APPENDIX 12 Britain Formally Proposes a Boundary to China—The Ambassador Sir Claude MacDonald’s Note to the Tsungli Yamen, 14 March 1899 - Oxford Scholarship Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
India–China Boundary Problem 1846–1947$

A.G. Noorani

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780198070689

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198070689.001.0001

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(p.291) APPENDIX 12 Britain Formally Proposes a Boundary to China—The Ambassador Sir Claude MacDonald’s Note to the Tsungli Yamen, 14 March 1899

(p.291) APPENDIX 12 Britain Formally Proposes a Boundary to China—The Ambassador Sir Claude MacDonald’s Note to the Tsungli Yamen, 14 March 1899

India–China Boundary Problem 1846–1947
Oxford University Press

(p.291) APPENDIX 12

Britain Formally Proposes a Boundary to China—The Ambassador Sir Claude MacDonald’s Note to the Tsungli Yamen, 14 March 1899

Mr Bax-Ironside to the Marquess of Salisbury.

(No. 81. Confidential.)

My Lord,

Peking, 7th April 1899.

In accordance with the instructions conveyed in Your Lordship’s despatch No. 209 (Confidential) of the 14th December 1898, Sir Claude MacDonald on the 14th ultimo addressed a despatch to the Chinese Government, copy of which I have the honour to inclose, advocating an understanding as to the frontier between Chinese Turkistan and Afghanistan, Hunza and Kashmir.

(p.292) The Tsungli Yamên have informed me verbally that they have inferred the question to the Governor of Chinese Turkistan, and that upon receipt of his report they will reply to Sir Claude MacDonald’s despatch.

I have, &c.,

(Sd.) II. O. Bax-Ironside.

Sub-enclo. 1 (enclo. 1), No. 188.

Sir C. MacDonald to the Tsungli Yamên.

MM. les Ministres,

Peking, 14th March 1899.

I have the honour, by direction of Her Majesty’s Government, to address Your Highness and Your Excellencies on the subject of the boundary between the Indian State of Kashmir and the New Dominion of Chinese Turkistan.

In the year 1891 the Indian Government had occasion to repress by force of arms certain rebellious conduct on the part of the Ruler of the State of Kanjut, a tributary of Kashmir. The Chinese Government then laid claim to the allegiance of Kanjut by virtue of a tribute of 1½ ounces of gold dust paid by its Ruler each year to the Governor of the New Dominion, who gave in return some pieces of silk.

It appears that the boundaries of the State of Kanjut with China have never been clearly defined. The Kanjutis claim an extensive tract of land in the Taghdumbash Pamir, extending as far north as Tashkurgan, and they also claim the district known as Raskam to the south of Sarikol. The rights of Kanjut over part of the Taghdumbash Pamir were admitted by the Taotai of Kashgar in a letter to the Mir of Hunza, dated February 1896, and last year the question of the Raskam district was the subject of negotiations between Kanjut and the officials of the New Dominion, in which the latter admitted that some of the Raskam land should be given to the Kanjutis.

It is now proposed by the Indian Government that, for the sake of avoiding any dispute or uncertainty in the future, a clear understanding should be come to with the Chinese Government as to the frontier between the two States. To obtain this clear understanding, it is necessary that China should relinquish her shadowy claim to suzerainty over the State of Kanjut. The Indian Government, on the other hand, will, on behalf of Kanjut, relinquish her claims to most of the Taghdumbash and Raskam districts.

It will not be necessary to mark out the frontier. The natural frontier is the crest of a range of mighty mountains, a great part of which is quite inaccessible. It will be sufficient if the two Governments will enter into an agreement to recognise the frontier as laid down by its clearly marked geographical features. The line proposal by the Indian Government is briefly (p.293) as follows: It may be seen by reference to the map of the Russo–Chinese frontier brought by the late Minister, Hung Chün, from St. Petersburgh, and in possession of the Yamên.

Commencing on the Little Pamir, from the peak at which the Anglo– Russian Boundary Commission of 1895 ended their work, it runs south–east, crossing the Karachikar stream at Mintaka Aghazi; thence proceeding in the same direction it joins at the Karchenai Pass the crest of the main ridge of the Mustagh range. It follows this to the south, passing by the Kunjerab Pass, and continuing southwards to the peak just north of the Shimshal Pass. At this point the boundary leaves the crest and follows a spur running east approximately parallel to the road from the Shimshal to the Hunza post at Darwaza. The line turning south through the Darwaza post crosses the road from the Shimshal Pass at that point, and then ascends the nearest high spur, and regains the main crests which the boundary will again follow, passing the Mustagh, Gusherbrun, and Saltoro Passes by the Karakoram. From the Karakoram Pass the crests of the range run east for about half a degree (100 li), and then turn south to a little below the thirty-fifth parallel of north latitude. Rounding then what in our maps is shown as the source of the Karakash, the line of hills to be followed runs north–east to a point east of Kizil Gilga, and from there in a south–easterly direction follows the Lak Tsung range until that meets the spur running south from the K’un-lun range, which has hitherto been shown on our maps as the eastern boundary of Ladakh. This is a little east of 80° east longitude.

Your Highnesses and Your Excellencies will see by examining this line that a large tract of country to the north of the great dividing range shown in Hung Chün’s map as outside the Chinese boundary will be recognised as Chinese territory.

I beg Your Highness and Your Excellencies to consider the matter, and to favour me with an early reply.

I avail, &c.,

(Sd.) Claude M. MacDonald.