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The Age (Australia) 9/16/98|
CIA funded covert Tibet exile campaign in 1960s
By JIM MANN
For much of the 1960s, the CIA provided the Tibetan exile movement with $1.7million a year for operations against China, including an annual subsidy of $180,000 for the Dalai Lama, according to newly released US intelligence documents.
The money for the Tibetans and the Dalai Lama was part of the CIA's worldwide effort during the early years of the Cold War to undermine communist governments, particularly in the Soviet Union and China. The government committee that approved the Tibetan operations also authorised the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
The documents, published last month by the State Department, illustrate the historical background of the situation in Tibet today, in which China continues to accuse the Dalai Lama of being an agent of foreign forces seeking to separate Tibet from China.
The declassified historical documents provide the first inside details of the CIA's decade-long covert program to support the Tibetan independence movement. At the time of the intelligence operation, the CIA was seeking to weaken Mao Zedong's hold over China. And the Tibetan exiles were looking for help to keep their movement alive after the Dalai Lama and his supporters fled Tibet after an unsuccessful 1959 revolt against Chinese rule.
The newly published files show that the collaboration between US intelligence and the Tibetans was less than ideal. ``The Tibetans by nature did not appear to be congenitally inclined towards conspiratorial proficiency,'' a top CIA official says ruefully in one memo.
One document indicates that annual Tibet expenses totalling $1,735,000 continued for four years, until 1968. At that point, the CIA cut the budget to just below $1.2million a year.
The US Government still provides some financial support for Tibetans, but openly and through other channels. In recent years, Congress has approved about $2 million annually in funding for Tibetan exiles in India.