Southern Asia 1931: Sino-Tibetan War

By the early 1930s, Chiang Kaishek's Nationalists had reunified much of China, encouraging the remaining warlords to side with him. Tibet, whose independence remained unrecognized, soon came into conflict with some of these warlords when it asserted its claim to monasteries on its eastern border. The warlords defeated the Tibetans, eventually agreeing to a truce in 1932.


Changes to the map 27 April 1930–26 March 1931

China: The Nationalist Government has defeated the Guominjun and Yan Xishan in the Central Plains War, with the support of the Fengtian clique. Tibet has intervened in the disputed Xikang territory, seizing Kanze and Nyarong from Liu Wenhui.

Turkey: The Ararat rebellion has been defeated in the east.

Arabia: Asir has signed a treaty with the Saudis, effectively ending its independence.

Ethiopia: Italy has set up a fortified position at Wal Wal in the Ogaden across the poorly defined Somaliland-Ethiopian border.

British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf

The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintained British India’s influence in a number of Gulf states from the 19th Century until 1947. These states were nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman was the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.

Trucial Oman was the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region were often called the Trucial States, and later became the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they had little unity, with no regional council until 1952.

Indian Empire

The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, was comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.

The area under direct British rule was known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.

Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, were the hundreds of protectorates or ‘princely states’. These were indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others were either collected into agencies - which might in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fell under the sway of the provinces.

Main Events

? May–4 Nov 1930 Central Plains War

Three Chinese military commanders—Feng Yuxiang of the Guominjun, Yan Xishan of Shanxi, and Li Zongren of the Guangxi clique—revolt against Chiang Kaishek’s dominance of the Kuomintang, the governing party of the Republic of China, leading to the Central Plains War. After months of fighting, Zhang Xueliang of the Fengtian clique declares for Chiang on 18 September and marches south, helping to crush the rebel wikipedia

? Jun 1930–10 Oct 1932 Sino-Tibetan War

Following disputes over the control of monasteries between pro-Tibetan lamas and pro-Chinese chieftains, the Kingdom of Tibet under the 13th Dalai Lama seizes Kanze and Nyarong—at the time controlled by Xikang’s warlord, Liu Wenhui. After several more clashes, Liu retakes the settlements, invading eastern Tibet with the support of Ma Bufang of Qinghai. This leads to a British-arranged truce in October wikipedia

12–13 Jul 1930 Zilan massacre

During the Ararat rebellion, the Turkish Army destroys over 200 villages and massacres up to 15,000 Kurdish residents in the Zilan Valley, to the north of the town of Erciş in Van Province. The massacre does not end the rebellion, which continues into September wikipedia

5 Mar 1931 Gandhi-Irwin Pact

Indian nationalist Mohandas Gandhi signs a political agreement with Lord Irwin, Viceroy of India, after eight meetings totaling 32 hours. Gandhi agrees to discontinue the civil disobedience movement in return for the British Government’s pledge to release all non-violent political prisoners, end its ban on the Indian National Congress, and relax the Salt Laws. Gandhi is also designated as Congress’s representative to the Round Table Conference in London, set for August wikipedia