Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tibet’s Waters for Xinjiang: Another Diversion of the Brahmaputra?

Picture accompanying the Chinese article
I often mentioned on this blog, the different 'diversion' schemes, whether of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) or the Indus River.
Now, a new one has come to light.
According to an official Chinese website, during the 'Two Sessions', the China Railway Tunnel Group Co Ltd (CRTG), the largest specialized company in the field of underground works in China, which integrates design, construction, scientific research and manufacture, proposed to divert the Yarlung Tsanpo (Brahmaputra) from Tibet to Xinjiang.
CRTG is itself a subsidiary of the China Railway Group Ltd, with has 14 wholly-owned subsidiaries, 3 holding subsidiaries, 2 share holding subsidiaries and 8 branch companies.
The company likes to think big (money).
Whether it could trigger a conflict with India is not its concern.

The New Scheme
During the Second Session of the Twelfth National People's Congress (NPC), CRTG’s Deputy Chief Engineer Wang Mengshu submitted a project for the first phase of mega ‘a water diversion’ scheme.
Wang Mengshu stated that the water transfer project could not only help the ecological environment in the project area, but also greatly improve the social and economic development of the region, i.e. Xinjiang.
It would also improve the transportation, energy, communications and other infrastructure conditions in Southern Xinjiang, on a desert area covering 80 million square kilometers which could be transformed into an oasis.
It would later help ‘transferring’ of a large number of people to this strategic area of Western China.
In a long-term, it would have a great significance for the development of the region.
The ‘proposal’ has been worked out with the Hydraulics and Mountain River Development Department of the Sichuan University. Key national research laboratories are ready to provide further support.
Wang Mengshu introduced the first phase of the project to divert some 10 billion to 15 billion m3 from the Yarlung Zangbo River (Brahmaputra) to Southern Xinjiang.
The main feature of the project would be that the transfer of flood waters would not require a hydropower station power generation required as the waters would flow downstream and the ecological environment of the basin would not be significantly affected.

The first hub: four features
The first hub would not used 'water diversion technology’ with a dam.
Gravity through a tunnel would be complemented by smart water management for the distribution system.
In his introduction, Wang Mengshu said that in the first phase of the project, there will four major technical features.
One, the first part will not use a dam for the diversion.
It will conform to natural and sustainable laws.
Second, the traditional Dujiangyan watershed, sand and diversion control technology and water flow control technology will be utilised.
What is a Dujiangyan irrigation system?
According to Wikipedia, it was originally constructed around 256 BC by the State of Qin as a water conservation and flood control scheme. The system's infrastructure is on the Min River (Minjiang) in Sichuan.
The area is situated in the western portion of the Chengdu flat lands at the confluence between the Sichuan basin and the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Originally the Minjiang rushed down from the Min Mountains, but slowed abruptly after reaching the Chengdu Plains, causing the watercourse to fill up with silt, making the surrounding area extremely prone to flooding. Li Bing, then governor of Shu for the state of Qin, took care of the construction of the Dujiangyan, which harnessed the river using a new method of channeling and dividing the water rather than simply following the old way of dam building. It is still in use today to irrigate over 5,300 square kilometers of land in the same area.
In the 'diversion' scheme, the principles will be to utilize ‘curved circulation’ to achieve secondary water flow and sedimentation, the use of ‘settling sedimentation’, and finally use of a shaft to control the water, according to the principle of using floods waters.
It could work even during the dry season, as well as meet the downstream ecological requirements while helping reduce the downstream floods.
The third feature the water supply will be the use of gravity through flow tunnel technology, it will avoid evaporation along the way.
All other technical issues will make the project safe and reliable.
Fourth and finally, the pressure-flow will be self-regulated by the shaft technology which can be used to divide the whole water delivery system into several relatively independent subunits.
It can reduce the ‘water hammer pressure’ of the whole water supply system and avoid the full range of diffusion and propagation of hydraulic oscillation.
And also it will reduce the 'vibration' of the water flow system and tackle other issues; it will be easy to control and will fully transfer the flood waters.
The structure is also relatively simple, according to Meng, though not easy to understand for the lay man.
Wang Mengshu said that this water transfer technology is feasible, the ecological impact is minimal; it has a low operating and maintenance costs.
With the use of tunnels for the water supply, water evaporation loss is minimal and water security is fully protected. The principle of taking away flood waters, will avoid the outflow of surplus water downstream and even will reduce the pressure on the river flood control.
Wang Mengshu suggested carrying a demonstration of the water diversion project. On this basis, the implementation of the first phase of the project is feasible, he said.
The translation of the article might not be perfect but it gives an idea of the concept of the project.

What about India?
No doubt that the ‘tunnel lobby’ is as powerful as the ‘dam lobby’ in the Middle Kingdom.
Like the other projects reported in this blog earlier, it is a dream of megalomaniac engineers, who forget that the Yarlung Tsangpo (the Siang in Arunachal Pradesh and later the Brahmaputra and the Jamuna in Bangladesh) is not the sole property of the the People's Republic of China.
India and Bangladesh have a say as far as the utilisation of its waters is concerned.
It is probably one of these projects to remind India that China, by controlling Tibet, also control the Tibetan rivers and can create a lot of trouble for the lower riparian States.
Can it go further than the drawing board?
It is doubtful.

Some previous posts

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An epic journey: The day the Dalai Lama came to India

A guard of Honour by the Assam Rifles in Tawang (April 1959)
My article An epic journey: The day the Dalai Lama came to India appeared in Rediff.com

Here is the link...

The Tibetan spiritual leader's upcoming visit to Tawang, the district through which he first entered India, is probably behind China's new desire to claim the area.
Claude Arpi recalls the Dalai Lama's arrival in Tawang in March 1959 and explains why His Holiness will once again receive a grand welcome, whether Beijing likes it or not.

China often double-speaks. At a press conference, a day before the opening of the National People's Congress (NPC), Fu Ying, the articulate spokesperson of the Chinese legislature, said that China and India which have over the past decades witnessed rapid development of bilateral trade, should focus on enhancing mutual understanding and boosting cooperation rather than dwelling on disputes.
She forgot that just a few days earlier, Beijing planted a controversy in the Indian press. One of the mainstream Indian newspapers wrote, China ready to cede land for part of Arunachal Pradesh?; China wanted back Tawang: “This could pave the way for a settlement of the India-China boundary dispute” said to Dai Bingguo, one of the senior-most Chinese diplomats under President Hu Jintao. The article does not mention that it is the same Dai, who in 2005 drafted the Agreement between India and China ‘On the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question’. Had Dai, the then Special Representative for the border negotiations with India, forgotten the content of the 2005 agreement which referred to Tawang: “In reaching a boundary settlement, the two sides shall safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas.” It clearly meant that Tawang area, which is heavily populated, would not be ceded or exchanged.
This is what China had agreed then.
The upcoming visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang is probably the reason for this new sudden claim. Though time and again India has said that the Dalai Lama is an honoured guest in India and is free to go wherever he wants, Beijing aggressively threatened India of dire consequence if the Tibetan leader is allowed to visit the area.
A firsthand account of the Dalai Lama arrival in Tawang in 1959
More interesting than endlessly arguing with China, is to look at some historical facts.
On March 17, 1959, the Dalai Lama left Lhasa in the dead of night in dramatic circumstances.
On March 26, 1959, he reached Lhuntse Dzong, a few days march from the McMahon Line, the border between India and Tibet.
The Tibetan temporal leader wrote to the Indian Prime Minister to seek refuge in India: “Ever since Tibet went under the control of Red China and the Tibetan Government lost its powers in 1951, I, my Government officers and citizens have been trying to maintain peace in Tibet but the Chinese Government has been gradually subduing the Tibetan Government.”
The Dalai Lama added: “In this critical situation we are entering India via Tsona. I hope that you will please make necessary arrangements for us in the Indian territory. Confident of your kindness…”
Tsona is the last town, north of the border.
Upon receiving the message, Delhi took immediately measures to welcome the Tibetan leader and receive the party (his close family, four of his Cabinet ministers and some attendants and bodyguards) at the first Indian post at Chuthangmu, north of Tawang, then part of Kameng Frontier Division.
Nehru replied to the Dalai Lama: “My colleagues and I welcome you and send you greetings on your safe arrival in India. We shall be happy to afford the necessary facilities for you, your family and entourage to reside in India. The people of India who hold you in great veneration will no doubt accord their traditional respect to your person.”
Since that day, the Indian Government and people have considered the Dalai Lama an honoured guest in the Land of the Buddha.
I have recently come across a “Top Secret report on the entry of His Holiness the Dalai Lama into India”; it describes the epic arrival of the Dalai Lama in India.
There was no doubt for anybody (including Beijing) that Chuthangmu/Khenzimane, on the McMahonLine was (and is) the border, with areas south being part of Indian territory.
The report said: “On the March 27, 1959, Shri T.S. Murthy, Assistant Political Officer [APO], Tawang, received instructions about the possibility of the Dalai Lama seeking entry into India. He reached Chuthangmu to receive the party at 09:00 hours on the March 31.”
At that time the Assam Rifles (AR) post was located four or five days walk north of Tawang, famous for having the largest Indian Buddhist monastery.
On March 29, an advance party, under a junior Tibetan officer, reached Chuthangmu; the AR platoon was informed that the main party “was expected to enter our territory at 1400 hours on the March 31, [and] that there was no sign of the Chinese pursuit.”
The messengers carried the original letter of the Dalai Lama’s letter to Nehru which was translated and transmitted to Shillong and Delhi via wireless.
At the appointed time, “the Dalai Lama and his party reached Khenzimane which demarcates the frontier in Chuthangmu area. His Holiness was riding a yak and was received by the APO, Tawang [Murthy]. They proceeded to the checkpost without halting at the frontier.”
The Tibetans knew where the border was. Everyone in the party was so relieved that the Dalai Lama was now safe in India.
In the evening, when the Lord Chamberlain met the APO “it was agreed that all porters brought by the party from Tibet would be sent back and that porterage arrangements thereafter would be made by us. It was also agreed that all pistols and revolvers, except those in possession of the Dalai Lama, his family and ministers (excluding their servants), and all rifles would be handed over to us for safe custody...,” noted the report. A list of the members of the Party was given to Murthy, a Chinese-speaking officer.
The next day at 9 am, the APO was summoned by the Dalai Lama. The circumstances of the flight were discussed: “The policy of the Chinese was becoming increasingly anti-religious; the masses of Tibet were restive and he was no longer able to make them put up with the Chinese rule; the Chinese had attempted to endanger his person; Tibet should be free; his people would fight to win their freedom; he was confident that India’s sympathies are with the Tibetans.”
The same day (April 2), the party moved to Gorsam Chorten (Stupa) located near Ziminthang, south of the border. At 3 pm, the Dalai Lama called Murthy again, he was curious to know “if he had received any news of international developments in regard to his escape, especially the line adopted by India, the UK and the USA in this regard. The APO said that he had no information.”
The next day the party moved to Shakti; after crossing the main bridge, they proceeded on the other side of the Namjiang chu river; the party accompanied by the AR finally reached Lumla, the first large village between the border and Tawang on April 3.
Har Mander Singh, the Political Officer (PO) responsible for the Kameng Frontier Division had left Tawang in the morning and reached Lumla in the evening: “The mother, sister and 12 years old brother of the Dalai Lama accompanied by 12 servants had reached Lumla from the other side a couple of hours ahead of us. I called on the mother and assured her of Government’s protection”, noted Har Mander Singh.
The PO further reported: “I received him [the Dalai Lama] and took him to his room. We discussed about his journey beyond Lumla.” Singh took the opportunity to acquaint himself with Dalai Lama’s the senior officers and personal staff: “Two of the three Shapes (ministers) who are accompanying the Dalai Lama arrived in the afternoon. The third Shape who is accompanied by his family and the two tutors of the Dalai Lama are travelling a stage behind.”
As the PO held his first formal meetings with the Tibetan ministers, a messenger brought a letter from a Bhutanese official posted in Tashigong not far from Lumla, in Bhutan. The missive stated that Bhutan was prepared to allow the Dalai Lama to pass through Tashigong district. Singh remarks: “I was rather taken aback to find that the Officer Commanding [of the local police platoon] had apparently been in touch with the Bhutan authorities to obtain passage for the Dalai Lama through [Bhutan].” It was later found that the OC had “exceeded his authority and gone over the PO’s/APO’s heads.”
On April 4, a ceremony was organized in the morning for the Dalai Lama to bless the local Monpa population of Lumla area.
After the ceremony, Singh went to the Dalai Lama’s room. To save face, the Bhutanese officials asked for an audience to say that in fact “it would be preferable if His Holiness would travel through the Indian territory during his entire journey.” That settled the issue.
The entire party left Lumla the next day (April 4) at 8 am: “During the journey the Dalai Lama asked questions about the tribes in the Division, the schools and the system of education, agriculture and self-sufficiency and medium of instructions to which I replied suitably,” wrote Har Mander Singh.
When he was alone with the PO, the Dalai Lama asked him, “although it was a delicate matter for India, he would like us to consider whether it was possible to give any kind of help to the Khampas and Tibetan troops fighting for the Tibetan cause.”
The PO answered that India was always prepared to give First Aid to the injured and the sick at the border check-posts: “The Government is sympathetically inclined towards genuine refugees, particularly women and children seeking asylum in India.”
The Dalai Lama informed the PO that he would like to spend a few days in Tawang and “a much longer period in Bomdila to recuperate from the strain of his journey before going down to the plains.”
Har Mander Singh readily agreed.
On April 5, the Dalai Lama told the PO that he had learnt from the radio that “fighting had broken out between the Chinese and the Khampas some 60 miles South of Lhasa. This area was inaccessible to the mechanized transport and was ideal for guerilla type of warfare. He was, therefore, confident that the Chinese would not be able to over-power the Khampas in this area.”
The party, which left at 7 am, attended the reception arranged by the Tawang Monastery en route and arrived in Tawang at noon.
The rest is history.
In Tawang, the Dalai Lama was given a guard of honour by the Assam Rifles, and could finally take some rest. Though the guard of honour infuriated the Chinese, they did not mention that Tawang was ‘Chinese territory’. It is only much later that Beijing started claiming these areas as Chinese. This was clearly an afterthought, a bargaining chip for their occupation of the Aksai Chin plateau.
As he arrives in Tawang 58 years later, the Dalai Lama will again receive a grand welcome, whether Beijing likes it or not.
The people of India still hold him in great veneration.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Xinjiang: relentlessly beat and strike hard

Two years ago, during the ‘Two Sessions’, a senior Uygur military official declared that “terrorist attacks would not affect the overall stability of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), nor would they hinder its fast economic development, ethnic unity or religious harmony.”
Major General Saimati Muhammat, a deputy commander of the Xinjiang Military Area Command also told Xinhua: "Everyone in Xinjiang is against terrorism and expects peace. Now those few terrorists have no support there, and people just hate them."
General Saimati spoke of the anti-terrorism campaign then conducted in Xinjiang “it has helped people realize that terrorists are their common enemies. Everyone is obligated to battle terrorism and maintain peace," he asserted.
Despite a new counter-terrorism Law, the situation has seriously deteriorated during the last two years in the restive province. Though in 2015, the Uygur general said that “terrorism shouldn't be blamed on any specific ethnic group, territory or religion,” Xinjiang is very tense today.
The fact that General Saimati was very silent during the last ‘Two Sessions’ is telling. Today, officials are not allowed to speak about Xinjiang.

Reward to denounce ‘terrorists’
In previous posts, I mentioned the nervousness in Beijing after recent events in Xinjiang. It was apparent with the dinner offered to the ‘minorities’ by the seven members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo at the Great Hall of People during the 'Two Sessions'.
Another indication of Beijing’s uneasiness shows in a report of Radio Free Asia (RFA) which says: “Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region are offering hefty sums of cash to would-be tipsters on terrorist activities.”
It quoted an official announcement issued by the regional authorities on February 23. According to RFA’s Uyghur Service, the Hotan prefecture government had set aside 100 million yuan (U.S. $14.5 million) to reward residents reporting ‘suspicious’ acts after a knife attack in Guma (Pishan) county.
The announcement says: “Our region will create an anti-terror defense front composing every ten families as a unit, and an anti-terror reward fund in order to encourage the masses to actively provide tips related to terrorism, …Tip providers will receive anywhere from 150 yuan (U.S. $22) to 500,000 yuan (U.S. $72,426), depending upon the importance and usefulness of the tip on suspicious terrorist activity or suspicious individuals.”
The authorities guaranteed the anonymity of the informants and promised to secretly transfer rewards to their bank accounts. Anyone exposing high-ranking members of the community involved in suspicious activity will be 'handsomely' rewarded for their information, says RFA: “Tip providers who report on ‘double-faced’ cadres, party members or ‘double-faced’ religious clergy will receive 200,000-500,000 yuan (U.S. $28,970-72,426).”
That is big money.

Xinjiang and Tibet
As mentioned earlier on this blog, the arrival of Chen Quanguo as Party Secretary has witnessed a hardening of the ‘anti-terror’ measures.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) also links the new measures to Chen.
Gabriele Battaglia writes in the SCMP: “The heat is on in Xinjiang. A string of deadly killings, blamed on Islamist separatists, have rocked China’s restive far western province and prompted authorities into an unprecedented show of force – and a social clampdown experts say has been imported from Tibet.”
Interestingly, the most restive areas are located close to the Indian border in the Aksai Chin. Military parades in Hotan and Kashgar were synchronized with the one in the capital, Urumqi.
Zhu Hailun, a XUAR’s deputy secretary announced that the authorities’ intent to “relentlessly beat, and strike hard against terrorism.”
According to the SCMP’s article: “The spate of violence coincides with the release this month of a half-hour video by Islamic State that features Uygurs issuing the terror group’s first threat against Chinese targets. The event has added credibility to warnings by Beijing of the potential for Xinjiang militants to link up with global jihadist groups.”
In Beijing, Xi Jinping spoke of building a ‘Great Wall of Steel’ to keep Islamic separatists out of the Muslim province.
The SCMP remarked: “The government has responded to the growing threat by bringing in new hardline security restrictions on Xinjiang residents – restrictions some experts say have been imported from neighbouring Tibet by Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang’s Communist Party leader, who previously held the same office in Tibet.”
The situation has undoubtedly worsened.  

New Recruitment Policy
At a time when Beijing has decided to demobilize several Group Armies (Corps), the XUAR is recruiting.

The Jamestown Foundation says that Party “has built a multi-tiered security state with, among other components, the recruitment of nearly 90,000 new police officers and a 356 percent increase in the public security budget.”
Researcher of the Foundation have map the development of the security state in Xinjiang from the beginning in 2006: “The figures reveal a massive spike in police recruitment since 2012, with Xi Jinping personally praising local constabularies as the ‘fists and daggers’ of China’s counter-terrorism effort. In fact, the number of advertised police jobs in 2016 exceeded the combined figures from 2008–2012 by 30,000. …Last year, the outgoing Xinjiang Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian declared success, claiming that the situation in Xinjiang is becoming ever more stable and the number of violent incidents has declined substantially as local authorities strengthen their ability to prevent and fight terrorist activities”.
In a Communist system, it is logical for the local Party boss to announce that he has succeeded, but the truth is probably the opposite; that is why Chen Quanguo has started implementing even more comprehensive and intrusive policies (such as the rewards).
The Jamestown Foundation describes for stages of hardening of the situation.
Stage 1 (2009–2011): Responding to the 2009 Urumqi Riots
Stage 2 (2012–13): Expanded Policing and Surveillance in the Rural South
Stage 3 (2014–2015): Grid-Style Community Policing and Big Data Surveillance
Stage 4 (from 2016): ‘Convenience Police Stations and the Massive Expansion of Surveillance Manpower
The latest is the most deadly development:  “A total of 31,687 security-related positions were advertised, more than a three-fold increase over the previous year. This unprecedented recruitment drive sought to boost the Party-state’s surveillance capabilities across all regions of Xinjiang, as only 35 percent of advertised positions were designated for regions with a Uyghur population of 40 percent or higher. Notably, 89 percent of these new hires were associated with so-called convenience police stations, which are currently being built across the XUAR in the tens of thousands.”
The Jamestown Foundation says that the local media have praised these convenience police stations as ‘bringing zero-distance service’ to the people of Xinjiang.
But in reality, the article concludes: “their real purpose is surveillance, cleverly designed to make Orwellian levels of securitization more palatable, while bringing 24-hour ‘zero-distance’ policing to an ever-increasing number of neighborhoods.”
It is quite frightening.
And will it work? Probably not, that is why Chen is playing the 'tourism' card at the same time.

Today, General Saimati is silent.
And whether the PLA’s soldiers demobilized under Mr Xi's new military reforms, will find their way to Xinjiang is a matter of conjecture, it remains however clear that the Core Leader is unable to fully control what is happening in his Western Dominion.
India should closely follow the developments in the region before deciding to join the Dream One Belt, One Road, so dear to Mr Xi.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mr Chen's recipe: tourism in Xinjiang

Repression before Tourism
At the end of August 2016, Wu Yingjie took over as Party Secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) from Chen Quanguo who was sent to ‘pacify’ Xinjiang.
The decision had been taken during the annual closed-door meeting at Beidahe.
An official statement released had then announced that Zhang Chunxian would be replaced by Chen Quanguo as secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
This was indeed a promotion for Chen, given the fact that Xinjiang's Party Secretaries often serve in the Politburo (though Chen will have to wait until the 19th Party Congress later this year to find out if he has made it).
In the meantime, Chen has to deliver the goods.
A question on everybody’s lips: will Chen apply the same recipe to pacify the restive Muslim Dominion than he used in Tibet.
Six months after his appointment, it looks like Chen is ready to use ‘tourism’ as a weapon of mass destruction to eliminate the resentment of the Uyghur population against the Central Government in Beijing.

Large Scale Training
Last week, Xinhua announced that the XUAR will train 1.2 million rural residents by 2020 as part of a new wave of infrastructure spending.
Why so much infrastructure?
Let us not forget that all infrastructure developments in China have a dual use, military and civilian.
The civilian part is usually linked to tourism (at least it is so in Tibet).
According to The Global Times: “Xinjiang's fixed asset investment will surpass 1.5 trillion yuan (around 217 billion US dollars) in 2017, up more than 50 percent year on year.”
The mouthpiece of the Party speaks of a training program “to meet labor demand in various projects, mainly in infrastructure sectors such as transport, water conservancy, energy and telecommunication.”
Ming Hong, deputy head of regional department of human resources and social security told The Global Times: “Xinjiang will provide language and skills training to 800,000 farmers and herdsmen that have no working experience, over the next four years.”
Language skills refer to Mandarin and perhaps English.
Ming says that the government wants to offer training ranging from one to three months to 360,000 rural labors: “From this year to 2020, another 40,000 young people, mainly from southern Xinjiang, will enroll in vocational schools and be offered occupational qualification certificates after two to three years of study.”
The new trainees will mainly be used in the tourism sector.
The Global Times admits: “Addressing the employment of surplus labor is the key to Xinjiang's social stability and economic development.”
In other words, the same formula than in Tibet: tourism = stability = integration.

More planes for Xinjiang
Another indication of the direction Beijing has decided to move in Xinjiang is given by article in The China Daily.
It says that during the current year, Xinjiang will import 10 new aircraft from Switzerland to develop tourism, improve emergency rescue capabilities and boost its role in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Lin Haitao, head of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Aviation Business Administration told the media: “The first of the 10 aircraft - all of which are Pilatus PC-12 produced by Switzerland's Pilatus Aircraft Co - recently arrived in Shihezi in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and the second one is expected to arrive soon.”
The aircraft will be operated by Xinjiang General Aviation Co Ltd, one of the country's biggest aviation service providers in China.
According to the same source, the 10 new airplanes will be mainly used to "transport tourists between scenic spots that are scattered across the vast autonomous region, as well as being chartered for emergency rescue missions. The fleet can also serve neighboring countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), if needed.”
The OBOR initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to rejuvenate two ancient trade routes - the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road - regional connectivity is closely linked to the new strategy.
Liu Kuntong, director of planning in the local government explained: "The addition of the 10 airplanes is just the start of our efforts to improve regional connectivity. We will increase investment in the sector and support the goal of building an air passage along the Belt and the Road."
Apart from the OBOR which is a panacea for all problems in China today, tourism like in Tibet, can kill several birds with one stone …and its helps develop infrastructure for the PLA.
The most important initiative is the new link road between Tibet and Xinjiang already mentioned on this blog.
Tourism also provides employment; improve the living standard of local Uyghur population and gives opportunities for Han migration, etc.


Delegates to the 'Two Sessions'
According to China Tibet Online during the recent ‘Two Sessions’, representatives to the National People's Congress (NPC) from Xinjiang and Tibet stated that the OBOR, “expanded the vision of residents in remote and poverty-stricken regions and is bringing the northwestern region of the country into a well-off society along with the rest of China.”
Yang Qin, a representative from Xinjiang remarked: “Trading between Xinjiang and Central Asia are busier than ever. As long as we have good products, we never have to worry about sales."
As the chairman of a fruit products cooperative in Manas County of Changji Prefecture in Xinjiang, she said that she benefited from the opportunities provided by the OROB.
Yang Qin explained: “The cooperative members have reaped the rewards of cross-border trading. This year, we have brought in new species of specialty mushrooms and are trying to expand production. We're hoping to break into the international market by the end of the year.”
There is of course a large part of propaganda especially when a delegate from Tibet says: “Tibet is now becoming the relay point between China and South Asia. There is a nonstop stream of merchants incoming from India, Nepal, and other countries, and trading is becoming more and more robust.”
There is hardly any trade with India through the three official land-ports (Shipkila, Lipulekla and Nathula). But the ‘Two Sessions’ is first and foremost a propaganda exercise.
A Nepalese businessman who frequents China for business and opened an import/export company in Kyirong land-port between Nepal and Tibet said that “With the rapid growth of China-Nepal trading in the past two years, his business has also taken off and is earning 450 thousand Yuan (65 thousand US dollars) annually: “There are about eight thousand kinds of Nepalese products being sent to and sold in southwest China's Tibet every year.”
There is no doubt that a ‘good’ delegate should praise Xi Jinping, the Core Leader and its Dream Project, the OBOR.
It remains that the Xinjiang government under Chen Quanguo is decided to increase infrastructure construction “for transportation, irrigation, energy, and other infrastructure in Tibet”.
Whether it is part of the OBOR initiative or not is irrelevant.
According to Xinhua, some 25 proposals were submitted by the Tibet delegation to the National People's Congress; it included infrastructure construction, livelihood improvement, industrial development, environmental protection in the fields of “politics, economics, culture, education, ecology and other areas,” reported the news agency.
The proposals on infrastructure construction projects include railways, highways, water conservancy, electric power, ecological zones and logistics parks, “which are the most urgent problems needing high attention on the region's way to reform and development,” explained one delegate.
There is no doubt that the delegates from Xinjiang presented similar requirements.
Millions of Han tourists will soon visit the Western Dominion, before that, some minimum level of security needs to be insured by the authorities to reassure the tourists.
The Han tourists are not a very brave lot, they stop en masse coming to France after the terror attacks last year.
It is a tricky job for Mr Chen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Chinese: Closer Reflection On The Minorities Issue

The Happy Tibetans?
My article A Chinese: Closer Reflection On The Minorities Issue appeared in The Statesman.

Click here to read...

Guess who is coming for dinner?
On March 11, a rare event took place in Beijing: the seven members of the Politburo’s Standing Committee, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli dined together. According to Xinhua, they attended “a gathering on the sidelines of the annual sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC National Committee at the Great Hall of the People.”
The Seven Big Bosses met with the deputies of the ‘ethnic minorities’ elected to the National People's Congress (NPC) and the People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Is it an indication that something is boiling in the Tibetan, Uyghur and other minorities’ areas of China?
Xinhua said that Xi Jinping and his colleagues “arrived at the banquet hall of the Great Hall of the People at 7:45 p.m. to the enthusiastic applause from the lawmakers and political advisors in ethnic costumes.” Kalsang, a Tibetan seating next to the President, would have said: “Good evening, General Secretary”.
Xi was pleased “to learn about improved life in her village, where big changes in education, medical services, elderly care and housing have taken place,” according to the news agency.
A deputy from Xinjiang was told by Xi that they need “to make solid efforts for ethnic unity and lead people in pursuing a well-off life.”
It looks as if ‘ethnic unity’ is absent in today’s China.
While a Tibetan senior Communist official, Jampa Phuntsok presided over the dinner, the other leaders had “cordial conversations with the lawmakers and advisors, encouraging them to contribute to the Chinese nation's rejuvenation,” commented Xinhua.
Sun Chunlan, director of the United Front Work Department and member of the Politburo stated that the Party “attaches great importance to ethnic work and has made a set of decisions and arrangements to support ethnic regions.”
Xinhua noted that everyone was happy: “Attendees of the gathering also enjoyed performances showcasing China's ethnic arts.”
Tibetans and Uyghurs might be happy, but this unusual gathering raises serious questions. Why should China’s seven supreme leaders need to ‘dine’ together with the representatives of China’s minorities, if there were no disturbing issues to be discussed?
It is a fact that the Middle Kingdom’s periphery is today terribly unstable and Beijing does not know how to handle the situation (except by increasing the repression and offering a few economic carrots).
And more repression automatically brings more resentment; a vicious circle!

Costumed dinner at the Great Hall of the People
The Great Wall of Steel
A day before the dinner, the Chinese media reported that President Xi Jinping had urged the security forces to erect a 'Great Wall of Steel' around Xinjiang, after a recent spike of attacks, blamed by the authorities on Islamic extremists. Xi was speaking to PLA's officers; he requested the Armed Forces to bring 'lasting peace and stability’ to Xinjiang: "Maintaining stability in Xinjiang is a political responsibility," Xi said.
During the same NPC meeting, some senior officials from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region remarked that "the region has maintained a high-pressure crackdown to ensure stability and safety, as destabilizing factors remain."
Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the regional government, stated that Xinjiang had been “resolutely and forcefully” fighting terrorism to maintain stability in the past year, he added: "People across Xinjiang have recently joined public gatherings to show resolve in fighting terrorism."
Sharhat Ahan, deputy secretary of the region's Commission for Political and Legal Affairs pleaded for a popular mobilization to join 'the people’s war against terrorism' and he threatened: "Terrorists should be warned not to ‘hit the rock with eggs’ or they would face serious consequences.”
And this is the country which does not want to list Masood Azhar as a terrorist.

The Muslim Front
A couple of articles in The South China Morning Post confirm that all is not rosy on China’s Muslim front.
In the first piece, the journalist reported about a small ethnic Hui town in the southwestern border province of Yunnan: “While the Chinese government has cracked down on religious activities among the Muslim Uygur community in Xinjiang, ethnic Hui Muslims more closely integrated with Han Chinese society have been able to enjoy much greater religious freedom. However, growing Islamophobia in China has seen both groups targeted by online attacks at a time when anti-Muslim rhetoric is on the rise across the world.”
The Islamophobia is partly due to the severe repression in Xinjiang and the Party’s constant propaganda about ‘Muslim terrorists’.
The traditionally well-integrated Hui community is becoming nervous: “With the country’s top leaders repeatedly warning of the dangers of radical Islam, increasing levels of online hate speech are fuelling concerns that the heavy controls in Xinjiang could be extended to the Hui community in Yunnan,” remarked the article.
Another article in the same Hong Kong newspaper noted: “The growing popularity of anti-Islamic rhetoric, which is seldom challenged by state media or subject to the censorship for which China’s internet is famous, has sparked concerns that, left unaddressed, these tensions will spill over into real world conflict.”
The issue has become so serious that the entire Politburo’s Standing Committee had to invite the deputies of Tibet, Xinjiang or Ningxia to reassure them. Will this work on the ground is another issue.

The situation in Xinjiang
In January, the Chinese media reported that eight people were killed in a violent attack in Pishan county of Hotan Prefecture in Southern Xinjiang. According to the local Government, three knife-wielding men attacked and stabbed several people. Subsequently, the police shot dead the three attackers and ten others were injured. The Chinese media asserted: "Order has been restored and an investigation is ongoing. The identity of the attackers was not disclosed,” but they were obviously Uyghurs.
A few days earlier, Radio Free Asia (RFA) had reported that Uyghurs had been called to several meetings to confess their 'crimes'. According to RFA, this was part of a campaign called ‘Revealing Errors’; the meetings were held in Aksu Prefecture "to uncover behavior considered politically destabilizing.” The same source added: “Residents are called to a podium one by one to confess these errors after they have listed them on a 39-question form. They are also told they will face legal consequences if they attempt to cover up their own or anyone else’s anti-state activities.”
Does it not sound like the return of the Cultural Revolution?

Tibetans: the happiest?
In the meantime, China Radio International (CRI) announced that Lhasa, Tibet’s capital led China's 2016 Happiest Cities list. A survey polling more than 100,000 families, which was recently conducted by China Central Television (CCTV), arrived at this conclusion.
China's top five cities are: Lhasa, Chengdu in Sichuan, Changchun in Jilin province, Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Tianjin Municipality.
According to CRI, the survey was based on indicators such as family, marriage or emotional life, health conditions, social security, income, environment, education, etc.
During the past year, 70% of Lhasans felt 'extremely happy'.
The article does not say if the survey has been conducted among ‘local’ Tibetans or Chinese migrants, who now constitute the majority of the population in Lhasa.

Tibetans: the poorest
As the survey was published, another article announced that the local government in Lhasa was planning to allocate 4.3 billion U.S. dollars to ‘alleviate poverty in the region’ in 2017.
According to the local Finance Department, some 1 billion US dollars will be used to boost development in border areas. Jiang Guojie, deputy head of the Department said that the standards for the minimum living allowance for urban and rural residents in the region have been raised to 700 yuan and 3,311 yuan a month. The rest of the funds will be used in fields such as education, medical care, and social insurance…
Tibet and Xinjiang are still the poorest provinces of China, 65 years after the so-called ‘liberation’.
This explains the special dinner in Beijing.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Glimpses on the History of Tibet in Chinese

A couple of years ago, I prepared an exhibition entitled Glimpses on Tibet History.  
A book including the 25 panels of the exhibition (in the book format, it comes to 50 pages) was published by The Tibet Museum of Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala.
The text has recently been translated into Chinese and the exhibition was shown in Taiwan.
Click to see the video (via Facebook)...

Introduction

In the course of a talk with young Tibetans (most of them born in India), His Holiness the Dalai Lama suggested that we should prepare an exhibition on the history of Tibet.
Thus was born ‘Glimpses on the History of Tibet’.
Today, the exhibition has become a book.
This is timely as Chinese propaganda recently made fun of what it terms the ‘so-called Independence of Tibet’; Xinhua news agency calls Tibet’s independence, ‘a farce in the present tense’.
This book proves the opposite: Tibet was an independent nation and this, for the past 3000 or 4000 years.
An Indian sage thus described India: “Spirituality is the master-key of the Indian mind; the sense of the infinite is native to it. India saw from the beginning that the physical does not get its full sense until it stands in right relation to the supra-physical; she saw that the complexity of the universe could not be explained in the present terms of man or seen by his superficial sight...”
This could also apply to Tibet which for millennia, even before the introduction of Buddhism, has been looking ‘inside’ to discover the secrets of the Spirit. This is the clear thread linking these glimpses on the political history of the Roof of the World.
We have faced one main difficulty while preparing this exhibition/book.
How to slice more than three millennia of history (His Holiness requested to mention the latest archaeological discoveries) in 50 images without betraying the flow of events and people.
Impossible said the experts; unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) we had no choice but to try. These glimpses should just be seen as 50 snapshots of this ancient nation’s history.
The two thankas presented by His Holiness to go with the exhibition/book gave a direction to our search.
The first, depicts Santarakshita and Padmasambhava, who established the roots of Buddhism in Tibet, particularly the Nalanda lineage and the Indian Tantrik tradition respectively; the second thanka of the Three Religious Kings demonstrates the military strength of the Tibetan Empire at one point in history; in His Holiness’s words: “There have been occasions when Tibetan rulers conquered vast areas of China and other neighbouring states. This, however, does not mean that we Tibetans can lay claim to these territories.”
These glimpses show that in the past Tibet was an independent nation and though for sometime it lived in isolation, during most of the last 4000 years Tibet had constant contacts and interactions with the neighbouring nations and often influenced other cultures.

Our history, dating back more than two thousand years, has been one of independence. At no time, since the founding of our nation in 127 BC, have we Tibetans conceded our sovereignty to a foreign power. As with all nations, Tibet experienced periods in which our neighbours — Mongol, Manchu, Chinese, British and the Gorkhas of Nepal sought to establish influence over us. These eras have been brief and the Tibetan people have never accepted them as constituting a loss of our national sovereignty.
The Dalai Lama


The book is available at:
The Tibet Museum:
Department of Information and International Relations
Central Tibetan Administration
Gangchen Kyishong,
Dharamsala - 176215
Himachal Pradesh
First Edition: July 2013
ISBN: 978-93-80091-36-5

Friday, March 10, 2017

Gullible innocents, or willing propagandists?


My article Gullible innocents, or willing propagandists? appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer.

Here is the link...

The publication of pro-China articles by the India media raises two questions: First, why are Indian journalists propagating stories planted by Beijing? Second, can the Chinese be trusted even after they have signed a deal?

In 2003, the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party of China approved a ‘guiding conceptual umbrella’ for information operations of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It was called the 'Three Warfares'. It was based on three strategies or ‘Warfares’, each mutually reinforcing the two others: (1) the coordinated use of strategic psychological operations; (2) overt and covert media manipulation; and (3) legal warfare designed to manipulate strategies, defense policies, and perceptions of target audiences abroad.
Not only the PLA started implementing these strategies, but the other arms of the Communist Party also swung into action.
This came to mind when I read an article entitled ‘China ready to cede land for part of Arunachal Pradesh?’ in one of the Indian mainstream newspapers.
The article mention,s “An exchange of land, with the politically and strategically sensitive Tawang tract in Arunachal Pradesh being ceded by India”. This could pave the way for a settlement of the India-China boundary dispute, according to Dai Bingguo, who has been one of the senior-most Chinese diplomats under the President Hu Jintao.
Why did Dai Bingguo plant this story in the credulous Indian Press?
Let us remember that the same Dai was instrumental in drafting the Agreement between India and China ‘On the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question’, which was signed on April 11, 2005 in New Delhi.
Dai was then the Special Representative for the border negotiations with India, as well as the powerful Secretary-General of the Foreign Affairs Leading Small Group.
Today, Dai (and his handlers in Beijing) seem to be ignoring the spirit of the 2005 negotiations with its obvious reference to Tawang.
According to Article VII of the Agreement: “In reaching a boundary settlement, the two sides shall safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas.”
It clearly meant that Tawang area, which is heavily populated, would not be ceded or exchanged. This was then agreed by both parties.
Now Beijing would like Delhi to ‘return’ Tawang; they would generously compensate by some territory in Arunachal which has never been China’s (be sure, Beijing would not give back the Aksai Chin, being a too strategic link between Tibet and Xinjiang).
The question is: how can Indian journalists repeat, without even giving the historical background, such a non-sensical proposal. The answer is that they are not even bothered enough to study the Indian position on this issue.
This unnecessary controversy tends to show that Beijing is today able to get any ‘propaganda’ article published in the Indian Press; the Indian press just bites at any news coming from Beijing, who may be surprised that ‘overt and covert media manipulation’ is so easy in India.
Exchanging Tawang for some Chinese ‘possessions’ has never been on the cards. Hundreds of pages of the transcript of the talks between Zhou Enlai with different Indian leaders in April 1960, show that there has never been any question to ‘return’ Tawang to China.
During his 1960 stay in India, the Chinese Premier had some 17 hours of discussions with Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister; at no point in time was ‘ceding’ Tawang envisaged, though the Chinese side hinted at a swap of the entire NEFA (today Arunachal) against the Aksai Chin plateau, on which the PLA had built a road in the mid-1950s.
Only the transcript of the talks between Zhou and V.K. Krishna Menon, India’s Defence Minister is still unavailable. It is still classified. Why? Nobody knows. Even though the arrogant friend of Nehru was enamoured of Communist China, it is doubtful, that he would have dared ‘giving’ Tawang away. In any case, he had no authority in the matter.
Why is Dai raking up the issue now?
For different reasons: following the not-so-successful Sino-Indian Strategic Dialogue recently held in Beijing and co-chaired by Zhang Yesui, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and Jaishankar, the Indian Foreign Secretary, The Global Times commented in a paternalistic tone: “One lesson India may learn from China is to be honest with oneself. Asymmetry in economic and geopolitical power is natural for any bilateral relations.”
This derogatory remark was probably triggered by India’s firm stand on Masood Azhar, the Pathankot terror attack mastermind, who according to Beijing does not qualify to be listed as a ‘terrorist’ by the UN and also India’s insistence that it is entitled to a seat in the Nuclear Supplier Group.
As far as propaganda and influence on the other side’s press is concerned, there is undoubtedly a great ‘asymmetry’ in China’s favour.
There is another issue which has bothered China; it is the forthcoming visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang. Time and again India has said that the Dalai Lama is an honoured guest in India and he is free to go wherever he wants.
Incidentally, though Beijing today claims Tawang area as Chinese, why did the PLA not follow the Tibetan leader into India when he crossed the McMahon Line in Khenzimane, north of Tawang, on March 31, 1959? If China had considered the area to be a part of its territory, the PLA should have followed the Dalai Lama. But the claim on Tawang is clearly an afterthought, all the historical documents that I accessed, proved this.
Yet nother issue makes China nervous; it is the Two Sessions (the meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) which have recently opened in Beijing. For the present leadership, a lot is at stake with five out seven members of the Politburo’s Standing Committee retiring before the year end. Bringing up the border issue with India at this point in time is a clever diversion from China’s severe internal problems.
However, the publication of these pro-China articles (without any historical background and scoopy titles) raises two serious questions: first, why are some Indian journalists propagating stories obviously planted by Beijing and second, can the Chinese be trusted even after they have signed an agreement?
Regarding the first question, the time has come for the Ministries of External Affairs (MEA), Defence and Home Affairs, etc. to conduct classes/courses for senior editors and journalists on the historical background of the border ‘dispute’ with China as well as other similar contentious issues.
At the end of the 1950s and beginning 1960s, 14 White Papers on China were published. It had a tremendous pedagogical impact; the MEA should again start publishing White Papers on intricate diplomatic issues and widely distribute the information to the Indian public.
Can a sense of ‘national interests’ be inculcated into the Indian media? It is a tall order; money and ‘historical shortcuts are more important today.
As for the second question, it is difficult to trust China as long as it behaves in this manner.
The fact remains that India has lost the first battle of information.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The First Days of the Dalai Lama in India

Har Mander Singh, the Dalai Lama, Mrs Singh
As the Dalai Lama will soon visit Tawang again, I am reposting here a fascinating report sent by Har Mander Singh, the Political Officer (PO) of the Kameng Frontier Division (FD) to K.L. Mehta, the Adviser to the Governor of Assam on April 16, 1959.
Mehta, Har Mander's boss posted in Shillong, was looking over the entire NEFA.
As the PO of Kameng FD, Har Mander Singh was responsible to receive the Dalai Lama in March/April 1959, when the Tibetan leader and his party sought refuge in India.
The Tibetan leader crossed the Indian border on March 31, 1959 at Khenzimane/Chuthangmu where he was received by T.S. Murthy, the Assistant PO in Tawang.
Har Mander Singh came later and met the Dalai Lama at Lumla, a few days march from Tawang.
This is the final report sent by the Political Officer before the Dalai Lama proceeded to the plains of Assam and Mussorie, his first residence in India.
Nehru's special envoy, P.N. Menon (father of former Foreign Secretary and NSA, Shivshankar Menon) came to meet the Dalai Lama in Bomdila with a message from the Indian Prime Minister.
P.N. Menon had earlier been posted as Consul General of India in Lhasa (1954-1956).


Here is the Report:

NORTH EAST FRONTIER AGENCY

Bomdi La, April 16, 1959
D.O. No. CON.56

My dear Shri Mehta,
This is possibly my final despatch on the entry of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in this [Kameng] Division.
His Holiness left Tawang on the 8th April, 1959, halted at Jang on the 8th April, Sengedzong [Senge Dzong] on the 9th April, Dirang Dzong on the 10th April, Rahung on the 11th April and reached Bomdi La on the 12th as already reported. People in very large numbers gathered along the route to see him throughout the journey. He held blessing ceremonies in almost every village where he stopped during his trek.
On the 10th April, while travelling between Sengedzong and Dirang Dzong His Holiness mentioned that as a rule he did not listen in to the Lhasa Radio but had done so the previous evening and had learnt that the Chinese had set up a new enlarged Preparatory Committee under the Chairmanship of the Panchen Lama with four Vice-Presidents. They were Gen Chang Kuo Hwa [Zhang Guohua], one of the two Shapes [Ministers] (in-charge of Armed Forces) left behind in Lhasa and two incarnate Lamas. The second Shape [Ngapo Ngawang Jigme] had been included in the Preparatory Committee. The Panchen Lama had issued a statement condemning the rebel Forces and stating that those who indulged in rebel activities should be severely dealt with.
I noticed that from the time he listened in to this broadcast, the attitude of the Dalai Lama towards the question of giving asylum to the Tibetans seeking entry in India underwent a change. Heretofore, he seemed to be of the view that the Government of India should be liberal in giving asylum to the Tibetan officials and members of the rebel Forces fleeing the Chinese. After listening in to this particular broadcast the Dalai Lama seemed to have formed the view that the Government of and the rebel Forces should stay on in Tibet to fight the Chinese and agitate against the Preparatory Committee set up under the Panchen Lama and that they should seek asylum in India in those rare and extreme cases where they felt convinced of being persecuted.
The same day His Holiness happened to ask me about policies of the various political parties of India to which I gave non-committal replies.

Guard of Honour with Commandant, Assam Rifles, behind Har Mander Singh and PN Menon
On the 10th April, 1959, the Dalai Lama expressed appreciation for the services rendered to him by the Assam Rifles an escorting him from Chuthangmu [first Assam Rifles post in India] and wanted to give some cash to the riflemen. I submitted to him that although we felt deeply touched by his gesture of kindness it was not the normal practice to give gash to the Government servants for the services rendered by them and that a word of appreciation would be as valuable for us as any gift.
The Dalai Lama was presented a Guard of Honour and was given a rousing reception on arrival in Bomdi La. He very kindly consented to have all his meals with us and was accommodated in our house. He had two brief meetings on the 12th with [P.N.] Menon where Dave and I were also present in which he repeated the background already reported in the earlier despatches leading to his escape. The Kashag [Cabinet of Ministers] also met Menon briefly the same day while having tea with us but did not make any special point.
The Dalai Lama and his officers had a six-hour meeting with Menon on the 13th afternoon where Dave [Intelligence Officer] and I were also present. In this they reiterated the stories of atrocities and lack of religious freedom and internal autonomy. The Dalai Lama confirmed that he had written three letters to the Chinese authorities between the 11th and the 17th March with the aim of re-establishing relations with them. They said that the new Government at Yul Gyal Lhuntse [Lhuntse Dzong, where the Dalai Lama had denounced the 17-Point Agreement] had full spiritual and temporal powers under the Dalai Lama, that the new flag of the State had not been devised and that the system of the new Government was 'democratic according to the genius of the people'. The object of the Government was to have a common mother land 'for the people who eat Tsampa and chant mantra of Chenrezi'. They re-iterated forcefully that internal autonomy was not acceptable to them and they wanted full freedom including control over External Affairs and Defence and would fight to the last to attain their objective. They said that their immediate requests were as follows:-
  1. The veracity of the stories about atrocities in Tibet may be got verified by India by sending a Fact Finding Commission.
  2. India should mediate and ask China to stop bloodshed and release persons arrested in connection with political activities.
  3. India should espouse the cause of Tibetan Independence, as she had been doing in the case of other dependent countries of the world.
In the meeting, Menon emphasised the need to exercise discretion in giving statements to the Press till the meeting of His Holiness with our Prime Minister. He has telegraphed a report on these discussions to the Ministry and intends to follow it up with a detailed despatch.
Later His Holiness attended a reception in his honour in the Bomdi La Club. I delivered a brief speech welcoming him to the Division to which he replied and gave a brief religious sermon.

On the 14th April, His Holiness gave blessings individually to about 4000 people, sitting on the throne which we had got made for him, in our drawing room. He also paid visits to the School, the Hospital, the Cottage Industries Training-cum-Production Centre, the Women's Welfare Centre and the Co-operative Stores appreciated development work being done by us.
In the evening he attended a Cinema Show which was followed by a Dinner Party given by me in honour of His Holiness and the senior members of his entourage.
Following films were shown:
  1. A Documentary on Bapu.
  2. A Documentary on our Prime Minister.
  3. A Newsreel feature on the Republic Day 1958 celebration in New Delhi.
  4. A Documentary on the Himalayas.
  5. A NEFA Documentary on the Kameng Frontier Division.
Har Mander Singh introduces local officials to the Dalai Lama
In the documentary on Gandhiji there was a scene in which the Union Jack was shown being hauled down and the Indian National Flag being raised on the mast, on the 15th August, 1947. His Holiness and the members of his entourage cheered when this scene was exhibited on the screen and His Holiness said with deep emotion in his voice that there were similarities in the struggle for Independence of his own country and that which India had undertaken against the British Raj and that he hoped that one day they too would be able to fly their own flag in their country
His Holiness will be leaving Bomdi La for Khelong on the 17th April. The first party consisting of the members of his family and his tutors left on the 15th April and the second party left today. The entire party will concentrate in Khelong by the 17th evening, spend the night there, breakfast at Foothills on the 18th morning and leave for Tezpur to entrain at 1330 hours the same day from there.
The members of the entourage have endeavoured to sell off their ponies and other articles such as spare blankets, during their stay in the Kameng Division. The Dalai Lama's mother is reported to have done good business in Tawang.

In conclusion I would like to record some further observations connected with the visit of His Holiness.
  1. The people of the Division showed deep devotion towards His Holiness and came from distant places in large numbers to see him. The visit has helped the people to realize that as Indians living in the Frontier lands, they have liberty to acknowledge the Dalai Lama as their spiritual head without prejudice to their nationalism. The gesture of the Government in giving asylum to His Holiness has made a deeply favourable impression on the minds of our people.
  2. His Holiness was impressed by the religious devotion and simplicity of the people but said that our monks were not well versed in religious affairs. He mentioned once that during his previous visit to India he had made a suggestion to the Prime Minister that besides Ladakhi monks who already go to Lhasa, Indian monks from other areas also should be sent to the three principal monasteries in Tibet for religious training but that nothing had come of it so far.
  3. Our people brought gifts of foodgrains, fodder and cash for the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama invariably refused cash gifts but accepted foodgrains and fodder to the extent required. His party offered to pay for the porterage but I explained to them that Government of India had already accepted responsibility for expenses on their travel. In most cases however, the people insisted in carrying his personal loads free of charge and refused payment inspite of considerable persuasion by me and other officials. I have been issuing rations from the … for the Dalai Lama and his entourage to the extra required and be submitting accounts separately to the administration for sanction.
  4. Two or three junior officers of the entourage struck us as being uninterested in the Tibetan movement and seemed keen to settle down in India.
  5. It seems that the Tibetan officials would like to make more frequent use of the Tawang route for movement from and to Tibet and to maintain contact with Yul Gyal Lhuntse and the Rebel Forces. They might seek facilities from the Government of India in this regard.
  6. The point on which I need further guidance is as to what should be done with the stragglers from the party who are unable to join the entourage before the party leaves the Division. There are two or three attendants who are being left behind in Bomdi La due to their illness and there are some others who have not been able to move fast enough and have still not reached Bomdi La. We would also like to know as to whether any change of policy is envisaged in regard to giving asylum to the refugees from Tibet whose number is likely to increase considerably once the Bumla route opens.
It has been a great experience and privilege for us all here to receive and look after the Dalai Lama during his journey through this Division and our task was made easier by his grace, charm and informality.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,
Sd. Har Mander Singh

To Shri K L Mehta, ICS
Adviser to the Governor of Assam,
Shillong.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The great economic and geopolitical asymmetry between India and China

My article The great economic and geopolitical asymmetry between India and China appeared in The Daily Mirror.

Here is the link...

At the end of the first round of the strategic dialogue between India and China co-chaired by Zhang Yesui, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and Jaishankar, the Indian Foreign Secretary, The Global Times commented in a paternalistic tone: “One lesson India may learn from China is to be honest with oneself. Asymmetry in economic and geopolitical power is natural for any bilateral relations.”
While the ‘asymmetry’ may be in China’s favour in many fields, there is one domain where India is far in advance on the Middle Kingdom; it is the people’s participation in the State’s governance through fair and open elections.

Police State
Though Indians elections may look ‘chaotic’ from Beijing, the process brings an obvious stability to India. This is absent in China, which is fast becoming a police State.
Take Tibet, a couple of weeks ago, it was announced that police dogs would be patrolling the streets of Lhasa. For the first time on February 16, the Public Security Bureau (PSB) used dogs in the Tibetan capital. According to China News Network, the dogs will “enhance the actual capacity and level of the Tibetan police force.” The same source reported that the dogs will patrol areas such as the Potala Palace Square, the Jokhang Temple or the railway station.
Some may tempted to say that a similar situation exists in the Kashmir Valley, but let us not forget that despite the constant incitation from the other side of the LoC, J&K has its own elected Government and Legislative Assembly, its own Constitution and even its flag. Would Beijing agree to offer this to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang or the Tibetans, the situation would certainly not be so explosive.
In January, the Chinese media reported that eight people were killed in a violent attack in Pishan county of Hotan Prefecture in Southern Xinjiang. According to the local Government, three knife-wielding men attacked and stabbed several people. Subsequently, the police shot dead the three attackers and ten others were injured. The Chinese media asserted: "Order has been restored and an investigation is ongoing. The identity of the attackers were not disclosed,” but they were obviously Uyghurs.
A few days earlier, Radio Free Asia (RFA) had reported that Uyghurs had been called to several meetings to confess their 'crimes'. According to RFA, this was part of a campaign called ‘Revealing Errors’; the meetings were held in Aksu Prefecture "to uncover behavior considered politically destabilizing.” The same source added: “Residents are called to a podium one by one to confess these errors after they have listed them on a 39-question form. They are also told they will face legal consequences if they attempt to cover up their own or anyone else’s anti-state activities.”
Does it not sound like the return of the Cultural Revolution?
Here, there is certainly a great asymmetry between India and China.
There are others: while during the Sino-Indian Strategic Dialogue, Beijing refused to make a step forward and support the UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar, however, China keeps complaining that it is threatened by Muslim fundamentalists. Is it not a contradiction? The fast development of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) may bring more trouble for Xinjiang as the State-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan is bound to percolate north.

Border Control
Associated Press (AP) reported that China was already “tightening border controls in its northwestern Xinjiang region amid rising terrorism threats.”
According to The China Daily, the crackdown “seeks to prevent suspected insurgents both from leaving Xinjiang to fight abroad and from returning to the region after receiving military training overseas.”
Beijing seems more and more nervous, especially ahead of the crucial 19th Congress, which may witness big political changes at the end of the year.
The situation in Xinjiang is so tense that the Chinese authorities have ordered all motor vehicles in Bayingol Prefecture to have mandatory satellite tracking devices installed. On February 4, the Bayingol traffic police announced via its Weibo microblog account: "Cars are the main transportation means for terrorists, and are also a frequently chosen tool to carry out terrorist attacks" All vehicles are required to install GPS connected to Beidou navigation satellite by June 30, "so they can be tracked wherever they go.”

Rising Unrest
But that is not all, on February 27, more than 10,000 Peoples’ Armed Police (PAP) paraded in the streets of Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital. The authorities spoke of a rapid-response system to quell unrest. During the rally, helicopters hovered around the city, while armored vehicles threateningly patrolled the streets of the capital. It was the fourth such massive display in one year. On the occasion, Xinjiang's Party Secretary Chen Quanguo told the PAP that they must realize the ‘grim conditions’ facing the region; he ominously told the police to: “bury the corpses of terrorists and terror gangs in the vast sea of the people's war.”
Chen also dispatched 1,500 PAP to the ‘frontlines’ in Kashgar, Hotan and Aksu, not far from the Indian border.

Border Control
For Beijing, the present show of force in Xinjiang goes along with the strengthening of China’s border defence; the Western Theater Command facing India is of great concern for Beijing. It was recently announced that Beijing has started building a second highway between Tibet and Xinjiang, linking the National Highways 219 (cutting across Western Tibet and the Aksai Chi) and 315, running towards Qinghai province (via the ‘nuclear’ sites in Lop Nor). When completed, it will be a big game-changer for Xinjiang and Tibet and here the asymmetry is clearly in favour of China.
Is India prepared to take on this new challenge?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

China wins the Propaganda War against India

The Dalai Lama in Tawang after crossing the McMahon Line to take refuge in India
China did not claim Tawang at that time
An unnecessary controversy has been created by The Times of India which two days ago, published a ‘propaganda’ article in favour of China, about exchanging Tawang for some Chinese ‘possessions’, in actual fact part of India’s territory.
To help better understand the historical background, I have posted on my website, the transcript of the talks between Zhou Enlai with different Indian leaders. The Chinese Premier visited India in April 1960; during his stay, Zhou had 17 hours of discussions just with Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister.
Note that it has never been question, even in 1960 to 'cede' Tawang to China.
Unfortunately, the transcript of the talks between Zhou and V.K. Krishna Menon, India’s Defence Minister is not available.
Why? It is classified.
Why? Nobody knows.
The Times of India’s story was planted by Dai Bingguo, one of the foremost Chinese officials dealing with foreign policy under the Hu Jintao's administration.
Dai was instrumental in drafting the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question.
The agreement was signed on April 11, 2005 in New Delhi.
Dai was then the Special Representative for the border negotiations with India, as well as the powerful Secretary-General of the Foreign Affairs Leading Small Group.
Article VII of the Agreement says: “In reaching a boundary settlement, the two sides shall safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas.”
It clearly means that Tawang area, which is heavily populated, would not be ceded to China.
Mr Dai (and Beijing) seem to have changed his/their mind on Tawang.
Why is Dai raking up the issue now?
For different reasons, it followed the not-so-successful Sino-Indian Strategic Dialogue recently held in Beijing, but perhaps more importantly, it is linked with the Dalai Lama's forthcoming visit to Tawang.
Further, the Two Sessions (the meetings of the National People’s Congress and the the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) are around the corner, with a lot at stake, at least for the Chinese leadership.
The publication of this type of article by The Times of India (without any historical background and a scoopy title) raises two serious questions: first, why should Indian journalists propagate stories obviously planted by Beijing and second, can the Chinese be trusted even after they have signed an agreement?
Regarding the first question, the time has come for the Ministries of External Affairs, Defence and Home Affairs, etc. to conduct classes/courses for senior editors and journalists on the historical background of the border ‘dispute’ with China as well as other similar contentious issues.
At the end of the 1950s and beginning 1960s, 14 White Papers on China were published. It had a tremendous pedagogical effect; the MEA should start again publishing White Papers on intricate issues and distribute widely the information to the Indian public.
Can a sense of ‘national interests’ be inculcated into the Indian media?
It is a tall order? Money and ‘historical shortcuts' are far easier.
As for the second question, it is difficult to trust China as long as it behaves in this manner.
Lastly, I wish the politicians of Arunachal Pradesh would have started twitting and defended their State.
Incidentally, in 2003, the Central Military Commission (CMC) approved the guiding conceptual umbrella for information operations for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – it is called the 'Three Warfares'.
The concept is based on three mutually reinforcing strategies:
(1) the coordinated use of strategic psychological operations;
(2) overt and covert media manipulation; and
(3) legal warfare designed to manipulate strategies, defense policies, and perceptions of target audiences abroad.
China already won the second against India.