Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Reincarnation with Marxist Characteristics

Propaganda photo of the Golden Urn recognition of the Chinese Panchen Lama.
Party officials are watching!
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was born on 25 April 1989 in Lhari County in Nagchu Prefecture, North of Lhasa, was chosen by the Dalai Lama on 15 May 1995 as the 11th Panchen Lama, which is the second highest position in Tibetan Buddhism.
The Panchen Lama will be 30-year old tomorrow.
Since 1996, he is under house arrest somewhere in China (probably in Beijing).
The Comunist authorities have systematically refused to tell his well-wishers and the world about his whereabouts.
This is China in the new era...
On the occasion of Gedun Choekyi's birthday, I re-post something I had written in 2015.
Another article How the next Dalai Lama may be selected! has several pictures of the Golden Urn farce is worth reading.
Incidentally, Gyaltsen Norbu, the Panchen Lama 'selected' by China is also born in Lhari.

[My 2015 posting]
The Communist leadership has recently developed a great knowledge about ‘soul’ reincarnation!
Poor Karl Marx!
Though probably he never heard about the possibility to ‘reincarnate’, he would have certainly disapproved and considered this a bourgeois revisionist ideological concept. But the times have changed.
This week, on the same day, China Tibet Online affiliated to Xinhua, published 5 articles on reincarnation of lamas, more particularly on the present Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.
One of the pieces explains that reincarnation is “a complete set of religious rites and historical mechanism” and “as China adopts the policy of freedom to religious belief,” the Communist Party accepts ‘reincarnations’. Of course, the recognition process must follow the Party’s rules and regulations, which prime over religious belief.
One of the articles goes into history and explains that the title of ‘Dalai Lama’ was conferred by the Central Government (China); it has a history of over 400 years, beginning in 1587 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The author conveniently forgets to mention the fact that ‘Dalai’ is a Mongol name meaning ‘Ocean’ (of Wisdom).  But probably, Mongolia belonged to China too!
The article mentions ‘The Regulations on Religious Affairs’ and ‘Tibetan Buddhist Reincarnation Management Approach’ enacted in 2007 by the atheist Party in Beijing; it stipulated that “the Dalai Lama should follow the religious rites, historical mechanism and the national laws and regulations.”
Today, Beijing says that the present 14th Dalai Lama, living in India has “no authoritative power on his [own] reincarnation issue”, it adds, quoting some of the Tibetan leader’s recent declarations, that the Tibetan leader even thought of appointing his own reincarnation while he was still alive, or reincarnating as a foreigner or a woman…”.
The article calls the Dalai Lama’s recent statements “a blasphemy towards the religious rites and historical mechanism of Tibetan Buddhism, a great disrespect to the followers of the religion, and an absolute provocation towards the authority of the central government.”
Why this virulent campaign in favour of a reincarnation process ‘with socialist characteristics’ at this point in time?
Beijing is becoming increasing conscious that it is unable to control the restive populations living on the Tibetan Plateau and once the Dalai Lama departs for the Heavenly Fields, the situation may degenerate further. The Communist leadership wants to prepare the stage for a ‘safe’ Chinese Dalai Lama, under the Party’s control. It will help the Communist cause, they believe.
The present leader has repeatedly made it clear that the final decision about his future life(s) remains his own. Beijing however believes that it is the Party’s responsibility.
Another reason for urgency is the 50th anniversary of the Foundation of the Tibetan Autonomous Region which will be celebrated in 2015, as well as the Sixth Tibet Work Forum which will decide the policies for the Roof of the World for the next 5 or 10 years, which will be held in the coming weeks.
The Communist Government is banking on the Golden Urn process to turn the issue in its favour.
Though historically wrong, another article affirms: “the procedure of drawing lots from the golden urn is the most significant religious rite and historic mechanism.”
Beijing’s tainted version of the history is that sometimes “several ‘soul boys’ appeared at the same time, it indubitably aroused disputes between different sides. To solve the problem, Emperor Qianlong granted two golden urns in 1792, one placed in the Lama Temple of Beijing and the other in the Jokhang Temple of Lhasa.”
The Golden Urn was indeed used a very few times in history, especially when Tibet was too weak to resist China’s bullying tactics (interestingly, Beijing admits today that the present Dalai Lama was ‘exempted’ of the test).
Now, Beijing would like to use the Golden Urn again for the next Dalai Lama, as they have done for their Panchen Lama candidate, Gyaltsen Norbu (for the past 20 years, the boy selected by the Dalai Lama is still languishing under house arrest somewhere in China).
How Norbu was selected is recounted by a Tibetan Lama, who participated in the ‘test’ and later managed to escape China.
The Lama, Arjia Rinpoche, the Abbot of the Kumbum monastery in today’s Qinghai Province, was part of the great tamasha to ‘select’ the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995.
The process is explained in his book, Surviving the Dragon: A Tibetan Lama's Account of 40 Years under Chinese Rule.
In 1995, Beijing, furious that the Dalai Lama had ‘unilaterally’ decided on the new incarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, decided to use the Golden Urn.
In November 1995, an emergency meeting was called in Beijing to ‘clarify’ the Communist Party’s position: “We must not allow the Dalai's separatist clique to interfere.” To avoid the Dalai Lama being involved in the selection process, the Golden Urn was the best method, it was decided.
A few days later, some Party cadres and high Lamas were called to Lhasa.
The test was to be held in the Jokhang Cathedral: “We landed at Gonggar airport in Lhasa, which was tightly guarded by People's Liberation Army soldiers and armed policemen. …Soldiers were lined up along the entire route ‘for our protection’. …At the Lhasa Hotel, I saw squads of PLA soldiers with machine guns, as well as regular police, surrounding the hotel so that no one could slip in or out,” recalls Arjia.
The Communist officials told the rinpoches:"The Golden Urn Ceremony will take place tonight, please be prepared. …If a separatist clique [followers of the Dalai Lama] attempts any disruption of the ceremony, everyone will be protected.”
The ceremony took place on November 29, 1995 at 2 am: “As we walked toward the statue of the Buddha [the famous Jowo], we saw undercover policemen standing in every corner and shadow.”
Arjia Rinpoche continues the narration of the dramatic event: “In front of the statue of Sakyamuni Buddha was a large table covered with a yellow silk cloth. Alone on the table stood a golden urn about 15 inches high, surrounded by seated high officials.”
Luo Gan, a Minister (later, a member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee) presided over the ceremony: “Inside the gold urn was a small case, which contained three ivory lots, an inch wide and seven or eight inches long. The names of the three candidates were written on three separate pieces of paper, each of which was then slipped into a tightly fitted pouch of yellow silk. …The three ivory lots were placed into the Golden Urn.”
Arjia remembers: “I expected him to lift the vessel and shake one of the lots out of the urn, but instead he passed his hand quickly over the lots and pulled one out.”
The name of the ‘selected’ candidate was Gyaltsen Norbu
An official present later told Arjia: “When we made our selection we left nothing to chance. In the silk pouches of the ivory pieces we put a bit of cotton at the bottom of one of them, so it would be a little higher than the others and the right candidate would be chosen.”
That was it.
There is no doubt that the selection of the next Dalai Lama will be done in the same manner, if Beijing is allowed to have its way.
There is another factor that Beijing is aware of, though not mentioned in the recent articles.
Traditionally, the Panchen Lama has to put his seal on the entire process. To make sure that the Chinese protégé obeys, President Xi Jinping gave him an ‘audience’ at Zhongnanhai in Beijing on June 10. The encounter looked more like summons-cum-lecture than an ‘audience’. Xinhua announced that the meeting showed that the Party “has consistently given a high level of attention to Tibet.” It also indicated, said the news agency, “the great importance that the Central Committee attaches to the religious work.”
Apparently Gyaltsen Norbu, though selected by Beijing in a dubious manner, needed to be briefed: could he rebel like his predecessor and refuse to follow the diktats of the Party?
In all probability Norbu was told what he should do …in case of a new Dalai Lama needs to be ‘recognized’ by the Communist Party. 
But, will this solve the Tibetan issue? Certainly not!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Mao Bluffed India in 1962

Damshung, the first civilian airport, North of Lhasa (circa 1955)
My article Mao Bluffed India in 1962, appeared in Mail Today.

In the evening of November 19, 1962, Jawaharlal Nehru sent, in panic, a letter to Kennedy.
Early in the day, he had already written to the US President asking for help: “The situation that has developed is really desperate. We have to have more comprehensive assistance if the Chinese are to be prevented from taking over the whole of Eastern India,” said the second letter.
Nehru insisted on the importance of the Air Force to ‘save’ India; he wrote: “We have repeatedly felt the need of using air arm in support of our land forces, but have been unable to do so [due to] the present state of our air and radar equipment,” he wanted immediate help from the US to “strengthen our air arm sufficiently to stem the tide of Chinese advance.”
Like many in India, I believed this version of history; until I met Wing Commander Jag Mohan ‘Jaggi’ Nath a few months ago in Mumbai.
His mentor was Arjan Singh, the only Marshal of Air Force (India just celebrated his hundred years), who had code-named Jaggi, ‘Professor’.
Jaggi flew specially camera-fitted Canberras for 8 years under 106 Squadron, the most secretive unit of the Indian Air Force, which was tasked to photograph the Chinese deployment in Tibet; from 1960 to 1962 (before and during the war with China), flying every day in reconnaissance missions over the Aksai Chin and Tibet, the young pilot earned his first Maha Vir Chakra (MVC); the citation says: “Squadron Leader Jag Mohan Nath has fulfilled a number of hazardous operations tasks involving flying over difficult mountain terrain, both by day and by night, in adverse weather conditions and in complete disregard of his personal safety. He has displayed conspicuous gallantry, a very high sense of duty and a high degree of professional skill.”
His missions proved immensely useful to learn everything about the Chinese military build-up on the Tibetan plateau. Unfortunately, the political leadership refused to believe the hard evidence gathered during of his sorties. Jaggi’s conclusions were: China had NO Air Force worth its name on the Tibetan plateau in 1962.
The fate of the Sino-Indian War could have been totally different had India used its own Air Force, but the Government in Delhi chose to ignore the brave pilot findings and …and take the extreme step write to Kennedy.
 ‘Jaggi’ is still today fired-up by the events of 1962: “'If we had sent a few airplanes (into Tibet), we could have wiped the Chinese out. …And everything could have been different in the 1962 War. …They did not believe me there was no Chinese air force. …Can you imagine what would have happened if we had used the IAF at that time? …The Chinese would have never dared do anything down the line.”
According to a book published last year on Kindle, The 1959 Tibetan Uprising Documents: The Chinese Army Documents, the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) was extensively used in Eastern Tibet to ‘bomb’ the Khampa rebellion: “The Tibetan uprising was the only conflict in which the use of the Chinese Air Force was important. In any other armed conflict since 1949 the Chinese Air Force was not used nor did it have much influence on the outcome.”
The book published official statistics: “We can see how many bombs were dropped, how many bullets or shells from fighter aircraft and bombers were fired in the direction of members of the Tibetan resistance.”
But that was in 1957-1959.
Some of these sorties were ‘bombing’ missions (22 with 313 bombs of a weight of 100kg each were dropped). Some 120 tons of food and ammunition were also airdropped (as well as 150,000 propaganda leaflets to convince the recalcitrant Tibetans of the goodness of Mao’s regime).
Later the situation changed, on 10 February 1960, a report issued by the Tibet Military District spoke of “shortcomings and technical difficulties”.
The Tu-4 bombers (Soviet copy of the US B29) used by the PLAAF were stationed in Golmud at an altitude of 2,700 meters; although lower than Central Tibet, the range and bomb load was limited to about fifty percent of its normal capacity. In Tibet itself there was only one airport at Damshung, 120 kilometres north of Lhasa; it was practically not used.
A momentous event took place around that time; Mao decided that Nikita Khrushchev was a ‘revisionist’ and split with the Soviet Union. As a result, China had no spare parts for its Soviet-made fleet and most of the PLAAF airplanes were grounded.
Worse for the PLAAF, there was no fuel available in Tibet anymore.
While in 1960, 2,220 tons of fuel could be imported from outside China, probably courtesy Tursun Uljabayevich Uljabayev, the corrupt Party Secretary of Tajikistan (via Xinjiang and the Aksai Chin road), Uljabayev was sacked in 1960 and the amount of imported fuel fell to 95 tons in 1961 and 30 tons in 1962. There was clearly no question of running sorties on the Indian borders without spares and fuel.
Why was Nehru not informed of these facts? Or was he?
He was probably too much under the influence of his Defence Minister, VK Krishna Menon. In a secret report written as he was forced to resign in November 1962, the flamboyant and arrogant minister wrote: “China is reported to have the third largest Air Force in the world. This may well be true.” Menon was aware of the fuel issue: “[China] had inadequate capacity in fuel in terms of war requirements,” he was however told that Mao had some 2000 fighter bombers (and it was an underestimate according him).
The truth was that China had no aircrafts, no spares, no fuel; Mao had bluffed Nehru and it worked. That is today called IW (Information Warfare).

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Hidden Kingdom of Pemako ...hidden no more

Metok 'village'
Recently, several ‘official’ Chinese websites published a photo-feature on Metok county, North of Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
While Delhi still lives with its century-old ‘Inner Line Permit’, China is fast developing its borders (with India) by building a modern infrastructure and wooing the local tribes, providing them hefty revenues. These Chinese websites carry the same text on each of the 20 or so photos depicting  “Medog [Chinese name for Metok] County of Nyingchi City of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. [TAR]”
It is explained that ‘Metok’ means ‘Secret Lotus’ in Tibetan language (in fact it simply means ‘flower’), is located in Nyingchi (Tibetan ‘Nyingtri’): “on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo [Yarlung Tsangpo or Siang in Arunachal Pradesh and Brahmaputra in Assam] River and the south of the Himalayas.”
Metok County is thus described: “[it] boasts of amazing natural landscapes due to its unique geographical position. Before the traffic opened [in 2013], people could not arrive in Medog except for walking. Getting in and out of Medog was a dangerous journey. Frequent natural disasters such as avalanches, landslides, and mudslides blocked visitors from the outside world. The construction of roads to Medog is a tough task because of the complicated geological conditions and disastrous weather.”

The Opening of the Tunnel
The great change occurred in 2013: “With several attempts thwarted in the last decades, a 117-kilometer highway connecting Medog with neighboring Bomi County finally opened on October 31, 2013.”
The opening of the tunnel was a game changer for the remote area …and for India’s security.
View from the Chinese point of view, “the completion of the Medog highway not only promoted the communication between Medog and the outside world, but also benefited the poverty relief of border ethnic minorities. Crude stilted houses have been replaced with modern houses consisting of complete facilities. Commodity prices have been lowered to a level similar with the outside world. The local economy especially tourism develops fast in recent years, unfolding to the world a new Medog with its mysterious beauty.”
Not a word about the ‘dual’ use of the infrastructure by the civilian and military administration; there is no doubt that it is a boon for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which for the past six years has a far easier access to the Indian border in this sector.
The photos show the development of what was a tiny village a few years ago; it is flabbergasting (see below).

Danyang
Pressure on the local populations
While developing areas like Metok, the Chinese government tries to woo the local tribes, which have many similarities with the Indian ones, south of the McMahon line.
The propaganda has been going on full swing; Kangba TV reported that “Lhobas of Tibet find new ways of living.”
According to Wikipedia, 'Lhobas' are an amalgamation of Sino-Tibetan-speaking tribes living in and around Pemako, a region in southeastern Tibet including Mainling, Metok and Zayül Counties of Nyingchi City/prefecture and Lhünze County of Lhoka Prefecture.
The Chinese government officially recognizes the Lhobas as one of China's 56 ethnic minorities.
Linguistically and culturally, it is not a homogeneous group. The two main tribal groups falling under the designation ‘Lhoba’ designation are the Mishmi, who speak the Idu Mishmi language and tribes who speak the Bokar dialect (Abo Tani). These tribes are found on both side of the border though in greater numbers in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Tagins of Subansiri district of Arunachal are also identified by Chinese authorities as ‘Lhoba’.
Incidentally, out of the 20 delegates from the TAR to the National People’s Congress, three are from the border areas (with Arunachal):
  • Kesang Dikyi, Monpa, Female, Teacher from Metok
  • Drolkar, Tibetan, Female, from Yume
  • Tashi Gyaltsen, Lhoba, Female from Nyingchi

The Lhoba tribe
To come back to the TV Channel, it explains: “The Lhoba people, an ethnic minority group in the Tibet Autonomous Region took less than 40 years to modernize from their primitive hunting lives deep in the mountains.”
As mentioned in a previous posting, the policy of the Government in Beijing (and in Lhasa) has been to sedentarize the population, Kangba TV said: “Since 1984, when they moved down from the mountains with the help of the local government, they began to settle down in villages, earn regular wages and learn farming from their Tibetan counterparts. Now the Lhoba population in three villages in Manling county, Nyingchi City, have prospered greatly from the tourism industry.”
Since the Fifth Tibet Work Forum in 2010, Beijing has decided to play the ‘tourist card’ to bring some well-being and prosperity to the border areas ...and the infrastructure required by the PLA.
Among other things, it brought ‘modern’ facilities such as TV broadcasts: “In 1983, China created its first supercomputer, named Galaxy, and the country began seeing broadcasts of the Chinese New Year celebration gala on television.”
The article then quotes one Daniang, who, as 7-year-old “was busy hunting prey every day in the forest, carrying arrows and a bow on his back. His tribe was isolated from the outside world. They moved from place to place, following their prey, such as leopards, bears and boars, and lived in temporary wooden shelters. They ate the meat and sometimes traded the hides with local Tibetans for salt. They wore animal skins and rarely had enough food to fill their stomachs.”
In other words, China brought the ‘civilization’ …through the relocation: “In 1984, Daniang's tribe was discovered by the local government and relocated to a village. The government provided land and houses, and the local agriculture and animal husbandry bureau sent experts to teach them how to grow crops, including highland barley and wheat.”

Metok town, North of Arunachal Pradesh
A New Source of Income
According to the Chinese website: “In 2008, three villages with relatively high Lhoba populations in Mainling county began to develop tourism with the support of the local government, bringing them a new source of income.”
But it is only in 2010 that it became an official policy: “The beautiful mountain scenery, the exotic customs of the Lhoba ethnic group and their history of hunting life soon attracted many tourists from around the country.”
Dawa, the Party Secretary of the Mainling township, observed that the villages received 200,000 tourists from March to October last year: “they spent more than 2 million yuan. Each village household received a dividend of 15,000 yuan”.
Obviously the figures quoted are wrong; it would mean an expenditure of 10 yuans per tourist, but there is no doubt that the villagers run homestays, hotels, restaurants and food stalls, at least during the peak season: “Many of them have learned Mandarin for daily communication," said Dawa.
Tourism helps protect Lhoba culture according to the Party official: “many forms of intangible cultural heritage, such as bamboo weaving and fabric weaving were used in handicrafts. Traditional performances such at singing and dancing with long knives were preserved.”
The website admits that China has only 3,000 Lhoba people living in Tibet.
The Lhoba people who have their own language, though no written script, are struggling to preserve their heritage, said Daniang who added that the local government employs Lhoba teachers to revive the language.
He however admitted that the materials for their traditional costumes, including the shells and the turquoises …were provided by the government.
For the show?
With one stone, Beijing kills two birds, the ‘Lhoba’ culture is promoted, showing to the tribes living south of the McMahon Line, that China is looking after its ‘minorities’ and perhaps more importantly, the border is ‘stabilized’, with a ‘dual’ infrastructure developed.
In case of a conflict with India, China will be ready to bring (and accommodate) tens of thousands troops on India’s borders.
Thanks to tourism with Chinese characteristics…
Should not India wake up?

Here are some pictures of Metok...











Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Word's Double Standards

The tragedy which took place in Paris two days ago, when Notre Dame de Paris, the emblematic Cathedral in the heart of the French Capital, was engulfed in a fire, has created a lot of emotions all over the world, including in China.
All those who visited the Cathedral understand why?
Notre Dame was/is the symbol of the genius of the country.
The Chinese bloggers have been very active to express their deep sorrow.
One published picture said: "Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral  yesterday and today. The fire is still raging. A tragedy for the history of humanity, The French President has jst announced that it will be rebuilt."
Thousands of such messages could be read on the Chinese Internet.
It is good. It is touching.
But I wonder why  the Chinese press ...and the World Press, practically kept rather quiet when the same tragedy befell on Jokhang Cathedral in Central Lhasa, (which was built several centuries before Notre Dame). The information was announced and dropped immediately.
I wonder why there is always double standards when it comes to Tibet.
It is sad...
I  repost an article that I had written last year on the fire in Jokhang...


February 2018 article
Last night, Xinhua reported that "a fire broke out at 6:40 pm in part of Jokhang Temple in Lhasa."
According to the official Tibet Daily, the fire was eventually put off in the evening,
The News Agency said: "Located at the center of old Lhasa, Jokhang Temple is a renowned temple for Tibetan Buddhism. It has a history of more than 1,300 years and houses many cultural treasures, including a life-sized statue of Sakyamuni when he was 12 years old."
This inauspiciously occurred on the second day of the Losar, the Tibetan New Year (Earth Dog Year).

The Statue of Jowo Rinpoche
The Jokhang temple, the Central Cathedral in the Tibetan capital, houses Jowo Shakyamuni or Jowo Rinpoche, the most sacred statue in Tibet.
The Jowo Rinpoche statue is said to have been personally blessed by the Buddha.
It came to be owned by the king of Magadha, who gave it to a Tang emperor of China.
One of the emperor's clansman's daughter, Princess Wenchen Kongjo took it to Lhasa in a wooden cart when she married the Great King of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo.
During King Mangsong Mangtsen's reign (649-676), due to a threat that the Tang Chinese might invade, Princess Wencheng is said to have hidden the statue of Jowo Rinpoche in a secret chamber in the Jokhang.
Another Chinese Princess Jincheng, sometime after 710 CE, placed in the central chapel.
The statue was badly damaged by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution.

Signs sent by the Gods
The Tibetans believe that the Gods are from time to time sending signs to the humans.
It can be forewarning messages for the bad (and good) times to come.
I post here extracts of my book The Fate of Tibet.
It was August 15, 1950 (coincidentally (?) India's Independence Day).
The signs were strong.
On that day, the Gods spoke.
Three months later, Tibet was invaded by the 'Liberation Army' of China.
The epicentre of the earthquake was also symbolic; it occurred in Rima, north of the McMahon Line (Kibithu/Walong sector), which saw heavy fighting in October/November 1962.
It was one of the most powerful earthquakes of the 20th century (8.6 on the Richter scale).
In India, it became known as the 'Assam Earthquake' due to the extensive damages in the State.
The course of the rivers changed in several places.

Here are the extracts of The Fate of Tibet:

The Dalai Lama who was 15-year old, was in Lhasa, a few hundred kilometers away.
He later wrote about the ominous earthquake which shook Tibet on August 15, 1950
It was like an artillery barrage – which is what we assumed to be the cause of both the tremors and the noise: a test of some sorts being carried out by the Tibetan army…Some people reported seeing a strange red glow in the skies in the direction from which the noise came….
For centuries, Tibet had remained isolated. The nation’s energies and time was consecrated to achieve spiritual goals, her defence was neglected and until the beginning of the twentieth century, nobody (except the Thirteenth Dalai Lama) had too much been bothered by the international happenings.
Formal recognition or boundary delimitation [with India] had been in a way forced on the Tibetans by Younghusband’s invasion and later by Sir Henry McMahon at the Simla Convention.
At the end of the forties, Tibet had begun to wake up at the sight of the black clouds gathering around the Land of Snow: the atheist 'east wind' was threatening to blow over the sacred Shangri-La. 
The first signs that mythical Tibet was soon to forever disappear were appearing.
The 'Rima' earthquake was the most striking one.
...In the evening of August 15, a terrible earthquake shook Tibet. "This was no ordinary earthquake; it felt like the end of the world,
writes Robert Ford, the British Radio operator working in Chamdo (Kham);
 For hours afterwards, the sky over the south-eastern Tibet glowed with an infernal red light, diffused with the pungent scent of sulphur.
For the Tibetans, it was one more bad omen, following some recent prophecies of the State Oracle and the appearance of a bright horse-tailed comet similar to the one viewed before the Chinese invasion of 1910.

The time has come
Suddenly in Tibet, everyone understood that the time had come.
The Last Testament of the Thirteen  Dalai Lama [‘And Long and Dark Shall be the Night’] came back at the mind of all, but it was too late, the dies had been thrown long ago.
Now, Tibet would have to go through the ordeal and the only hope for the Tibetans was it would not be too painful and long.
In the meantime, the Indian Government was torn between two sentiments: on one side Tibet was a small (though large by size) independent nation with very rich and old cultural and religious bonds with India and on the other side Nehru and some of his colleagues had an immense admiration for the new People's Republic who like India, had to struggle against colonial powers to gain her freedom. For many in Delhi, China and India were the symbol of a ‘New Asia’ and the newly-found ‘eternal friendship’ with China was of supreme importance.
This one-way friendship was to be the fountainhead of Nehru’s Tibet policy till the fateful day of October 1962 when the troops of Marshal Lin Biao crossed the McMahon Line over the Tagla Ridge. That day Nehru knew that the so-called friendship was a one way traffic, but he was too late and he never physically and psychologically recovered.
As we will see in the debate in the Lok Sabha in December 1950, a few Indian political leaders understood about the security of the Indian borders and the defence implications of the ‘resurgence’ of the Chinese empire.
Among them, one man stands as a giant: Sardar Patel.
But fate took him away from the political scene at this most crucial time of Indian history.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Mystery of the Dalai Lama's Plane Solved?

The content of my interview with Wing Commander Jaggi Nath has serious collaterals as far the history of the relations between India, Tibet and China is concerned.
Among other things, the twice-awarded Maha Vir Chakra said: “If we had sent a few airplanes (into Tibet), we could have wiped the Chinese out. …And everything could have been different in the 1962 War. …They did not believe me there was no Chinese air force. …Can you imagine what would have happened if we had used the IAF at that time? The Chinese would have never dared do anything down the line.”

A Telling Incident
Take a small incident, which occurred as the Dalai Lama was trekking in direction of the Indian border to take refuge in the Land of the Buddha.
It was on March 29, 1959.
The Tibetan leader recalled in his memoirs, Freedom in Exile: “From Lhuntse Dzong we passed to the small village of Jhora [or Jorra] and from there to the Karpo pass, the last before the border. Just as we were nearing the highest point of the track we received a bad shock. Out of nowhere, an aeroplane appeared and flew directly overhead. It passed quickly - too quickly for anyone to be able to see what markings it had - but not so fast that the people on board could have missed spotting us. This was not a good sign. If it was Chinese, as it probably was, there was a good chance that they now knew where we were. With this information they could return to attack us from the air, against which we had no protection. Whatever the identity of the aircraft, it was a forceful reminder that I was not safe anywhere in Tibet. Any misgivings I had about going into exile vanished with this realisation: India was our only hope.”
I have detailed elsewhere on this blog, the Dalai Lama's arrival at Khenzimane/Chuthangmu and his reception by the Assistant Political Officer (TS Murthy) in Tawang and a detachment of the Assam Rifles.
The Dalai Lama continued: “A little later, the men I had sent on from Lhuntse Dzong returned with the news that the Indian Government had signalled its willingness to receive me. I was very relieved to hear this, as I had not wanted to set foot in India without permission."

No Chinese Planes in Southern Tibet
Today, it is clear that there was no PLA Air Force worth its name and the Chinese planes did not have the capacity to fly over Southern Tibet, one can only deduct that the plane seen by the Dalai Lama and his party was a Canberra of the 106 Squadron.
It was probably Air Marshal (then Wing Commander) Randhir Singh, the Commanding Officer (CO) of 106 who flew over the Dalai Lama, whose party was on wireless communication (provided by the CIA?) with Lhasa and Delhi.
In his report to the Political Officer in Gangtok and the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi, Maj SL Chhiber wrote: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama, smelling danger, left Lhasa secretly on the night of the 17th March, 1959, with important members of his personal staff, three Cabinet Ministers and members of his family for Lhoka area (south of Lhasa), where at that time Khampas had full sway and from where it was easier for him to escape to India if need arose.”

More details on the uprising and the flight
In the same report, we get more details of the flight of the Dalai Lama: “By 17th March all the strategic places between Norbulingka and Chakpuri/Potala were occupied either by Tibetan soldiers or volunteers. Since our area happens to be in between Norbulingka and Chakpuri number of volunteers and soldiers could be seen with arms and ammunitions at nearby places. Some of them for their convenience used to cross through our area though we tried various methods to stop them.”
The account continues: “A rumour was afloat on 17th March that the Chinese had fired three mortor shells from their motor station in Chandannagar which is on north-east of Norbulingka towards latter. Between the 11th March and the evening of the 19th March the Tibetan troops sounded alarms number of accidentally by the in-experienced volunteers or fired to test their weapons or tried their skill on target shooting.”
Now, the crucial piece of information which contradicts what the Prime Minister said in Parliament on March 23: “On 18th morning we came to know that the Dalai Lama had left Norbulingka on the previous night and was proceeding towards Lhoka area. We also noticed that number of Tibetan troops had considerably reduced and their places taken up by volunteers. Now it looked that fighting would start any time. What actually made the Dalai Lama leave suddenly can only be told by him or his advisers but we feel that his advisers probably came to know of some plans of the Chinese that put fear in them and made them leave. The plan might have been about the whole sale arrest by the Chinese of all the Tibetan officials and others taking part in the movement. We don’t think that the departure was decided on the 17th March only. The Dalai Lama might not have thought of it but his advisers must have planned it immediately after the trouble started on the 10th March, 1959.”

Air Marshal Randhir Singh (right) with Wing Commander Jaggi Nath (Center)
Thereafter, India was in constant wireless connection with the Tibetan leader's party.
The Air Headquarter must have decided a sortie of a Canberra to check the exact position of the party and which route the Dalai Lama would take to reach the border.
Let us not forget that the Dalai Lama had already written to the Indian Prime Minister two/three days earlier 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 had 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…”
There were different routes from Tsona, the last town north of the border (Bumla border pass for example).
Squadron 106 was probably asked to check.
As the 106 sorties were Top Secret and no log book of the flights were kept (and Air Marshal Randhir Singh recently passed away), we shall probably never have more detail.
But there is no doubt in my mind that it was an Indian Air Force plane, a Canberra who flew over the Dalai Lama's party, when they were on their way to India.
For Hollywood, a Chinese plane would have certainly been more exiting.
Too bad for the US film industry.

In Tibet, an atheist regime talks of reincarnation

The Dalai Lama in Tawang (April 1959)
My article In Tibet, an atheist regime talks of reincarnation appeared in The Asian Age/The Deccan Chronicle


Here is the link...

A worse contradiction is about the position of the atheist regime on the Dalai Lama’s rebirth.

China is the land of dichotomies, not to say contradictions. On March 31, 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet crossed the Indo-Tibet border in the Kameng Frontier Division, north of Tawang; he met a detachment of the Assam Rifles waiting to welcome him. He had had no choice but to flee his native land, as severe repression had taken place in Lhasa.
Three days before the Tibetan leader reached the Indian border, the Communist regime declared that the “feudal lord” had left his native land; that this would allow the serfs to be emancipated. Though thousands had died in Lhasa in the process of “emancipation”, Beijing still celebrates the massacre as the “Serfs Emancipation Day”.
On March 26, the 24-year-old Tibetan leader had sent a message to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India: “Ever since Tibet went under the control of Red China and the Tibetan government lost its powers in 1951...”
The Dalai Lama had decided to take refuge in India — a free nation.
On March 11, 2019, the Global Times affirmed: “Sixty years since the epoch-making democratic reform in Tibet, people in the plateau region have enjoyed unprecedented human rights in history.”
The tabloid of the Communist Party added: “The democratic reform in Tibet in 1959, led by the Communist Party of China, ended the cruel serfdom system and emancipated one million Tibetan serfs, or more than 90 per cent of the region’s then population.”
The article compares the massacre of the Tibetans in Lhasa in March 1959 by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to “the Abolition Movement led by former US President Abraham Lincoln, viewed as an immortal achievement for civilisation and human rights, the end of Tibet’s feudal serfdom”.
But it is not the last of the contradictions.
While proclaiming that the “Tibetan people enjoy unprecedented human rights in history”, the region has not only been closed to foreign tourists, but according to Human Rights Watch, on March 7, the Chinese authorities “staged mass rallies in Lhasa and other provincial cities”. A parade of armoured vehicles and military hardware was seen on the streets of Lhasa. Thousands of armed police and other security forces from across the region gathered to “pledge” loyalty to the party and its political objective of “comprehensive, long term stability”.
Though Beijing’s propaganda said “human rights” in Tibet have never been so good, it was announced that “24-hour patrols of some 100 police service stations in Lhasa had greatly improved the city’s peace and stability. …Not a single criminal case was reported in the palace area in the past eight years, mainly because of the police service station since 2011, which can respond to emergency calls in three minutes”.
Wang Yongpu, a police station chief working in Tibet for seven years, explained to the Global Times, “through the surveillance system, 24-hour patrols, security checks and cooperation with traffic departments, police in the service station can prevent crimes”.
The Epoch Times reported: “Having perfected facial recognition and Artificial Intelligence-enhanced surveillance systems, the Chinese regime is now applying the technology to taxis in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.”
The US-based publication quoted a report which appeared in Tibet News on March 6: “a Chinese state-run online news site, 200 new taxis were put into operation in Lhasa in February — equipped with real-time video surveillance — before they were assigned to taxi drivers. The GPS (Global Positioning System) has been upgraded from running on 2G mobile networks to 4G to optimise real-time monitoring”.
This technology was intended to “prevent drivers from violating safety regulations such as smoking and making phones calls while driving”.
So much for human rights!
The Chinese propaganda has a tragicomic side.
The reason given for banning foreign visitors visiting Tibet was given by Wu Yingjie, Tibet’s Communist Party’s secretary during the National People’s Congress (NPC) — he said that the restrictions were necessary because some visitors suffered from altitude sickness.
Where it become more grotesque is when it comes to the Dalai Lama, China’s bête noire.
Again, according to the Global Times, during an open-door discussion with the Tibetan delegation to the 13th NPC, Wu Yingjie came down heavily on the Tibetan leader: “The Tibetan people have more affection for the government. The Dalai Lama has not done a ‘single good thing’ for Tibet since he left (in 1959).” Wu added that the people of Tibet were “extremely grateful for the prosperity that the Communist Party has brought them”.
Tashi Gyaltsen, a young Tibetan grassroots delegate from Lhoka, affirmed that “there is no such thing” as adoration for the Dalai Lama among Tibetans.
This should be easy to test — let Beijing allow the Tibetan leader to visit Tibet for one week — the adulation of the Tibetans for their spiritual guru and protector will be seen by all.
Go Khok, deputy party chief and mayor of Lhasa, however, asserted that maintaining stability would be a key task for the city government this year.
A worse contradiction is about the position of the atheist regime on the Dalai Lama’s rebirth.
The Tibetan leader jokingly told Reuters: “China considers Dalai Lama’s reincarnation as something very important. They have more concern about the next Dalai Lama than me,” before adding: “In future, in case you see two Dalai Lamas, one from here (India), a free country, (and) one chosen by the Chinese, then nobody will trust, nobody will respect (the one chosen by China). So that’s an additional problem for the Chinese! It’s possible, it can happen.”
A couple of years ago, a Chinese “expert” quoted by the Global Times, affirmed that it is so ridiculous to talk about reincarnation “when the 14th Dalai Lama is still alive.”
It is ridiculous, but Beijing has been working hard since years to put everything in place for when the day comes.
Already in 2007, the stage was set for the tragicomedy when China decided to implement the “Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism”.
Beijing had started preparing for the Lama’s succession: the Chinese government had decided to use the Manchu-favourite type of selection, the Golden Urn lottery, which can easily be manipulated.
Today, China is actively preparing for the post-Dalai Lama period.
On March 7, 2019, a panel discussion took place during the People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing; the Chinese-selected Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu presided. Apart from the young lama considered as “fake” by the Tibetans, a few lamas, mostly unknown to the Tibetans, met to discuss the future of Buddhism; it included, Dupkang Thupten Kedup, vice-chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, Tsemonling, a former regent of Tibet in his previous reincarnation, Gomangtsang Rinpoche, Rinchen Namgyal Rinpoche, from Qinghai province and Lodro Gyatso Rinpoche from Sakya Monastery. China would like these lamas to lead the process to find the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama.
Is it not a contradiction when an atheist regime works hard on soul reincarnation? It does not seem to disturb the apparatchiks in Beijing.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Tibet: When the Gods Spoke

The Dalai Lama on his way to India (November 1956)
This is to introduce the third volume of my study on the relations between India and Tibet (1947-62), undertaken under the Field Marshal KM Cariappa Chair of Excellence of the United Service Institution of India.
It is titled: Tibet: When the Gods Spoke.
It relates to the period 1954-1957.
It ends up with the visit of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama (and Premier Zhou Enlai) to India.
The book will be officially launched on April 18.

Volume 1
Tibet: The Last Months of a Free Nation
The first volume recounted the tragedy that befell Tibet; not only had the Dalai Lama and his people lost their country, which had lived blissfully ignorant of the great revolutions reshaping the rest of the world, but it was a tragedy for India too which lost a peaceful neighbour. Suddenly India had to share a border with Communist China whose ideology was the opposite of Buddhist values. At that time Delhi did not realize it, but when a few years later, India would understand that it had lost a secure border, it would be too late.
Some wiser Indian officials and politicians immediately saw the implications in the change of neighbour, but their views were not heard.
Letters, cables, telegrams and notes accessed by us, showed that two factions emerged during the tumultuous months of November/December 1950: on one side were Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and KM Panikkar, his ambassador in Beijing, both obsessed by an imaginary friendship with New China and fixated on the ‘larger implications for World Peace’; the other side feared the strategic implications for India.
In a way, the fate of Tibet and India’s borders with Tibet was sealed once Sardar Patel, who articulated the dangers of the Chinese invasion for the Indian frontiers, passed away on December 15, 1950; it was hardly two months after the entry of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Eastern Tibet. Nehru’s policy would have disastrous consequences which can still be felt today on the Indian borders, whether in Ladakh or Arunachal Pradesh.

Volume 2
Will Tibet Ever Find Her Soul Again?
In the second volume, we studied the consequences of the signature of the 17-Point Agreement in May 1951; the Tibetan delegates had no alternative but to accept that the “the Tibetan people shall return to the family of the Motherland of the People's Republic of China” and “drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet.”
A two-phase operation was meticulously planned by Mao Zedong; the first part culminated in the Battle of Chamdo which saw the Tibetan forces being decimated; the Great Helmsman’s second step was ‘diplomatic’, the weak Tibetan State was forced to put its thumbprint on an agreement allowing Communist China to take over the Land of Snows.
This period also saw the beginning of the Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai honeymoon between Delhi and Beijing. Over the next months and years, the Indian officials posted on the Roof of the World would discover the true objectives of the Communists; but nobody in Delhi or the Indian Embassy in Beijing was ready to listen.
The second volume went in depth into the slow break-down and deterioration of the age-old Indo-Tibet relations, gradually being replaced by a cruder relation with the new occupiers of Tibet.
It ended with the signature of the so-called Panchsheel Agreement to which the Tibetans were not even invited to participate. India’s long border with Tibet (now China) was wishfully deemed settled in the process.

The Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama in India ((January 1957)
Volume 3
The third volume studies the Chinese consolation on the plateau after having secured the Indian withdrawal from Tibet through the April 1954 Agreement.
Paradoxically or ironically, this period witnessed the first Chinese intrusions in Barahoti, a small flat grazing ground located in today’s Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Though the first two of the Five Principles (Panchsheel) spoke of ‘Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty and Mutual non-aggression’, the Chinese troops walked into the Indian Territory, before the ink on the treaty had hardly dried.
During the period under study, many such intrusions took place in the Central Sector of the Indo-Tibet border, now Sino-Tibet border.
In the next chapters, we look at the diplomatic front, which began with Premier Zhou Enlai’s visit to Delhi in June 1954 and followed by Jawaharlal Nehru’s trip to Beijing in October, to culminate a year later in the Bandung Conference. Hardly any words about Tibet were exchanged during the encounters between Nehru and Zhou; for the Indian and Chinese leaderships, it was a settled issue …except for the border. The Tibetans were nowhere in the picture.
At that time, the Indian Government started noticing some cartographical aggression by Beijing. One chapter goes into the details of Delhi’s handling of the issue and the ‘misunderstanding’ about what Beijing called ‘old maps’.
In Tibet itself, it was time for India to wind-up her presence on the plateau; the negotiations would take many more months than expected, particularly for the dak-bungalows, but early 1955, an agreement would be finally found. A few photos in chapter 6 show the extent to which some of these guest houses were really valuable buildings, but the political decision had been taken to simply hand them over to China. A similar fate awaited the military escorts in Gyantse and Yatung; in a rather discreet manner, it was soon withdrawn. Delhi was probably ashamed to have even a scarce military presence in Tibet.
With the passing months, the consolidation of the Chinese presence in Tibet continued; it translated into the construction of several roads leading to Lhasa …and to the Indian borders. The two main axes (Tibet-Sichuan and Tibet-Qinghai) reached the Tibetan capital in December 1954, this would adversely affect the bilateral trade; suddenly, the PLA no longer needed Indian grain and other commodities.
A few chapters are consecrated to Tibet’s tiny neighbours, Sikkim and Bhutan which were deeply worried about their own future, while watching the development taking place in the North. Delhi had to work out new policies for these States, as well as for her own border areas. The visit of India’s Foreign Secretary RK Nehru to Sikkim, Tibet (Chumbi) Valley) and Bhutan was an important event in this new political context; it is covered in three separate chapters.
The changes in NEFA, particularly in Subansiri and Tawang Frontiers are studied in some detail. The leadership in Delhi did not understand the strategic issues triggered by the occupation of the Tibetan plateau for her borderlands. It translated into, for example, sending the anthropologist Verrier Elwin on a mission to Tawang, which, though interesting in itself, neglected the military and strategic aspects which were systematically overlooked by the Indian State. It would have disastrous consequences a few years later, though intrepid officers such as Maj SM Krishnatry and Capt Sailo clearly described the ‘imperiled’ border of India.
On the other side of the plateau, in Western Tibet, life continued as usual; Indian traders continued to carry their goods from the Himalayan region and while the Chinese presence was still at a minimum, the PLA focused mainly on building new roads. However, the attention of the Communists was brought by the Tibetans, to the borders areas such as Barahoti or Nilang Valley; this would have long-term consequences for India, the Chinese intrusions still today become active every summer.
The visit to China of Kushok Bakula Rinpoche of Ladakh was an important event which unfortunately did not make the Chinese reconsider their policies or make the Indian Government realize that something was going wrong in Tibet.
It was also the time of the first uprisings in Kham province of Eastern Tibet; the revolt was followed by a violent repression by the Chinese Army. Though not directly related to India Tibet relations, we look into this momentous event as well as the creation of the Preparatory Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, which was to bring new ‘reforms’, often unwanted, to the Tibetan ‘masses’.
Incidentally, it is the Tibetan ‘masses’ known as Mimang, the People’s Association, which revolted first against the occupation of their land, while the clergy and many aristocrats accepted the new situation, for their own interests.
In many ways, the Indian government could only be a silent spectator to the happenings triggered by the signature of the two agreements (the 17-Point Agreement with the Tibetan representatives in 1951 and the so-called Panchsheel Agreement signed with India three years later); both legalized the Chinese presence on the plateau.
The four last chapters are consecrated to the visit of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama to India on the occasion of 2500th anniversary of the birth of the Buddha. What is striking is that at no point in time were the Tibetan Lamas involved in the acceptance of the invitations.
At the last minute, after months of reluctance, , Beijing agreed to the visit. It was a risk for Beijing, which knew that many Tibetans were keen that the Dalai Lama should take refuge in India. The Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai visited Delhi thrice in less than three months between November 1956 and January 1957; he wanted to make sure that the Tibetan leader would return to Tibet. In the process, he promised to postpone the Communist ‘reforms’ for a few years.
Eventually, the two Lamas returned to their homeland, to give a ‘last chance’ to the Communists to respect theirpromises. Those final years will be the subject of the last volume of our quadrilogy.
Could India have played a more proactive role? However, for many Indian officials, reforms were necessary and the Chinese presence was not entirely a bad thing for Tibet.
In the process, they forgot to take into account the repercussions of the Chinese occupation of the plateau for the Indian border.
To conclude, an annexure tells us the true story of the Aksai Chin road cutting across the Indian territory in Ladakh.

Maze of half-truths

Emancipation or Massacre?
My article Maze of half-truths appeared in The Edit Page of The Pioneer

Here is the link...

Despite the propaganda that the Tibetans took ‘their destiny in their own hands’ in 1959, Beijing still does not trust local cadres in governance

For the past several weeks, the Chinese propaganda machine has been running full-steam. The focus of the information warfare’s exercise is on the events of March 1959, which ended in a bloodbath in Lhasa, but which is today being promoted as the “Emancipation of the Serfs” and the “Introduction of the Democratic Reforms”  by the communist regime in Beijing. One could ask: Where is democracy in China today?
Just take a look at the list of party secretaries in Tibet — since August 16, 2016, the Communist Party of China’s boss on the Roof of the World is Wu Jingjie. He is the 15th Han to hold the post since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Tibet in 1950. Can you imagine Tamil Nadu having non-Tamil Chief Ministers for more than 60 years or any other Indian State for the matter? The fact is that despite the propaganda that the Tibetans took “their destiny in their own hands” in 1959, Beijing still does not trust the local cadres.
The Serfs’ Emancipation is an even bigger lie. In fact, it was a massacre that saw thousands of ordinary Tibetans losing their lives in Lhasa. We have several genuine accounts of what happened at that time.
From the Chinese sources, it is worth mentioning a Kindle book, The 1959 Tibetan Uprising Documents: The Chinese Army Documents (China Secrets), published last year which provides documents from the PLA’s military intelligence on the bloody events of 1959. Another account of the events is given by Jianglin Li in her book, Tibet in Agony. The preface of the book of the Chinese scholar affirms, “The first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown on Lhasa in 1959. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, she reconstructs a chronology...”
China celebrates March 28 as the Serfs’ Emancipation Day, the day “reforms” could finally be implemented on the Roof of the World; the Tibetan Government had been declared “illegal” by Mao and the so-called Tibetan serfs had been liberated from feudalism and theocracy by PLA guns.
Then, there is the report of the Indian Consul-General in Lhasa (Maj SL Chibber) to the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi. Maj Chibber, an Indian Army officer from the Jat Regiment, had already spent nine years in Tibet. Chhiber, a reliable eye-witness (he even heard a few bullets passing overhead during the uprising), wrote: “In the history of movement for a free Tibet, the month of March 1959 will be most historic as during this month  Tibetans, high and low, in Lhasa, Capital of Tibet, openly challenged the Chinese rule in Tibet. They set up an organisation called the Tibetan Peoples’ Independent Organisation …staged demonstrations to give vent to their anti-Chinese feelings and demanded withdrawal of the Chinese from Tibet. But this challenge, before the might of the Chinese PLA — who on March 20, started an all-out offensive against the ill-organised, ill-equipped, untrained-Tibetans with artillery, mortars, machine guns and all types of automatic weapons — was short-lived.”
He further explained the Dalai Lama’s flight: “Smelling danger, he left Lhasa secretly on the night of March 17, 1959, …for Lhoka area (south of Lhasa), where at that time Khampas had full sway.” The Dalai Lama ultimately took refuge in India on March 31.
Matthew Akester studied the findings of Jianglin Li: “Satisfactory confirmation of detail for this period of Tibet’s history is notoriously difficult due to official secrecy and the virtual non-existence of reliable non-official documentation. The figures assessed, though incomplete, provide crucial indicators of the scale of the PLA’s engagement in Tibet at that time.”
After assessing a larger number of official Chinese documents, Li noted: “Although global estimates remain elusive, the study shows from official figures that something in the order of 10 per cent of the total Tibetan population was involved — killed, wounded and captured — in military operations during these years [1957-59].”
Using reliable Chinese sources, Li calculated that eight Infantry divisions (about 100,000 soldiers), three Air force divisions and two independent regiments were involved. To this should be added three Cavalry divisions and “special units”, ie, chemical warfare, motorcycle and demolition or signals. Also were involved some logistic units such as four truck transportation regiments, engineer corps, field hospitals, Army stations, supply stations and animal hospitals or gas stations. Li estimated that some 1,50,000 military personnel participated in the “emancipation” of a couple of million recalcitrant Tibetans.
Li wrote that besides PLA units, a large number of local militia supported the operation: “The numbers of militia I was able to find in Sichuan, Gansu, Yunnan and Qinghai add up to over 71,000 people.” Civilians were also drafted for various tasks such as transport, evacuation of wounded soldiers, handling pack animals; no less than 143,000 civilian laborers.
The number of casualties was estimated at 10,934 (4,748 dead and 5,223 wounded) on the PLA side, without taking into account Lhasa and Central Tibet (for which figures are unknown). The Tibetan casualties were 2,55,600 for Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan only for the years 1957-59.
In January 1957, while on a visit to India, Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier, had long discussions with the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the introduction of the so-called reforms. Beijing had decided to postpone them by at least for six or seven years. In the course of the conversation, Zhou pointed a finger at non-existing foreigners in Lhasa: “Those bent on trouble are preparing for an incident in Lhasa. These people have some armed forces. Some three temples in Lhasa have also armed forces and they want to create an incident there. If it happened, then there would be bloodshed.”
Although there was no “foreigner” in Lhasa, except for the Indian staff of the Consulate General, but the bloodshed indeed took place in March 1959; it helped Mao to firmly consolidate the position of the Communist regime. In January 1959, Mao and the Central Committee realised that “the PLA had to be used to control the rebellion.” China was facing a revolt of the “serfs.” On January 22, 1959, Mao wrote: “It is good, since there is a possibility for us to solve the [Tibet] problem militarily.” The Chinese are fond of announcing “don’t hurt the Chinese sentiments.” One could ask, what about the Tibetan sentiments? Will the compassionate Dalai Lama ask for an apology for what the Chinese did in Tibet in the 1950s? He should.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Chinamania in Nepal

My article Chinamania in Nepal appeared in Mail Today

News in the social media recently said that some Tibetan Buddhists in Nepal protested “against utterly ridiculous demand from Nepali's China sycophant politicians to ban the use of the khata, the traditional Tibetan white scarf, because it is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.”


New-found Love
Whether true or not, the mantra, ‘hurting the feelings of the Chinese people’ is nowadays prevalent all over the world, but many Nepali politicians are at the vanguard of the movement. Have they seen the picture of President Xi Jinping, offering a khata to the stupa of the previous Panchen Lamas Shigatse during a visit to Tibet in September 2011? Probably not, but sycophancy and a search for facts do not often go together.
This is nevertheless symptomatic of the Chinamania which has seized the former Himalayan kingdom.
While some of the news coming from Kathmandu are comical, others have strategic implications for India.
Take for example, the fact that Nepal has chosen a railway-track gauge used by China, as standard for its network; Kathmandu justifies the choice by the lower Chinese costs. The move is a serious setback for Delhi which has failed to limit Beijing’s control over Nepal.
According to Reuters, last year India proposed to lay a broad-gauge (1,676 mm) rail link from Raxaul, the Indo-Nepal border to Kathmandu; but with China working hard to extend its own railways from Shigatse to the Kyirong land post and then to the Nepali capital, Nepal decided to use the 1,435 mm Chinese standard gauge.
Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth told Reuters that his government will ask India to use the Chinese gauge: “Standard gauge is less expensive,” was the rationale.
Also worrying for India is the fact that the planned extension of the same railway will go to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, near the Indian border; a way to annex Buddhism.
Today, China is everywhere in Nepal. Most of the areas of the Nepali capital and Pokhara have become China towns.
Plans for developing China's ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) infrastructure are progressing full swing. During the 19th century, Nepal exported rice, flour and ghee to Tibet while importing wool and salt; but today, trucks go empty to Kyirong (Jilong for the Chinese) and bring loads of industrial and consumer goods from China. One way-traffic seems to be the BRI norm.
Infrastructure projects are mushrooming, particularly at Rasuwagadhi-Kyirong port (the Tatopani-Zhangmu landport has been more or less abandoned after the earthquake of 2015)
For the Japanese newspaper The Nikkei, “the price is paid in diplomatic support for Beijing: The Nepalese consulate in Lhasa, the only foreign diplomatic mission in the Tibetan capital, recently reiterated unwavering support for Beijing's claims to both Tibet and Taiwan.”
Incidentally, India had a full-fledged mission in Lhasa till 1952 and a Consul-General till 1962; today, Beijing adamantly refuses to reopen it, wanting India to go through Nepal authorities for transborder trade.

The Tibet Pacifier
It is clear to any outside observer that ideologically too, Nepal has to compensate for Chinese largesse by following the line of the Communist Party’s propaganda. Beijing tries to fool the world by publishing a White Paper entitled ‘Democratic Reform in Tibet – Sixty Years On’ and change the historical reality which saw Mao’s troops massacring thousands of ordinary people in March 1959 in order to force the so-called reforms down the Tibetan throats.
But Kathmandu is today ready to follow any Chinese words; an exhibition “Past and Present: Photo Exhibition for the 60th Anniversary of Tibet’s Democratic Reform” was held on March 28 at Nepal College to mark the Serfs’ Emancipation Day; on that day, the Dalai Lama’s government was dissolved and replaced by a set of hard core People’s Liberation Army’s generals.
The 160-photos exhibition was hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Nepal (Beijing has recently posted a very pretty lady diplomat as ambassador, making it more difficult for the Nepalis to resist Chinese ‘offers’) and the China Association for Preservation & Development of Tibetan Culture.
A Chinese communiqué said that people “from all walks of life in Nepal, Tibetans living in Nepal, and representatives of Chinese institutions came and viewed the exhibition.”

The Chinese Stupa
Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Nepal’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, asserted that the exhibition “was rich in content and that they could understand the development of Tibet’s political, economic, cultural, and religious fields from it.” He stated: “Nepal is willing to strengthen cooperation and exchange with various provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions in China, including the TAR, under the framework of the BRI.”
India seems to have lost a neutral neighbour, master of its own affairs.
Even the borders of Nepal are looked after by Beijing. According to The Kathmandu Post, Kathmandu has permitted the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) to provide development assistance in 15 northern districts of Nepal “to meet their developmental needs”; these districts share a common border with Tibet. The agency was setup in August 2018 in order to strengthen “the strategic planning and overall coordination of the Chinese aid to Nepal.”
One unsaid objective is to stop Tibetans fleeing their native land and taking refuge in India. It has been remarkably efficient.
On March 30, a CIDCA team visited Kathmandu and held talks with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli; a proposal was made to further support Nepal’s border districts.
A small telling example of the prevalent Chinamania; in the 1970s, a Shanti Stupa was built by Nichidatsu Fujii, a Buddhist monk from Japan and founder of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji Buddhist sect; it was to be a symbol of peace on the top of the Anadu Hill, near the tourist town of Pokhara. Now the locals call the monument ‘the Chinese Stupa’, probably to please the Mainland tourists flocking the place.
One can only hope that it is a temporary phase.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Tibetans in Metok: 'good' guys, 'bad' guys?

Offering khatas to the Premier
China Global Television Network (CGTN) recently gave some insights on China's borders: “China has the longest land border in the world totaling more than 22,000 kilometers. Many of the border towns are diverse and share both Chinese and foreign characteristics.”



Chinese Characteristics in Tibet
The State TV mentioned Metok, “a border county of the Nyingchi City in southeast Tibet, sitting close to India. Due to its complex geographic and weather condition, Metok County is a paradise for adventure seekers.”
Metok is located a few kilometers, north of the Indian border (Tuting Circle of Siang District of Arunachal Pradesh); it is where the Yarlung Tsangpo enters India to become the Siang; it will be known as the Brahmaputra in Assam.
The Chinese TV continues: “Tourists would be amazed by the ecological environment in Metok County as it ranks first among all counties in China in terms of forest coverage, with a forest coverage rate of over 79.2 percent. Metok also boasts as many as 500 waterfalls with the famous ones include the U-shaped Waterfall, the Hanmi Waterfall and the Tiger`s Mouth Waterfall.”
Chinese tourists are strongly recommended to trek to the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon and Mount Namjagbarwa, ‘the father of glaciers’

China's Last County without Highway
Terming Metok as China's last county without a highway, the TV channel explains: “Local people used to deliver supplies only by manpower. The terrible weather conditions like snow and rainstorm have made the construction of mountain roads extremely difficult.”
The following description makes this border area sounds paradisiacal.

The New Tunnel bringing Prosperity
Three days after the first news item (on March 3),  Metok, the ‘hidden lotus’ (Metok simply means 'flower' in Tibetan), China Tibet News reminds its readers that on October 31, 2013, Metok Highway was opened: “The highway has not only promoted the communication between Metok and the outside, but also enhanced local economic growth.”
The official website argues: “With the access to highway, the local economy developed rapidly and villagers experienced tremendous improvement. Most Metok's farmers and herdsmen living outside wanted to move back to hometown and take part in promoting their hometown's economic development.”
That sounds good.

Relocated villagers
Relocation Scheme
The government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) implemented “a moving back project involving 68 households, of which 65 were registered impoverished. People who planned to move back could work for the construction of relocation sites, which also expanded their employment channel. Besides, covering an area of 360 mu (24 hectares), tea plantation in relocation site would benefit 99 households, with an increase of 16,000 yuan RMB (US $ 250) in per capita income,” said the official website.
In other words, a new Xiaogang village, a scheme often mentioned on this blog.
Since April 2018, some 329 farmers and herdsmen had alreday moved into new houses: "With the improvement of economy and society, agriculture and animal husbandry industry have been developing rapidly in Metok County. Life has been getting better and better," said China Tibet News.
That’s good!
But…

Li Keqian on The Roof of the World
Remember, Premier Li Keqiang made an ‘inspection tour’ in Tibet, at the end of July last year. China Tibet Online reported that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Southern Tibet on July 25.
Li went directly to Nyingchi (Nyingtri) Prefecture/City, bordering Arunachal Pradesh. He visited a village (Shiga village) in Mailing County of Nyingchi City; it is a new village inhabited by Monpas. According to the press release, the inhabitants of this ‘Monpa’ village have been recently relocated from 'impoverished areas'. The ‘impoverished’ region is Metok.
You must be lost by now.
One scheme to relocate poor Monpas to another Prefecture/City and another to bring ‘Monpas’ to a 'booming' Metok County!!
It does not sound logic.
In the 'relocated' village, the Premier went to the new house of a Tibetan named Kunsang.
The new house obviously look good.
Li Keqiang sat with the ‘migrant’ family and talked to the six members of the household about their daily life.
He asked: What is the main source of income? How much could you make in a year? What about your health care and children’s education? What kind of difficulties do you still have now?
The Premier Li listened patiently to the answers of the villagers.
One Kunsang said that his family moved from Metok County, where “road travel is fairly difficult”.
Is it not surprising, considering that the TAR government is relocating people there to alleviate their poverty?
Where is the logic?
'Relocation' with Chinese characteristics?
Why to move people to a nearby County, if the situation has improved so much there that this particular place promotes 'return' of the villagers?
Why are some villagers taking away from Metok?
According to the official media, Kunsang told the Premier that his family has now an income of 150,000 yuan a year (US $ 2,400), thanks to farming and tourism. Further, the State “ensured health care service and children’s education program.” A total of 72 households is said to have shifted to the new village and 90% of families have similar income.
Li was said to have been really pleased “to see that the villagers have cast off poverty, through the relocation program and lived a prosperous life.”
The Premier wished the family an even more prosperous life in the future.

Another reason behind the relocation?
‘Poverty alleviation’ might not be the only reason; in a autocratic State, there is always the possibility of sieving the ‘bad’ guys and the ‘good’ guys.
The ‘bad’ ones are sent in safer places, further away from the border, while the ‘good’ ones are made the ‘The guardians of the sacred land and the builders of happy homes’.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

China, Tibet, Great Game

My book Will Tibet Ever Find Her Soul Again? has been reviewed by Thubten Samphel for The
Hindustan Times


Here is the link...

Claude Arpi’s new book is particularly relevant as China rolls out the Belt and Road Initiative

The brilliance of new China’s leaders in pursuing their hard-nosed strategic objectives in Tibet was to weave a plausible narrative of ‘liberation’ around what was an outright invasion of the country. The other twist in the narrative was to force Lhasa to sign the 17-Point Agreement in 1951 in which Tibet promised to “return voluntarily to the lap of the motherland.” Half the world, largely the socialist camp, bought China’s story on Tibet.
The process of dealing with China’s fait accompli on the Roof of the World was particularly painful in the corridors of power in New Delhi. Should close cultural, commercial bonds and an open, unguarded border between India and Tibet blindside New Delhi to the changed new geopolitical reality in which the balance of power between independent India and new China had shifted in Beijing’s favour?
In dealing with the issue of Tibet, the two Asian giants brought two different mindsets. India had hoped, as articulated by Nehru, de-colonizing Asia and Africa would come together as one big family to work for common prosperity and peace. China on the other hand was there for itself, in whatever form that enduring Chinese imperial impulse was dressed up in the reigning ideology of the day.
The clash of views of men on the ground who figured out China’s true intentions in Tibet and beyond and those who took Beijing’s comforting words at their face value are put together in Will Tibet Ever Find Her Soul Again? The value of Claude Arpi’s contribution to scholarship on the subject is that it is based on the Nehru papers housed in the Nehru Memorial Library and Museum and the National Archives of India. “It is the first time such documents have been used (or even seen),” says Arpi.
At the time these events unfolded in Tibet, New Delhi’s man in Lhasa was Sumul Sinha. In his briefing to New Delhi about Chinese intentions, he wrote: “It seems to me that we are not facing fairly and squarely the realities of the situation here, inclined as we are to gloss over Chinese dislike and distrust for insignificant aliens like us, for no better reason than to keep Delhi in good humour and to keep alive the illusions of our policy-makers who still believe that much maligned Chinese are just as good today as they were in the past.”
In his briefing note to Major SM Krishnatry, the Indian Trade Agent in Gyantse, Sinha was brutally honest. He accused the People’s Liberation Army of doing a Robert Clive act on Tibet. “I hardly think that Chinese officials in Tibet can help being adventurous nor do I blame them for dreaming of conquest far beyond the confines of Tibet. They are physically placed at the outskirt of an empire and has happened in so much of history, think and behave like modern Clives and Hastings, always anxious to out-do their own achievements.”
The critique to this assessment came from Nehru himself. In 1953, India’s first prime minister wrote that Sinha “looks with certain nostalgia to the past when the British exercised a good deal of control over Tibet and he would like India to take the place of the British of those days. As a matter of fact, the weakness of our position in Tibet has been that we are successors, to some extent, of an imperial power which has pushed its way into Tibet. When that imperial power has ceased to have any strength to function in the old way, it is patent that we cannot do so, even if we so wished.”
In this Great Game played out between independent India and re-united China, Arpi’s ability to piece together all the confidential memos and exchange of notes in high places serve as a fly on the wall. His contribution on the subject will serve as a guide for new players not to repeat the mistakes of the past. With China rolling out the almost globe-girdling Belt and Road Initiative to improve sea and land connectivity to purportedly facilitate international trade but also to assert its political influence on the countries strung along the new Silk Road, the Great Game is being played with new vigour. Arpi’s contribution constitutes a playbook for the participants in the new Great Game, now re-branded and re-sold as the Belt and Road Initiative.