Wednesday, March 3, 2021

How the Tibetans were emancipated ...by the guns

Sixty one years ago...

I am reposting this very special document: the Report for the months of March, April and May 1959 sent by the Indian Consul General in Lhasa (Maj SL Chibber) to the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi.
This Top Secret document is dated June 1, 1959.
Maj Chibber, an Indian Army officer from the Jat Regiment had already spent nine years in Tibet.
He came first to Tibet in 1950 to replace Maj SM Krishnatry, the Officer Commanding the Indian Escort in Gyantse (Krishnatry was from the Maratha Light Infantry Regiment).
After his tenure in Gyanste with the Escort, Maj Chibber served on deputation as Indian Trade Agent in Yatung and Gyantse. He took over as Consul General in Lhasa from PN Menon (father of former Foreign Secretary and National Secretary Advisor, Shivashankar Menon) in February 1957, when the Dalai Lama returned from his trip in India.
In September 1959, he was transferred as First Secretary to the Political Officer's Office in Gangtok (he would later be integrated into the Indian Foreign Service).

Different accounts
India's views on the dramatic events of March/April 1959 never appeared before.
It is worth mentioning that a Kindle book The 1959 Tibetan Uprising Documents - The Chinese Army Documents published early this year provided some documents from the Military Intelligence of the People's Liberation Army on the 1959 bloody events.
This publication provides several maps of the battle of Lhasa; it complements Maj Chibber's narration.
Another account of the events is given by Jianglin Li in her Tibet in Agony, "the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa in 1959. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, she reconstructs a chronology...", says the preface of her book.
Incidentally, since 2009, China celebrates March 28 as the Serfs Emancipation Day.
It is an yearly holiday in the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is supposed to be the day that the 'reforms' could finally be implemented on the Roof of the World. On March 28, 1959 the Tibetan government had been declared 'illegal' by the People's Republic of  China and the so-called serves had been liberated Tibetans from feudalism and theocracy ...by the guns.
But as described by Maj Chibber, it is clear that the uprising of March 1959 was the revolt of the 'masses' against the occupiers.
Maj Chibber's conclusions are worth noting: "The future of Tibet is dark and only a miracle can save Tibet from the clutches of the Chinese Communist Colonialists."

My website contains a large collection of documents relating  to the March 1959 Uprising.
Click here to consult
Volume 48 of the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru dealing with this event is also downloadable

Report for the months of March, April and May 1959 from the Consul General of India in Lhasa, Tibet

GENERAL
In the history of movement for 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 – ‘Pho Mimang Ranchen Chi Chog’, meaning, ‘Tibetan Peoples Independent Organisation’, renounced the Sino-Tibetan Agreement of 1951, 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 CHINESE People’s Liberation Army, who on 20th March, 1959, started an all out offensive against the ill-organised, ill-equipped, untrained-Tibetans with artillery, mortors, machine guns and all types of automatic weapons, was short lived.
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. Many other important and un-important-Tibetans followed him when the actual trouble started on the night of 19th March, 1959.
On the 28th March, 1959, the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China dissolved the local Tibet Government and transferred all its functions and powers to the Preparatory Committee for the Tibetan Autonomous Region, - which was set up by the Chinese on 22nd April, 1956, but due to various reasons was not functioning as desired by the Chinese, with Panchen Lama as its Acting Chairman, stating that Panchen Lama would act for the period the Dalai Lama was held in duress. Ngapho Shape [Ngabo Ngawang Jigme] and Phak-pa La [Phagpala Rinpoche] of Chamdo, a young incarnate Lama of Chamdo studying at Sera, were promoted as Vice Chairmen from their former positions of member of Standing Committee and Secretary General and member of Standing Committee respectively. Eighteen Tibetan members of the Committee who were labeled-traitors by the Chinese were dismissed and replaced by five Chinese and eleven Tibetans. The State Council also ordered the People’s Liberation Army stationed in Tibet to assume Military Control in Tibet except Shigatse, the seat of Panchen Lama. The Military Control commission in Lhasa was formally established on 23rd March, 1959.
During these months the Chinese with the help of their armed forces including air-force quelled the main Resistance Force in Lhoka area, carried out thorough – screening of Inhabitants in and around Lhasa, detained hordes of Tibetans and others on-slightest suspicion, impounded all the private vehicles except for a few belonging to pro-Chinese Tibetans but they were also not allowed to ply and thus made travel outside Lhasa impossible (their own Transport Department’s passenger service between Yatung/Shigatse/Gyantse and Lhasa was stopped many months before), promulgated dusk to dawn curfew, organized meetings and – rallies to condemn the former Tibetan Government and Imperialists, blamed Indians as expansionist and for interfering in the internal affairs of Tibet and rapidly installed Military Control Commissions in other places in Tibet. The preparatory Committee held two meetings after its reorganization, one under Chairmanship of the Panchen Lama and the other under General Chang Kuo-hua [Zhang Guohua] in absence of the Panchen Lama who had gone to Peking to attend the Second National People’s Congress Session there, and passed few resolutions.
In brief the booms of Chinese guns and fire from their weapons, which destroyed number of buildings including religious places, large scale killing of Tibetans followed by mass arrests, departure of Dalai Lama and high-ranking Tibetan officials from Lhasa completely shattered the morale of Tibetans in general and they were left with no other alternative but to bow before the Chinese.

Norbulinka Palce: in blue the Tibetan defences, in red the Chinese PLA movements
Tibet-China
The nationalist movement in Tibet, the climax of which reached on 10th March, 1959, had started sometime in 1955 in Kham, Eastern Tibet and then spread to west in Amdo region and north-east in Golok areas. In 1955 and 1957 it took shape of an open revolt against the Chinese regime in these areas. These people though did not succeed but they were a constant headache to the Chinese who had to resort to aerial bombing and deploy large number of forces to subjugate the local inhabitants. During operations number of monasteries were destroyed and the local people suffered heavy losses. Due to absence of proper means of communication and security measured adopted by Chinese to suppress the information the correct news of happenings in these areas-seldom reached out-side world. However, whatever little news trickled through traders and travelers contained horrible accounts of atrocities committed by the Chinese against the people of these areas, especially against the lamaseries. This naturally had an effect on the minds of Tibetans elsewhere and a stage had reached that some among these Tibetans who had thrown their lot with the Chinese previously, many became apprehensive and doubted Chinese promises of respect for religion and internal autonomy. The Khampas in east finding difficult to face the frontal attack of the Chinese troops resorted to guerilla tactics and moved towards the south where the Chinese garrisons were few and far between and the difficult terrain suited to hit and run type of war.
They were able to disrupt completely traffic on Sikang [Kham]-Tibet highway and managed to have a complete control of area called Lhoka (south of Tsangpo river) and some areas in north-east-of the river. In May, 1958, and later they were joined by Khampas and their kinds from Lhasa and elsewhere also. Number of monks from various monasteries, some Tibetan soldiers and other Tibetans also joined them. They were successful in their attacks on some convoys on Lhasa Shigatse road and Tsinghai Tibet highway.
There were also reports of air-drop of arms and ammunitions to these people in Lhoka area by unidentified planes. All the time the Chinese did not take any action against these Khampa, except on one or two occasions but pressed the Tibetan Government to suppress them. The Tibetan Government under pressure from Chinese sent Peace Missions comprising of monks and Iay officials to Kham and Lhoka areas but no useful purpose was served. – The Mission which went to Lhoka stayed on and never returned. It was said that the members of the Mission had joined the Khampas.
As a number of officials in the Tibetan Government did not like the presence of Chinese in Tibet no concrete stops were taken by the Tibetan Government and in all probabilities encouraged the movement secretly. All these encouraged the people in Lhasa, especially the intelligentsia and they thought it was high time for a general uprising. The Chinese did not sit quiet and were not blind to what was happening and were not taking chances by leaving thing to the Tibetan Government. They started preparing themselves for the show down; fortified their offices and residences with sand bags, dug trenches and prepared fire positions, all cadres were issued arms and ammunition and made to join militia under the pretext that these militia units were similar to those of China proper, stored rations and due wells on their promises and increased the strength of their troops considerably in and around Lhasa. The relations had been strained since a long time and at the close of the year 1958, the question was as to how and who should break the ice.
In January, 1959, General Tan Kwan San [Tan Guansan], Political Commissar, openly condemned Surkhang Shape, the senior most Cabinet Minister of the Tibetan Government, in a meeting of Chinese and Tibetans convened for congratulating Soviet Russia for their success on launching space rocket, for not taking any interest in the things Chinese were doing and threatened that if he (Surkhang) did not mend his ways he would be reduced to a labourer and if he still did not improve he would be done away with. This probably had a very serious affect on minds of the Tibetans who thought that if their highest official could be treated that way then there was no chance of survival for any one else. The anti-Chinese feeling among the Tibetans which had already mounted high further increased and the previous whisper campaign against the Chinese started tuning into open words and action.
During Monlam [Prayer Festival], the great prayer, 20,000 to 30,000 monks gather in Lhasa. Similarly large number of lay people of all classes from other parts of Tibet, including Kham, Golok and Amdo areas, come to Lhasa for pilgrimage and blessings of the Dalai Lama. Since 1954 this occasion was being utilized by the Tibetan nationalists for their anti-Chinese campaigns and exhorting people to rise against the Chinese. On two occasions anti-Chinese leaflets were thrown in Lhasa market square secretly and similarly hand written posters, containing Chinese anti-religious activities and atrocities committed by them, were displayed in the streets of Lhasa number of times.
The monks and other people who came from all over Tibet carried back these news and thus the anti-Chinese feelings among the masses were further intensified. Each Monlam after 1954 saw more and more of anti-Chinese feelings among the Tibetans. The incidents in which Tibetan and Chinese were involved and when the latter sided with their men aggravated hatred among the Tibetans against the Chinese.
In April, 1957, an armed Chinese who wanted to enter private apartment of Dalai Lama in Potala was arrested by the Tibetan soldiers on suspicion that he wanted to take life of the Dalai Lama and was sent by the Tashilhunpo authorities with the connivance of the Chinese. This naturally created wide spread resentment among the Tibetans, specially when the Chinese did not take any action against this man (he was simply returned to China).
During Monlam of 1959 two armed Chinese were arrested by the Tibetan soldiers during the Dalai Lama’s procession from Potala to main cathedral and the Tibetans charged those people with the same offence i.e. they had intention to kill the Dalai Lama and were agents of Tashilhunpo acting kill the Dalai Lama and were agents of Tashilhunpo acting under the direction of the Chinese. Under the pressure of the Chinese authorities the Tibetan Government handed over these people to them who after short while released them.
During Monlam, the Chinese took extra security measures. They distributed cash and their propaganda literature among the monks to gain their favour but in vain. By Monlam of 1959, the anti-Chinese sore only needed a pin prick to erupt it. The invitation to Dalai Lama by the Military Area Command to a Theatrical performance on the 10th March, 1959, provided an excuse to the nationalists to start their campaign openly in Lhasa against the Chinese.
The invitation, as far as we understand, was known only to a few top ranking Tibetan officials close to Dalai Lama. It seems that on the evening of 9th March and in the morning of 10th March Interested officials who know about the invitation quietly sent words to people in Lhasa asking them to come to Norbulingka to stop Dalai Lama from going to Chinese Military Headquarters as it was suspected that the Chinese might detain him and persuade him to go to Peking.
In the beginning, on the morning of 10th March, only few people came to Norbulingka but later when messages were sent from the office of the Sho Magistrate and the news got more currency men, women and children in large number started streaming towards Norbulingka. By about 10 A.M. about 15,000/20,000 people had assembled outside the summer palace.
Such a gathering of the public probably for the first time for a political issue in the history of Tibet after arrival of Communist Chinese. It is very difficult to say whether the danger envisaged by the Tibetan officials was real or they just used this excuse to stir up the minds of the public against the Chinese and thus start a mass movement against them.
The feelings, however, were running very high against the Chinese and the public was restless and any excuse would have served to mobilize them. Sawang Samdup Photrang, Cabinet Minister of Local Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Tibetan Army who was proceeding towards Norbulingka was stoned by the mob.


The battle around the Chakpori Hill
Another victim was Phak-Pa Khanchung Sonam Gyatso (brother of Chamdo Phak-Pa La Rimpoche), who was shot dead and his body was taken round the streets of Lhasa in most humiliating manner. We understand that the mob mistook Sawang Samdup Photrang as Sawang Ngapho who is an out and out pro-Chinese and hated by Tibetans.
In the meantime the wishes of the public were passed on to Dalai Lama who through Sawang Surkhang and Kalon Lama Luishar assured the public over the loud-speakers that he would not go to the party. The mob had also by this time formed a Committee representing all classes including Tibetan Army, monasteries and officialdom. This Committee decided to declare Tibet as independent from 10th March, 1959, denounced the Sino-Tibetan Agreement of 1951, and to request Dalai Lama not to go to any function of the Chinese including the meetings of the Preparatory Committee.
Tibetan officials, lay and monk, present in Lhasa except for a few pre-Chinese, started going towards Norbulingka to attend meetings there. In the above mentioned Committee it was also decided that a deputation representing all sections of Tibetans should call on Foreign Representatives and other foreigners in Lhasa viz. Consul General for India, Consul General for Nepal, Bhutan Agent and the Kashmiri Muslims, to apprise them of the situation and the decisions taken. Accordingly they visited us first.
Realising that it might create misunderstanding with the Chinese, in the first instance we snowed our disinclination to meet them as it was their internal matter. On their instance, however, the Consul-General met them but offered no comments. Later the deputation visited the Consul General for Nepal, Bhutan Agent and the Kashmiri Muslims. The situation was fast deteriorating and people fearing danger to the life of Dalai Lama assumed the responsibility of guarding Norbulingka with whatever arms and ammunition they had. On the assurance given by the Dalai Lama that he would not go to the party the public gathered outside Norbulingka formed a procession and went round the streets of Lhasa shouting anti-Chinese slogans and declaring themselves as independent.
The things started happening quickly from 11th March onward the Tibetan officials (both lay and monk) held series of meetings, the Tibetans destroyed the bridge on Chinghai Tibet highway on north of Potala, destroyed Water Controlling Station on Kyi-chu-river on south of Norbulingka, Tibetan troops were posted at strategic points and in the outlying parks around Norbulingka, the Tibetan guards of the Kusung Regiment discarded their Chinese dress and put on Tibetan-dress, voluntary armed guards from the public also joined the Tibetan soldiers in Norbulingka for doing the guard duties round the clock, the Tibetan employees of the Chinese and students of the Chinese schools were asked to abandon their jobs and to leave schools.
As a result the Chinese schools closed and majority of the Tibetan employees with Chinese left their jobs. Pro-Chinese officials (very few in number) and the Tibetan employees who did not leave their jobs, with their families were asked by the Chinese to move to the Chinese Military Headquarters or other areas which were fully guarded by Chinese soldiers. The meetings which were being hold in Norbulingka by Tibetan officials were also attended by the Representatives of the committee. What actually transpired in those meetings is difficult to say but we understand that they mostly discussed how to approach the Chinese and as far as possible to have peaceful negotiations but use of force if necessity arose was also agreed upon.
Since all the Shapes and other high ranking Tibetan officials were attending those meetings it became evident that Tibetan Government had now openly challenged the Chinese rule and were supporting the people’s movement. It is quite likely that in these meetings it was visualized that peaceful negotiations with the Chinese might not be possible as the latter would never agree to their demand of free Tibet and withdrawal of Chinese from Tibet and for that the Tibetans thought it essential to prepare themselves for an armed retaliation.



The battle for the Ramoche temple
A call for volunteers was made and the Tibetan Government started issuing arms and ammunitions to the volunteers and also supplemented the weapons and ammunitions of the Tibetan troops.
Nearly 10 thousand monks from various monasteries in an around Lhasa and lay people from the town volunteered, themselves. There was a report at that time that the villagers around Lhasa also volunteered to fight for the cause of freedom and life of Dalai Lama. Regular public meetings were held in the town and at Sho, below Potala, where young and old of both sexes took oath to fight against the Chinese and offer one person from each house.
A Women’s procession was also organized and about 5,000 women visited this Consulate and requested that we should accompany them to the Chinese to witness their talks. We politely refused to accede to their request. Similarly they requested Consul General for Nepal, Bhutan Agent and other foreigners in Lhasa. But none of them agreed to accompany them.
So far the Chinese had not taken any action even though there was provocation on one or two occasions. They, however, ordered their personnel to remain within their barracks and they tried to persuade the public through loud-speakers not to be misled by bad elements. Tibetan officials and Shapes (Surkhang, Shasur and Liushar) were severely criticized and blamed for the trouble. The non-interference attitude of Chinese was puzzling the Tibetans. We feel that the Chinese were preparing themselves and waiting for reinforcements and probably also for orders from Peking. It may be stated here that the Chinese had already enough troops in Lhasa but they were very young and inexperienced. The Chinese probably also wanted additional troops to crush the uprising not only in Lhasa but all over Tibet.
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.
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.
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.
On the 17th March there was rumour that some Khampas had come to Liu Dzong about 6 to 8 miles from Lhasa on the south bank of Kyichu river on the way to Lhoka area. These Khampas probably came to escort the Dalai Lama and party upto Lhoka, from this it appears that the Plan was made earlier. The other reason could be that the Tibetans had a mind to attack Chinese positions and before that they wanted Dalai Lama to be away to a safe area. At that time Lhoka area was safest. They must have also thought that if situation worsened they would be able to take Dalai Lama to India from there easily (the actual events prove this).
The situation continued to be very tense on 18th and 19th March. All sorts of rumours were afloat, such as that Chinese had announced that they would finish Lhasa in one hour and they were only waiting for an opportune moment. There was also a report that Chinese had thrown stones on the Women’s procession on the morning of 19th March and injured few of them.
On the night of 19th March we went to bed as usual but the inner feelings were, after seeing the feverish activities of the Tibetans during the past two days, that the hour of danger was not far off. To avoid any confusion in the event of any trouble, I had issued clear instructions a couple of days earlier to all the members of staff to shut immediately to the main Consulate building when the we had started keeping our dresses handy during night so that when there was any danger we could immediately dress up and take shelter on the ground floor. When we heard bursts of fire from the automatic weapons at 01:50 hours local time on 20th March, it was not a surprise to us. From my bed-room window I saw continuous flash coming from a light machine gun which was firing from a position on the bund along the Kyi-chu river about 8 to 9 hundred yards away; from our observations during day we knew that the Tibetans were occupying all area on South of our Consulate upto bank of Kyi-chu river and as such the gun firing must be of Tibetans.
The fire from all types of weapons including heavy guns could be heard from all sides. It is very difficult to say as to who fired the first shot but as the firing started from Norbulingka side (this is also stated by one Shan Chao in his diary published in Peking Review dated May 5, 1959) it seems that the Chinese had sent some troops on the other side of the river with intention either to surround Norbulingka or reconnoitre the position of Tibetans who on seeing the Chinese troops started firing.
If the Tibetans were to start they would not start firing in their own area without the presence of Chinese and should in normal course had gone forward and started the battle where the Chinese were holding the ground. The intense firing continued for over an hour. At about 6 AM. some Tibetans came to the Consulate and among them I recognized Khenchung Thupten Zangpo and a junior monk official of Kundeling Monastery. Khenchung Thupten requested for our intervention saying that it would be disastrous for Tibetans if the fighting continued. He also mentioned that uptil then they had an upper-hand in the fighting. We regretted our inability to do anything and simply told him that we would inform Government of India about the situation. We thought the things had quietened down but suddenly at 8 A.M. the firing of mortors and heavy guns resumed and this time it was more intensive than earlier.
Since it was coming from Lhasa side, it was evident that the Chinese had now launched an whole sale attack on the Tibetans. Artillery from both sides was in action and the targets were not far from our area. The Chinese artillery was aiming at Tibetan’s gun position on the south hill of Chakpuri [Chakpori] and Kundeling Monastery. We could also see that the Tibetan heavy gun was also firing from its position on the south hill of Chakpuri towards Chinese Military Headquarters.
The volume of the fire was increasing every moment. In the meantime I had spoken to the Political Officer in Sikkim on the radio telephone and from the wireless station I could see the shells bursting on east of our area, about 100 years from where I was speaking. Seeing the danger I ordered the wireless operator to shift to the main building where I had already kept a spare set for emergency purposes but due to some technical difficulties we could not open our set that day. By 11 A.M. local time we noticed that Tibetan heavy gun had stopped firing, probably its ammunition stock had exhausted and Tibetans on Chakpuri hill started retreating towards Norbulingka. Soon after the Chinese occupied the Chakpuri and its side hills.
Booms of the guns and fire from automatics could be heard from north and south-side indicating that the battle was in full swing. From Chakpuri Chinese started firing from their machine guns towards Norbulingka and bullets were hitting parks south of our area, our area and parks after Kundeling Dzasa’s house. Some bullets also hit the Consulate building and a Tibetan water carrier who happened to come out of her quarter for naturals call was hit in the chest – she died after two days. Now the Chinese artillery and armoured cars started moving towards Norbulingka both on south as well as on the north side of our area.
At about 2 P.M. local time the Chinese artillery started shelling Norbulingka and in the meantime their troops covered by armoured cars moved along slowly. The Tibetans in the parks south of our area were still putting up resistance and only after Chinese had intensified their fire that they retreated and the Chinese were able to proceed beyond our area by about 4 P.M. During the day many Tibetans withdrew to our area with their bag and baggages and requested us for shelter but as they were armed and the situation was such that had we given them shelter we might have very well became the target of the Chinese guns and as such we persuaded them to leave our area. They, however, left behind their cycles, beddings, rations etc.
The Chinese troops entered our area at about 4:30 P.M. and according to our men the Chinese fixed their guns to fire at the main building but on seeing the Indian national flag withdraw and proceeded towards Kundeling Dzasa’s house. On their way they fired at the residential quarters of our staff and the hospital. The firing was deliberate and aimed and it was only sheer luck that the inmates escaped unhurt. From the Chinese soldiers actions of not firing at the main building prove that they had instructions not to fire at the Consulate and their action of firing at the residences was probably due to their ignorance of the extent of our area and took these Houses as belonging to Kundeling Dzasa.
Bullets from the Chinese machine guns passed through our area from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. and about 60 of them including the aimed ones had hit the Consulate buildings and later we picked up over 100 sharpenels from the Consulate garden and from the immediate vicinity and roof of the main building where we all except for few members of staff who due to intense firing could not shift were taking shelter.
By about 5:30 P.M. we noticed green very light signals fired from Norbulingka side indicating that they had complete control over these areas and the firing ceased. Later we saw heavy vehicles running on the south of our area. They were clearing their own casualties and this carried on till midnight. Though it was quiet around our area but the fire from heavy guns and automatic guns could be heard from north and east sides.
We could not know exactly what was happening in Lhasa and elsewhere but we could hear the fire of heavy guns and automatic weapons throughout the night of 21/22 March and this went on till 23rd March. Large number of Tibetans was taken prisoners – nearly 5,000 – and about 2 to 3 thousand killed or wounded. For continuous three to four days we noticed smoke coming from the Norbulingka side, probably the Chinese were burning the dead bodies. It is not possible for us to estimate the number of casualties on the Chinese side but they seemed to be heavy.
On the 21st March afternoon, Vice Director of Foreign-Bureau came in an armoured car from south side (this is not the normal route to our area) and from this it seemed that the Chinese had not yet been able to clear completely the Lhasa Norbulingka road on our north. He besides telling us that who local Government had revolted and it was an internal matter and no force on earth could take Tibet from China, asked us to shift to Foreign Bureau on grounds of safety.
We told him that we would prefer to stay on our own premises and if necessary they could arrange protection here itself. He also told that where their troops were stationed they would afford protection to the foreign nationals but where there were none he advised that they should withdraw. He wanted me to ask my nationals to strictly abide by the orders of their Government and stay indoors where the rebellious elements were active.
On the 22nd March about midday one Chinese Military Officer along with few soldiers came and informed us that he would be posting guards around our area. Few Tibetans who had managed to stay in the servants quarters surrendered to him. The Chinese officer requested that he would like to see the servants quarters to make sure that no bad element was hiding there to which we agreed. We were completely cut off from out-side as guards would not allow any one to come in or go out of our area. They would not even allow our water carriers to go out to fetch drinking water.
On the 25th March I was called to Foreign Bureau, travelling in their car, and told that as the rebellion had been put down basically there was no need for us to shift to Foreign Bureau. During my trip to Foreign Bureau and back I noticed that a considerable damage had been done to the Kundeling Monastery, some damage to Medical College at Chakpuri Monastery, Potala was hit at 7 to 8 places and the Sho village had received a considerable quantity of fire from automatic weapons as we could see that white wash of nearly all the houses had come off completely.
At the Foreign Bureau I noticed and was also told that Tibetans had done quite a lot of damage to their buildings from the artillery fire from Ramoche monastery. On the same day one of our nationals, Miss Sahabir along with her sister-in-law, managed to come to our area and from her we learnt that the Chinese had destroyed some portions of the main cathedral, shelled houses of Tibetan officials, took prisoners and the people were made to surrender through threats that the main cathedral would be completely destroyed. In the mean time Chinese had set up a Military Control Commission started taking census in and around Lhasa.
Strict restrictions were imposed on the movements of people and no one was allowed to leave Lhasa. A dusk to dawn curfew was also promulgated. Soon after the situation in Lhasa was in hand they sent their troops towards Lhoka and according to Chinese they took complete control of that area by about 18th April. From whatever we could see it area by about 18th April.
From whatever we could see it appears that they deployed a large force and with the help of air-force suppressed the Tibetans in the Lhoka area. In Lhasa the Chinese arrested practically all the Tibetan officials and number of other Tibetans, especially traders and intelligentsia on slightest suspicion and they are still hold under detention. Since no proper system of justice exists there is no question of any appeal. Anyone arrested is doomed for months together whether he is guilty or not. During the period of detention one is made to do manual work.
The Chinese confiscated millions of rupees worth of property of the Tibetan officials who either left for India or took part in the rebellion and also of those monasteries from where operations against them were carried out. The confiscated Tsampa (barley atta) was distributed by the Chinese among the beggars and destitutes and to this they gave much publicity to show that they were kind. Repairs to main-Cathedral and Norbulingka was started in order to show that they had respect for the religious places.
Blame for all these happenings has been thrown on bad elements. Simultaneously they started their propaganda campaign against the Tibetan officials, imperialists and reactionary elements. Besides the street corner meetings which were routine for a month or so rallies were arranged on 15th April and 1st May in which locals including monks from various monasteries were ordered to joint People out of fear attended and listened to the speeches made by the pro-Chinese Tibetans and Chinese. The speeches were centered round one theme i.e. the Tibetan Government and its officials in collusion with the foreign reactionaries were responsible for all this trouble.
The Chinese also rounded up all the Khampas, Amdowas, Sinkiangese, Golokpas and many Chinese civilians who were doing trade or other petty business and sent them back to their respective areas. Their families were also given option to follow them. The prisoners captured in Lhoka area, who were mostly Khampas were also sent away from Lhasa. Though the Chinese said that they were being returned to their homes – but people feared that they were sent to work on China-Tibet railway.
All the able bodied prisoners are being utilized as forced labour either at Nanchen Hydro Electric Project or other construction works. There are reports that in addition to the population census Chinese are collecting detailed information regarding private property owned by an individual including number of heads of cattle etc. all – over Tibet. The Chinese are showing utter disregard for the will of the Tibetans and are going ahead with their plans for in Tibet on the similar lines as in China proper.
The Peking and Lhasa Radios were silent about happenings in Tibet till the 28th March, 1959, though the trouble had started from the 10th March and the free world Radios were giving news about fighting from the 20th March. The Chinese, only after taking complete control of the situation in Lhasa, announced on the 28th March, 1959, the State Council’s order asking the Tibet Military Area Command in Tibet to put down rebellion, dissolved the Tibet local Government and asked the Preparatory Committee to take its – functions. The same day the Peking Radio also broadcast the proclamation of the Tibet Military Area Command and the Hsinhua [Xinhua] News Agency’s communiqué on rebellion in Tibet.
The communiqué said that out of total population of 1,200,000 only about 20,000 were rebel bandits, in other words nationalists, and this included some people from Kham. We feel that the actual position was other way round and not some Khampas but many of them and large number of Amdowas, Golokpas had joined the crusade, some actively and openly and others gave their moral support.
The anti-Chinese feelings existed all over Tibet since Chinese entry in 1950 but only bayonets of the Peoples Liberation Army were keeping these suppressed. If the broad masses of the Tibetans were with them, as the Chinese claim, then there was no reason to have military rule all over Tibet as they did not feel the necessity in Shigatse, seat of the Panchen Lama and where they were confident that nothing would go against them, and also when the rebellion in Lhasa and Lhoka had been quelled.
They suspected every Tibetan and according to talk of the town-it-was only after threats and show of force that the Chinese were able to establish their military administrations in other places in Tibet after establishing it in Lhasa by force. Even now except for their hirelings they do not trust Tibetans in general. The dusk to down curfew continues and the general security measures have not-so-far been relaxed. Except for about 500 prisoners the rest still continue to be in detention. The prisoners released were probably unfit for manual work and their release effected for propaganda campaign to show to Tibetans their magnanimity towards the prisoners.
Almost 99 per cent of the Tibetans did not want Chinese rule though many of them were leading hard life under the feudal system. The main reason for this was the ‘fear’ that the Godless Chinese Communists, not allow them to profess their religion after they completely took over control of things in Tibet. They were prepared to sacrifice everything for religion and for life of the Dalai Lama. The peoples challenge met with failure and proved disastrous for Tibet. The failure was mainly due to inexperience both on part of the leaders and the masses.
The people should have on no account resorted to an armed revolution and similarly at no cost the Tibetan Government should have associated with the movement and encouraged the armed up-rising. The Chinese used force with no reserve for carrying out reforms in adjoining provinces of Tibet including Kham, Eastern Tibet but as for Central Tibet they were careful and as far as possible wanted to use peaceful means i.e. by winning over Tibetans by hook or crook. The reason for this was probably that while they could carry out their reforms by force in those places without outside world knowing about their methods but in case of latter they knew that things would leak out through foreign missions, traders and pilgrims going to India and Nepal and this would bring bad name and material for propaganda for free world.
They were quite aware of the opposition for reforms and for that they postponed these for six years from 1st January, 1957, with a provision that even after six years these would be carried only if people were prepared for it. Whether their offer of postponement was genuine or not it is difficult to say but one thing is clear that the Chinese never lost any opportunity to enforce on Tibetans any item of reforms and they kept a critical eye on all Tibetan officials and day to day functioning of the Tibet Government.
An incident in Gyantse gave them an opportunity to introduce a resolution in the Preparatory Committee exempting Tibetan employees and students from payment of taxes to their Tibetan masters. No Tibetan official could be promoted or granted leave for going outside Tibet on business or pilgrimage, unless it was approved by the Chinese. These coupled with the news of maltreatment to the high ranking Lamas and others by the Chinese in the liberated areas (Lamas and dignitaries being used for manual work, deprived of all privileges and properties etc.) was worrying the Tibetans in Central Tibet as the promised period of the postponement of reforms was coming to an end.
They preferred to risk their lives rather than to undergo the Chinese ‘Liberation’. On the other hand the Chinese were looking for an opportunity, if possible an armed uprising, to take things in their hands, and unfortunate for Tibet such an opportunity did arise on 10th March.
The Tibetan’s apprehension of Chinese way of treatment was not wrong as the events after the revolution are proving. The high ranking officials and Lamas, who could not escape to India or stayed behind after the Dalai Lama’s departure, are being subjected to humiliation. Servants, subjects and disciples are forced to beat their former masters and Gurus. They are also employed for manual work including carriage of rubbish etc. for manure. Beating in one case was so severe that the person died the next day while another high ranking official (Tsarong Dzasa) died couple of days before he was scheduled for such a treatment, probably on account of shock.
They have a mind to eliminate the upper class as it is alleged that this class was responsible for the uprising and luring workers and peasants to rally around them.
We have no authentic information as to what actually transpired in Lhoka area, which was under the complete control of the Khampas, when the Chinese forces carried a three prong drive against the defenders of the faith there. According to the Chinese 2000 rebels were either killed, wounded or captured, many surrendered while some fled to India.
The Chinese are adopting all methods to bring the Tibetans into their fold and it is feared that in due course the Tibetans will lose their individual identity and culture. The Chinese do not even call the Tibetans as Tibetans. Many Tibetans have already done away with their pig-tails and Bakoos (Tibetan cloak) and instead started wearing Chinese dress, to please Chinese masters. Unless something extraordinary happens we do not think the Tibetans have any chance of getting independence or real regional autonomy in foreseeable future as the Chinese have now established themselves so firmly that they will not care about anything even world opinion and will go ahead with their policy of annihilating the Tibetan race.
They would not bother about the Tibetans who have left Tibet, not even for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They would write off these as traitors. They, however, would not mind Dalai Lama’s return on their terms. The Chinese are not missing him as in his place they have Panchen Lama who harps their tune and is good enough to fill in the formalities of the office and as religious pontiff. As for the broad masses, who have great faith in the Dalai Lama, will under intimidation accept the Panchen Lama as their religious guide in due course of time Chinese are also taking steps to see that the religion does not play an important role in the life of the Tibetans in the coming generation. For this they are vigorously enrolling children of all classes and imparting education on the communist lines.
The future of Tibet is dark and only a miracle can save Tibet from the clutches of the Chinese Communist Colonialists.
(Source: National Archives of India)

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Indian Dalai Lama

Urgyeling, the birthplace of the Sixth Dalai Lama
In January 1951, a few months after the invasion of Tibet and sensing a threat from China, the then Assam Governor Jairamdas Daulatram ordered a young Naga officer to march to Tawang and start adminstrating the area.
On February 9, 1951, Maj Ralengnao (Bob) Khathing, accompanied by 200 troops of 5 Assam Rifles and 600 porters, arrived in Tawang in the then Kameng Frontier Division of the North-East Frontier Agency.
A month earlier, Bob had left the foothills on his historic mission. A few days after his arrival, he selected a high-ground near the Tawang Monastery for meeting the Dzongpens, the Commissioners from Tsona in Tibet and the village elders. Bob walked to the place, while 100 riflemen encircled the ground. The Assistant Political officer (this was Khathing’s designation) instructed his second in-command to ‘fix bayonet’: “One hundred click sounds of bayonets coming in unison seemed to say, we are even ready for blood,” wrote his biographer; then Bob spoke to the people about the Indian nation.
Thereafter, everything went smoothly. In fact the Monpas were delighted by Khathing’s arrival.
On February 14, 70 years after the momentous event, several dignitaries celebrated this ‘true hero of independent India’ and Arunachal Pradesh Governor Brig (Retd.) BD Mishra laid the foundation stone of a memorial for him at Tawang. 

The Master of Poetry
Another hero of Monyul, the land of Monpas, located south of the McMahon Line is Tsangyang Gyalsto, the Sixth Dalai Lama who is hardly known in India today.
The cuckoo bird from the land of Mon brings rain,
It descends from the sky
It brings blessings to the earth.
Life grows and blossoms.
When the cuckoo bird comes from Mon
My lover and I join as one
In body, heart and mind.
It may seem incredible, but this song was written by a Dalai Lama. Tsangyang Gyaltso (the Precious Ocean of Pure Melody), the Sixth Dalai Lama born in 1643 in Urgyeling village, South of Tawang.
Near the hamlet’s temple (where Tsangyang took birth), there is a tall and magnificent tree. Many legends revolve around this sandalwood tree: it is said that it was planted by Tsangyang Gyaltso before being taken away to his destiny in Lhasa. The youngster made a prophesy saying that when the 3 main branches would become equal, he would come back to Tawang. The local priest said that the 3 branches reached the same size in 1959, a few months before the Dalai Lama, fleeing Tibet to take refuge in India, passed through Tawang and ‘visited again’ Urgyeling.
When the delegation searching for the reincarnation of the Fifth Dalai Lama reached Urgyeling, the Regent Desi Sangyay Gyaltso, fearing that intrigues would start as soon as the news of his passing away would be known, had still not revealed that the Lama-King was no more. He was also very keen to finish the task assigned to him by the Fifth Dalai Lama: to complete the Potala Palace in Lhasa. A series of divination and special pujas had given the Regent the certitude that the reincarnation of the deceased Dalai Lama was born in Monyul.
Tsewang Lhamo, the mother of the future Dalai Lama once asked her son to get a piece of wood and fix it in the soil to tie a cow. Instead of planting the stick in the soil, the young Tsangyang made a hole with his finger in a big stone and stuck the stick inside it. It is one of the many miracles he is said to have performed. The stone is still on the altar of his maternal house near Tawang.
Tsangyang Gyaltso was in many ways an exceptional Dalai Lama. At a young age, he was taken away to Tsona, the main monastery on the other side of the border, where he was kept for several years under the tight surveillance of the local Governors (his real identity had not been revealed to anybody). He was already an adolescent when he finally left for Nagartse near Lhasa where his Guru, the Second Panchen Lama enthroned him as the Sixth Dalai Lama.
He consistently refused to take the monk vows from his Guru and preferred a pleasure of life, visiting at night the taverns in the village of Shol below his Potala Palace and writing love songs to his beloved girl friend: “In my Palace, the place of Heaven on Earth, they call me Rigzin Tsangyang Gyaltso, But below , in the village of Shol, they call me Dangzang Wangpo, the profligate, for my lovers are many.”
His exquisite poetry is still known to all Tibetans and Monpas and sung during long evenings around a fire after a few cups of chang.
Academicians will fight to decide if he was a great Tantric master or only an ordinary man, whether his poetry contains an esoteric teaching written in a secret language or are only the verses of a libertine. He may have been both at the same time; Tsangyang may have come a couple of centuries too early to be really understood. He loved freedom and could not bear the prison that seems to have been life in the Potala, he was suffocating in the darks rooms housing thousands of gods and wrathful demons. He preferred the company of his friends. How could he have not felt oppressed in the midst of the power struggles and intrigues between aristocrats in Tibetan government in Lhasa, the Mongol chieftains and the Emperor of China? Was he remembering the days when as a kid in Urgyeling he used to escape to roam around the barley fields and the rhododendron bushes?
But his legend continued after his presumed death. The ‘Secret Biography’ of his ‘hidden life’ (written by Michael Aris, husband of Aung San Suu Kyi) tells us that he escaped the Mongols who had deposed him andwanted to kill him, he secretly left for Eastern Tibet and Inner Mongolia where he first became a wandering monk and then settled in Alashan which is today in Inner Mongolia. He passed away in 1746, forty years after his official death. He built a large number of monasteries and had thousands of disciples. Only very few knew who he really was.
His last poem before his presumed death is known by all; it announced his return as the Seventh Dalai Lama: “Oh White Crane! Lend me your wings, I shall not fly far, From Lithang, I shall return.”
Two years later a young boy Kalsang Gyaltso was born in Lithang (Eastern Tibet) who would soon be recognised as the Seventh Dalai Lama.
Earlier this month, China Tibet Online announced that from December 12 to 13, 2020, the Tsangyang Gyatso Cultural Research Association held its second meeting; this Chinese organization is said to be “engaged in cultural research of Tsangyang Gyatso and is approved by the People’s Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region”, according to the Communist website, which adds: “The association is composed of well-known Tibetan scholars in China and of experts and scholars from various ethnic groups as well as from businesses and industries who all love Tsangyang Gyatso culture.” 

Maternal Village of Tsangyang Gyaltso

It is ironical, that the Sixth Dalai Lama is ‘studied’ and eulogized in Communist China, while the present one is demonized. But Tsangyang Gyaltso does not belong to China; he is truly a part of Tibet and Monyul (Tawang) heritage.
However in terms of propaganda, China is indeed always far in advance on India.
Already in 2014, the residence of Tsangyang Gyatso when he stayed in Tsona (Tibet) on his way from Tawang to Lhasa “has been approved to be the Tibet's historical and cultural site under government protection”, observed chinanews.com.
To acknowledge Maj Khathing was a great move by the Government of Arunachal and the Indian Army, but why can’t Tsangyang Gyaltso also be acknowledged as an Indian Dalai Lama and a cultural centre or museum opened in Urgyeling or Tawang. The importance of the Dalai Lamas in Himalayan culture needs to be emphasised; a Poetry Festival, on the model of the Jaipur Literary Festival could also be organized on a yearly basis in Tawang and poets from all over of the world invited to visit this charming part of India.
Why leave the initiative always to China, who still dares to claim Tawang as Southern Tibet?
Tawang is very much a part of India, and if the present Dalai Lama decides one day to take rebirth in Tawang, the Indian government will openly welcome him and support him.

He wrote with his finger 'The Lama Knows' ('Lama Geno')

A descendant of the Sixth Dalai Lama

China 'celebrating' Tsangyang Gyaltso in Tsona (Tibet)

Friday, February 26, 2021

India’s firmness, Xi Jinping’s political goals, explain China’s withdrawal in Ladakh

My article India’s firmness, Xi Jinping’s political goals, explain China’s withdrawal in Ladakh appeared in The Indian Express

Here is the link...

A few months ago, most analysts were convinced that the Chinese would never vacate the occupied areas. But several reasons compelled Beijing to change its stance.

A great deal has already been written by Indian experts on the decision by the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army to ‘disengage’ in Ladakh, starting from the vicinity of the Pangong tso.
Rajnath Singh, India’s Defence Minister stated in the Parliament: “As a result of our well thought out approach and sustained talks with the Chinese side, we have now been able to reach an agreement on disengagement in the North and South Bank of the Pangong Lake.”
Singh announced: “both sides will cease their forward deployments.”
It was agreed that the Chinese would keep its troop presence in the North Bank area to the east of Finger 8: “reciprocally, the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3. A similar action would be taken in the South Bank area by both sides.”
Many have doubted the sincerity of the Chinese and have suggested that even if the PLA withdraws, Beijing will somehow manage to return through a ‘backdoor’; to trust China is undeniably difficult; this is why the minister spoke of withdrawing “in a phased, coordinated and verified manner.”
After the Galwan incident on June 16 last year (on President Xi Jinping’s birthday) during which 20 Indian jawans and officers lost their lives, trust has been absent; incidentally, the Chinese casualties (probably around 45 killed) are still today a ‘State secret’ in the Middle Kingdom, while Col Santosh Babu, the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar regiment was awarded Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest decoration in wartime. With the prospect of new clashes looming large, both sides took the decision to ‘disengage’.
Though a few months ago most analysts were convinced that the Chinese would never vacate the occupied areas, several reasons compelled Beijing to change its stance as continuation of the confrontation could have made the Communist ‘core’ leader lose face further.
Before we go into the change of mind of Chinese leadership, it is important to understand the political background in the Middle Kingdom.
The New Emperor wants to project himself on the world scene as a man of peace; addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Xi Jinping recently affirmed that “the misguided approach of antagonism and confrontation … will eventually hurt all countries’ interests and undermine everyone’s well-being.” Xi proclaimed that “the strong should not bully the weak …we should stay committed to international law and international rules, instead of seeking one’s own supremacy.” Was he speaking seriously?
The Wall Street Journal sarcastically commented: “but that admonition doesn’t seem to apply to his own government.”
Speaking of other conflicts, Xi added: “[the] solution lies in making peace, promoting reconciliation and restoring stability.”
It was difficult for the Chinese president to sustain a war for a few hundred meters here and there in Ladakh, by mobilizing some 50,000 of his own troops at an altitude above 4,500 m with glacial temperatures, while promoting peace in the world.
In another recent speech, Xi mentioned his objectives: “time and momentum are on China's side.” The new Great Helmsman believes in the ‘Great rejuvenation of Chinese nation’ led by the soon-100 years old Communist Party of China (CPC); he however cited challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, deteriorating relations with the West or a slowing economy and he added: "The world is in a turbulent time that is unprecedented in the past century.”
Only the future will tell us if the ‘momentum’ is indeed on China’s side, but there is no doubt that the world is going through uncertain and difficult times.
Xi’s objectives point to the Two Centenaries, which refer to two anniversaries:, the CPC founding in July 2021, before which a fully ‘moderately well-off’ society will be achieved and the centenary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 2049 which will see a "strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious, and modern socialist country."
A war with India does not presently fit into Xi’s plans at this point in time at least.
Uncertainty is bound to continue in 2021 and probably beyond, but during the present crisis, India has found reliable and unwavering support abroad (particularly from the US and France), this was also a factor which made Xi think twice before continuing the confrontation in Ladakh.
He was also certainly surprised by the firmness of the Indian Government which stuck to its guns and asked China to return to the pre-May 2020 positions; Delhi was clearly determined to fight even if it was for a few hundred meters in a few spots.
The resilience and the innate strength of the Indian jawans who adapted far better than their Chinese counterparts to the climatic hardship, must have shocked the Chinese leadership who still depends on bi-yearly recruitments (with China’s one child policy, who wants to send a son to the front?); perhaps linked to this, it is a fact that China’s medical casualties were much higher due to weather and high altitude.
Another shock for Beijing has been that the Indian Army has been deputed, through the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, to conduct the negotiations. It is a first in post-Independence India; for most Foreign Service officers, negotiation is the Art of Compromise, but a soldier knows far better than a diplomat how a few hundred meters in a mountainous area, can be vital. The Indian military displayed patience, resolve and determination to return to the situation prevalent in April 2020.
It should also be mentioned that in recent years infrastructure development along the Northern borders of India have got an unprecedented boost; this must have irritated Beijing no end.
We also have to see the present disengagement in the historical context. Though knowing about the road being constructed by China in the Indian Aksai Chin as early as 1952-53, the then government in Delhi kept quiet; that inaction put the country in an inextricable situation.
On October 18, 1958, the Indian Foreign Secretary wrote an ‘informal’ note to the Chinese Ambassador in Delhi stating that it had come to Delhi’s notice that a road had been constructed by China “across the eastern part of the Ladakh region of the J&K State, which is part of India, …the completion of which was announced in September 1957.”
If Beijing had not announced the opening of the road, the information would have probably been kept secret longer by Delhi!
The note continued: “it is matter of surprise and regrets that the Chinese Government should have constructed a road through indisputably Indian territory without first obtaining the permission of the Government of India and without even informing the Government of India.”
It says it all. To retrieve the situation from such an abyss requires patience, endurance and determination.
Hopefully a first step has been done, but utmost vigilance is the need of the hour.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Mysterious Disappearances on the Roof of the World

TAR Standing Committee meeting on February 19

In December, I mentioned that the Ninth Plenary Session of the Ninth Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and the Economic Work Conference of the Regional Party Committee, took place in Lhasa from December 25 to 27, 2020.
The Chinese media spoke of the importance of the conference held ‘at a historic moment’ when the 13th Five-Year Plan ended ‘successfully’ (with hundreds of new villages on India’s borders, among other achievements!!). 

Xinhua added: “The building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects was achieved, and the new journey for the comprehensive construction of a socialist modern Tibet, which is about to begin, is self-evident.”
Though it was an important gathering, the real news was about the absence of Lobsang Gyaltsen, the Chairman of the TAR Regional Congress and senior most Tibetan cadre (he is a full member of the all-powerful Central Committee).
I then wrote: “Gyasltsen was nowhere to be seen. It is too early to speculate, but that there not many explanations as of now; either he caught a bad cold or more (the delegates were seen respecting social distancing during the Plenum, with only alternate chairs occupied by the participants) or Lobsang Gyaltsen is under ‘investigation’.”

Morphed appearance of Lobsang Gyaltsen
He came back and disappeared again
Since then Lobsang Gyaltsen has reappeared, extremely skinny, to disappear again.
But did he really reappear?
On February 19, he was seen attending a meeting of the TAR Standing Committee; Wu Yingjie, the TAR Party Secretary was to convey “the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech at the 2021 Spring Festival”.
Yu exhorted the cadres to use “the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech as guide to do a good job of the 'Four Major Events’ (one is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the party and another one, the so-called 70th peaceful liberation of Tibet).
The latter probably meant the signature of the 17-Point Agreement in May 1951 and the entry of the People’s Liberation Army in the streets of Lhasa in September 1951.
The meeting also got the feedback from the 10th Central Inspection Team on the ‘rectification work’. 

Lobsang Gyaltsen was seen in the video report, but on closer examination, he was not present.
In a pure Stalinist  way, he was added, the video was morphed (the yellow curtain behind him did not exist in the meeting room).

Another angle shows Che Dralha, the head of the TAR government seating on the left of Wu (it should have been the place of Lobsang Gyaltsen).
Why to show him if he was not present?
This is probably how the Communist Party has always been functioning.

Another MIA
Another senior member was ‘Missing in Action’ (MIA), it is Ding Yexian.
Ding was Executive Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the Regional Consultative Conference (CPPCC), President of the Party School of the District Party Committee and since 2019 and Director of the Office of the Comprehensive Deepening Reform Committee.
A really important cadre.
On January 23, 2021, he even became deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Eleventh TAR People's Congress, along with his colleagues Norbu Thondup and Tang Mingying.
Ding is/was also an alternate member of the 19th Central Committee.
But according to a Chinese website dated February 3: “Alternate member of the Central Committee Ding Yexian, has stepped down as Executive Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee.” (Source: Beijing News Political Affairs).
The website added: “According to the latest information from the ‘Introduction to Leaders’ on the official website of the CPC Tibet Autonomous Region Committee, Ding Ye, the executive deputy secretary of the TAR Party Committee, is no longer among the leaders."

Norbu Thondup

Another Central Committee Alternate Member disappears
In the video report of the meeting of the TAR Standing Committee mentioned above, another senior Tibetan cadre, Norbu Thondup, is also MIA.
A day later, he could not again be spotted in another gathering: the TAR Communist Regional Party held a ‘mobilization meeting’ to implement the rectification work of the 10th Inspection Team of the Central Committee (to maintain political sobriety, improve political positions, take up political responsibilities, resolutely implement the rectification and implement the feedback from the central inspection team).
It was in February 20 in the afternoon.
It was presided over by Wu Yingjie, who is also the head the Leading Group of the 10th Inspection Group of the Central Committee.
Lobsang Gyaltsen was MIA, ditto for Ding Yexian and Norbu Thondup.
The disappearance of three members of the Central Committee is certainly a very serious affair which will need to be followed closely.
All is not well on the Roof of the World.

New Appointments
In the meantime, on February 10, it was announced that Zhuang Yan and Wang Haizhou would no longer serve as Vice Chairmen of the TAR People's Government.

The Tibet Daily’s WeChat official account released the list of removals from the Standing Committee of the TAR People's Congress  on February 10, (the decision had been taken at the 27th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Eleventh People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the same day).

Wang Haizhou, new member of the Standing Committee
According to The Paper in Hong Kong: “Zhuang Yan, Wang Haizhou no longer serves as Vice Chairman of the TAR People's Government.”

It indicated a promotion for both cadres;  the next day, Wang Haizhou was appointed as a member of the TAR Standing Committee and Minister of the Propaganda Department.

Xinhua said: “On the afternoon of the 10th [February], the Propaganda Department of the TAR Party Committee held a cadre meeting and announced the decision on the appointment of the main leaders: Comrade Wang Haizhou was appointed member of the Standing Committee of the District Party Committee and Minister of the Propaganda Department.”

Deputy Secretary of the TAR Party Committee Yan Jinhai attended and delivered a speech. Chen Yongqi, member of the TAR Standing Committee and Director of the Organization Department, announced the appointment decision of the main leaders of the Propaganda Department.

Party Committee Standing Committee Member and Minister of Propaganda Department Wang Haizhou made a statement.

Zhuang Yan

As for Zhuang Yan, he is probably stepping in the shoes of Ding Yexian as TAR Executive Deputy Secretary. 

It has to be  noted that 70 years after the so-called 'Peaceful Liberation of Tibet' and as the Communist Party is preparing to celebrate the event, that are only 5 Tibetans out of 14 members of the Standing Committee (if one counts Lobsang Gyaltsen).

Tibet is not really 'liberated'.

 The presence of the PLA
Incidentally, Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie, the Political Commissar of the Tibet Military District and senior most PLA officer in Tibet attended the meeting of the Standing Committee on February 19. 

He is listed No 6 in the protocol, certainly an insult for the Chinese Armed Forces.

Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie, Political Commissar, Tibet Military District
 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

A manual of Indian blunders in India-China relations

My book The End of an Era India Exits Tibet - Part IV has been reviewed by Vijay Kranti in The Organizer.  

The review is entitled: A manual of Indian blunders in India-China relations

This monumental four-volume analytical document deserves to be adopted as a compulsory text book in the training programmes for every MEA entrant and Member Parliament on “How not to conduct External Affairs of India.” This review deals with the fourth volume, The End of an Era—India Exits Tibet: India-Tibet Relations 1947-1962

Here is the link...

A big handicap in the business of book publishing on current affairs in India, especially on major issues related to India’s international relations, is the shortage of books by genuine and passionate researchers. A large section of books available in the market is by former bureaucrats and political leaders who invest most of the space and efforts in justifying and highlighting their personal role and looking good. There are quite a few other serious books which are mere reproduction of PhD or other research works of individual scholars for whom it was a formal exercise in completing a project or an assignment. Very few among such works are the result of a passionate hunger for digging out facts, developments and trends related to events which made history and affected India’s fate in a big way.
Claude Arpi’s set of four books under the series “India Tibet Relations (1947-1962)” belongs to the last category. It is a monumental work as an honest and detailed ‘post mortem’ of developments during 1947-1962 era within the India-China-Tibet triangle. It was that period of history which first marked the Chinese attack on the Eastern part of Tibet, followed by its formal occupation and then India’s final withdrawal and snapping of centuries old relations with Tibet to leave the ground open for China to fortify and perpetuate its colonial rule over Tibet. Interestingly, all this colonial drama happened under the watch of a ‘free’ world which had just emerged out of the Second World War and had started taking pride in witnessing the beginning of the end of colonialism from the face of earth. The focus of our discussion is the fourth and concluding volume of this series which is titled “The End of an Era: India Exits Tibet”.
This book is monumental in more than one ways. As Maj. General BK Sharma the Director of United Service Institution of India (USI), puts it in his foreword....
This historic research project will not only dispel many myths but also unravel the truth about the events that were to shape India-Tibet-China relations during those crucial years.” It is under USI’s ‘Field Marshal KM Cariappa Chair of Excellence’ that Claude Arpi conducted this research. These books offers a deep insight and an honest and dispassionate analysis of the way Indian government ‘mishandled’, the invasion of Tibet by China in October 1950; subsequent complete assimilation of Tibet into PRC; and then issues created by China on Indian borders as a consequence of this sudden overnight metamorphism of many millennias old ‘India-Tibet border’ into an ‘India-China border’. It explores and exposes the unending chain of blunders committed by the then Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and his army of diplomats and policy makers in the MEA. It also analyses how these blunders pushed India into miserable and hopeless situation where India finds itself today vis-à-vis China seven decades later.
It explores and exposes the unending chain of blunders committed by the then Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and his army of diplomats and policy makers in the MEA. It also analyses how these blunders pushed India into miserable and hopeless situation where India finds itself today vis-à-vis China seven decades later
The forth volume (1958-1962) deals with developments leading to India-China war in 1962. It presents the stark contrast between the approaches of Mao’s China and Nehru’s India in dealing with their respective national interests and ambitions. While China was feverishly busy in establishing a motorable network of roads in Tibet, the ‘Hindi Cheeni Bhai Bhai’ fever of PM Nehru had taken the dimensions of such a cerebral fever that the PM office and the MEA mandarins in New Delhi practically assigned all such warning reports to files without even reading them – leave aside taking any action or counter measures to correct the situation.
Claude Arpi presents many glaring examples of how Nehru mishandled his relations with China. One example is of Aksai Chin of India’s Ladakh which China quietly occupied by just walking in. In early 1958 Nehru’s Foreign Secretary Subimal Dutt submitted to him report on China’s 1200 km long road connecting Gartok in Western Tibet with Yeh (Yeheng) in Sinkiang (now ‘Xinjiang’) through India’s Aksai Chin area five months after its ‘official’ opening by China. With this report he advised the PM to send a reconnoitering party ‘in the coming spring’ to verify if the road had ‘really been built’ on Indian territory. In response, an indifferent Nehru rejected even the idea of an air reconnaissance saying: “I do not think it is desirable… In fact I do not see what good this can do us….”. And finally Nehru suggested to his Foreign Secretary: “our maps should be sent to the Chinese….. But I think it would be better to do this rather informally.” It simply shows that Nehru did not have any desire, or guts, to confront China even in a blatant case of usurping Indian territory. The book reveals how New Delhi happily went on exporting tons of rice through Nathu La to feed the Chinese road workers who were busy connecting their army posts on border with Lhasa through a motorable road.
This set of book fortifies popular perception that a sizeable section among Indian bureaucrats, especially those serving MEA, are brilliant in parts but most of them use their brilliance more for ensuring and fortifying their personal comforts and interests rather than for serving the national interests. Prior to signing of the so called “Panchsheel Agreement” with China in 1954, Indian Ambassador KM Panikaar to Peking (know ‘Beijing’) had advised Nehru not to speak of a border which is settled with China because “if it were not settled China would have brought the issue to the negotiating table”. He failed to understand the meaning behind Chinese PM Zhou Enlai’s words, “we are prepared to settle all such problems as are ripe for settlement,” which actually meant that China would prepare for or wait for situations to become favourable enough to raise claims on any Indian areas.
Author Claude Arpi has put in hard work in studying official documents to expose such anomalies in the performance of India’s diplomatic force. He refers to PM Zhou’s letter of January 23, 1959 to Indian PM Nehru in which he had clearly explained why China did not discuss border issues in the 1954 agreement. The letter said, “…The border question was not raised in 1954 when negotiations were being held between the Chinese and Indian sides for the ‘Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet Region of China and India’ (popularised by Pt. Nehru as the ‘Panchsheel Agreement). This was because conditions were not yet ripe for its settlement.”
The book is a monumental work as it is loaded with logical analysis of Indian government’s blatant failure in reading the Chinese mind and its inability to take timely steps to protect Indian interests. One only wonders why India’s foreign policy leaders and their army of MEA bureaucrats could not learn basic lessons even from written documents like Zhou’s above letter which gives a transparent peep into the real Chinese mind and their intentions about borders with India. Had India’s China policy makers ever read Zhou’s letter seriously they would have saved India from the deep pitfall they have landed Indian on the border issues vis-à-vis China. On the one hand such incidents explain why China has never allowed the border issue to be settled with India and how inefficient, incompetent and indifferent Indian policy makers have remained oblivious to it for over six decades after Zhou revealed his government’s policy on border disputes with India. This failure reflects even from a well-known fact while China has been feverishly busy in fortifying their defence infrastructure on the Tibetan side of our borders, India has been postponing providing even a single reasonable road link to our Army personnel along nearly 4000 km long border.
This set of books is result of a long painstaking research by the author. He has given hundreds of real examples of how India’s leaders and bureaucrats mishandled their responsibilities in the most delicate and demanding moments of national history. That is why Claud’s racy and lucid writing style makes reading of this monumental work an exercise in self-inflicted torture for any reader who has some love or sympathy for India.
All this makes this set of books an invaluable document for all those scholars, media persons and students of international affairs who wants to understand the true characteristics and history of India-China relations. It is a must read for India’s policy makers who need to understand the significance of a free Tibet for ensuring India’s territorial integrity and national security from China’s future plans and machinations. Thanks to the author’s in depth research and sharp analysis, this four-volume analytical document deserves to be adopted as a compulsory text book for every MEA entrant and each Member of Indian Parliament on “How not to conduct external affairs of India.”

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Trusty old allies India, France can bond over big research

My article Trusty old allies India, France can bond over big research appeared in The Asian age/Deccan Chronicle

Here is the link...

What is required for France and India is to take their relations to the next level
Concrete collaborations are, and will be, undoubtedly difficult, they will face obstacles, which in the end can only help deepen bilateral relations. 

Concrete collaborations are, and will be, undoubtedly difficult, they will face obstacles, which in the end can only help deepen bilateral relations. 

President Xi Jinping recently affirmed that “time and momentum are on China's side”. The Great Helmsman believes in the “great rejuvenation of Chinese nation” led by the soon-100 years old Communist Party of China; he, however, cited challenges, adding: "The world is in a turbulent time that is unprecedented in the past century.”
Only the future will ascertain if the “momentum” is indeed on China’s side, but there is no doubt that the world is going through uncertain and difficult times. As this is bound to continue in 2021 and probably beyond, India has to find reliable and unwavering support abroad.
Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Xi recently asserted, somewhat ironically: “The misguided approach of antagonism and confrontation… will eventually hurt all countries’ interests and undermine everyone’s well-being.”
For over 20 years, France and India have been practising cooperation. Recently, India had supported France when the country was attacked by Islamic fundamentalists: “India stands with Paris at this difficult moment and fully supports the French government on this issue,” affirmed New Delhi.
Trust is the key in every relationship. When President Jacques Chirac came to India in 1998, he proposed a strategic partnership. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee readily agreed to give a concrete shape to one based on shared values.
The 1998 Indo-French partnership is deep for many reasons; one of them is a shared vision of the world. Further, France has never tried to bully India into accepting its views, while standing by India during the nuclear tests, in favour of a UN Security Council seat and on terrorism. This has not always been the case with other countries, including the United States.
The recently-concluded “Exercise Desert Knight-21” held in Jodhpur is another example of sharing. With 11 Rafale aircrafts having already joined that Indian Air Force (IAF), the collaboration has been a game-changer for India in the confrontation with China in Ladakh.
Speaking in Jodhpur, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria said the first priority had been for the IAF to integrate the fighter planes in the existing fleet: “It has been done and the current exercise Desert Knight is the result of that.” French Ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain, noting that the first French aircraft landed in India in 1953, observed “the partnership has persisted through good and bad times”.
New Delhi and Paris also held their annual Strategic Dialogue on January 7. National security advisor Ajit Doval met his French counterpart Emmanuel Bonne, the French President’s diplomatic advisor (known as the “Sherpa”). According to a South Block press release: “The two sides held discussions on… counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, defence cooperation, maritime security, regional and global issues, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.”
According to some sources, France agreed to an Indian request that defence technologies will not be shared with Pakistan. Further, Mr Bonne would have offered that 70 per cent of the assembly line for future Rafales could come under “Make in India” scheme, with technology transfer.
During the recent India-France-Japan Workshop on the Indo-Pacific held in Delhi, the foreign secretary said: “The Indo-Pacific has become an essential concept in international relations today.” It is certainly a field where Paris and Delhi could collaborate, however, a “turbulent-time” partnership means more than joining a new grouping or buying a few combat aircrafts. Of course, sharing advanced technology is difficult; years ago, Safran, the French company which has developed the engine for the Rafale, tried to work with DRDO on a new engine for the Tejas, nothing has materialised.
One still remembers how difficult has been the cooperation and transfer of technology under the “75 Project” for six Scorpene submarines. The fifth Scorpene, INS Vagir, built by the Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) with technology transfer from France was launched in November 2020; MDL will manufacture a total of six submarines with technology assistance from the Naval Group under a US $3.75 billons deal signed in October 2005.
Concrete collaborations are, and will be, undoubtedly difficult, they will face obstacles, which in the end can only help deepen bilateral relations. It is ironic that for years Paris believed in the depth of its relations with China, so much so that a P4 Lab was “offered” to China in Wuhan, with consequences that are suspicious today. The P4 lab episode is an example of what should never be done — work with untrustworthy partners.
What is required for France and India is to take their relations to the next level; for this, both nations need to work on a “big” research project. I am thinking of an armed drone of the next generation; another field could be quantum communication, yet another could be a sixth-generation aircraft. In Jodhpur, the Air Chief said, “Our present vision is to incorporate all the latest technologies and sensors in our fifth-generation aircraft” and at a later stage work on a sixth-generation plane, a project in which both nations could collaborate.
For this, the thrust of the leaders of both countries is necessary — but can they find time to “dream” in these turbulent times?