Monday, September 15, 2014

Tibet had a Dream too

54th Mechanized Brigade near Lhasa
President Xi Jinping's China seems to be doing efforts at transparency.
Of course, this remains relative, though last week, Xinhua reported that the foreign military attaches based in Beijing, had been invited for a group visit to Tibet: "China's Ministry of National Defense has invited foreign military attache couples for a tour of Tibet."
As you can see, spouses are also in the party.
The official news agency says: "A total of 96 military attaches and their spouses from 46 countries are taking the trip and will visit the cities of Xining, Lhasa and Chongqing. The visitors will be briefed about military construction in Tibet and shown around a military brigade with the Tibet Military command and the Logistical Engineering University of the PLA."
Further, according to the Chinese ministry, the attaches will visit a Tibetan pharmaceutical factory, the homes of Tibetans and local scenic spots.
The objective of the arranged tour was "to enhance the attaches' knowledge and understanding of the lives of the people of Tibet and promote cooperation between Chinese and foreign militaries."
Around the same time, a Joint Tactical Battlegroup drill was organized somewhere on the Tibetan Plateau (in Tibet Military District of Chengdu Military Area Command) with the participation of the 2nd armor battalion of the 54th Mechanized Brigade.
Some 20 tanks and dozens of Armored Fighting Vehicles took part in the maneuvers 'against fixed fortifications'.
The Military Attaches will certainly not be invited to watch these exercises.

While President Xi promotes his Dream of a rejuvenated China, Tibet too had a Dream. 
On September 21, 1987, the Dalai Lama proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan.
This peace plan contains five parts:
  1. Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace;
  2. Abandonment of China's population transfer policy which threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a people;
  3. Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms;
  4. Restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste;
  5. Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. 
Twenty seven years later, this is still a Dream, a far-away Dream.
At that time the Dalai Lama explained:
I propose that the whole of Tibet, including the eastern provinces of Kham and Amdo, be transformed into a zone of 'Ahimsa', a Hindi term used to mean a state of peace and non-violence.
The establishment of such a peace zone would be in keeping with Tibet's historical role as a peaceful and neutral Buddhist nation and buffer state separating the continent's great powers.  It would also be in keeping with Nepal's proposal to proclaim Nepal a peace zone and with China's declared support for such a proclamation.  The peace zone proposed by Nepal would have a much greater impact if it were to include Tibet and neighbouring areas.
The establishment of a peace zone in Tibet would require withdrawal of Chinese troops and military installations from the country, which would enable India also to withdraw troops and military installations from the Himalayan regions bordering Tibet.  This would be achieved under an international agreement which would satisfy China's legitimate security needs and build trust among the Tibetan, Indian, Chinese and other peoples of the region. 
This is in everyone's best interest, particularly that of China and India, as it would enhance their security, while reducing the economic burden of maintaining high troop concentrations on the disputed Himalayan border.
Historically, relations between China and India were never strained.  It was only when Chinese armies marched into Tibet, creating for the first time a common border, that tensions arose between these two powers, ultimately leading to the 1962 war.  Since then numerous dangerous incidents have continued to occur.  A restoration of good relations between the world's two most populous countries would be greatly facilitated if they were separated - as they were throughout history - by a large and friendly buffer region.
To improve relations between the Tibetan people and the Chinese, the first requirement is the creation of trust.  After the holocaust of the last decades in which over one million Tibetans - one sixth of the population - lost their lives and at least as many lingered in prison camps because of their religious beliefs and love of freedom, only a withdrawal of Chinese troops could start a genuine process of reconcilitation.  The vast occupation force in Tibet is a daily reminder to the Tibetans of the oppression and suffering they have all experienced.  A troop withdrawal would be an essential signal that in future a meaningful relationship might be established with the Chinese, based on friendship and trust.  
Like Xi Jinping like to tell the World of the Chinese Dream, but the World should not forget that Tibet too has a Dream.
Pictures of the military exercises on the plateau:


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