|Xi Jinping (then Vice-President) in Tibet in 2011|
The same publication also quoted me in another article.
Dalai Lama on Xi Jinping – Open-Minded and realistic
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are still discussing and writing the script for India-China ties ahead, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, hailing Xi Jinping as “open-minded” and “realistic”, advised him:
India is a vast country with a huge population. Different parts of the country speak different languages, yet there is a sense of oneness among Indians. Democracy is practised strongly in the country and there is a free media. The Chinese president should learn these values from Indians.The 79-year-old Buddhist monk, who has been living in exile since 1959, further added:
Actually the Tibetan problem (is) also (a) problem of India. Before 1950, you see the whole northern border, really peaceful, no single soldier. So India’s problem.Author of several books on Tibet and Sino-Indian relations, Claude Arpi, in his article ‘Xi Jinping must engage Dalai Lama on Tibet’, opines:
India can’t contemplate with indifference what is happening in Tibet. If the Tibet issue is not solved to the satisfaction of all, it is doubtful if the India-China relations can one day be normal. One solution could be that a senior trusted member of Xi’s entourage meets the Dalai Lama and starts earnest negotiations for a genuine autonomy of the Roof of the World.Earlier this month, the 14th Dalai Lama told a German newspaper that he should be the last Tibetan spiritual leader, ending a centuries-old religious tradition from his Himalayan homeland. In conversation with Niti Central, Claude Arpi explains why Dalai Lama doesn’t want a successor:
Panchen Lama is the highest ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama. China asserts it is Gyancain Norbu, while the 14th Dalai Lama asserted it was Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. So, there are two Panchen Lama in Tibet. Dalai Lama is worried that China might do the same with the spiritual post of Dalai Lama and use it for their political interest in Tibet. So Dalai Lama wants to abdicate this tradition and instead wants democracy for the people of Tibet. This is a wise decision and it might put Chinese Government in a difficult situation because China doesn’t believe in democracy.
While China sees Dalai Lama as a separatist seeking an independent Tibet, the Dalai Lama says he only seeks more autonomy for Tibet.
Here is the article Xi Jinping must engage Dalai Lama on Tibet
Beijing is not ready to recognise the basic historical fact that Tibet was independent before its so-called liberation.
President Xi Jinping of China will land on Wednesday in Ahmedabad, the first leg of his stay in India. Both India and China take the visit seriously. The Modi Sarkar did its homework by sending India’s National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval to Beijing.
Designated ‘Special Envoy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’, Doval briefly met the Chinese President who told him: “Our cooperation not only helps each other’s development but also benefits Asia and the world at large.”
A larger issue however remains unsolved between China and India — Tibet. Let us not forget that Tibet represents nearly 25 per cent of the land mass of the People’s Republic of China. For centuries, the Roof of the World has been a physical and political buffer between India and China.
It changed when Tibet was invaded (‘liberated’ according to Mao) in the Fall of 1950. India lost a good peaceful neighbour and thereafter has had to deal with an aggressive and ‘expansionist’ one — Communist China.
Over the years, Marxist dogmatism has slowly disappeared from the Middle Kingdom, though Beijing continues to be allergic to what it terms ‘Western values’, such as democracy or rule of law. But even in the new situation, Tibet remains a tangibly prickly issue between the two giant Asian nations.
It is visible when one looks at a map of the Himalayas: China still claims more than 80,000 square kilometres of Indian Territory in the North-East alone. Why this claim? Just because Beijing refuses to acknowledge the McMahon line which separates India and Tibet, and this, simply because the 1914 Agreement delineating the border was signed by the then Government of independent Tibet with India’s Foreign Secretary (Sir Henry McMahon). Beijing is not ready to recognise the basic historical fact that Tibet was independent before its so-called liberation.
Last month, a group of SAARC journalists, invited to Tibet, came back pleading Beijing’s cause. They argued that Beijing had started negotiating with the Dalai Lama for his future status. This was immediately denied by the Dalai Lama’s exiled administration, which clarified that the Tibetan leader was not interested to talk about his personal status, but was only preoccupied by the fate of 6 million of his countrymen.
Today, the situation in Tibet is very serious.
Wu Yingjie, the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s Deputy Secretary who received the Indian journalists in Lhasa, spent several months in Nagchu prefecture last year for a mass-line campaign, a scheme dear to Xi Jinping. ‘Mass-line’ means that senior cadres should spend months with the ‘masses’ and convince them of the greatness of the Party and its deep love for the masses.
Wu was however unable to convert the Tibetans.
Radio Free Asia (RFA), quoting a local source, recently reported:
“Chinese police have doubled the number of checkpoints on a road leading to Tibet’s restive Driru county—where residents have resisted forced displays of loyalty to Beijing for about a year—and are beating travelers who show annoyance at being stopped and searched.”
One of the measures put in place after Wu’s stay in Driru was an increase in the number of checkpoints (to 8) on the 270-km stretch between Driru town and Nagchu, the headquarters of prefecture.
RFA’s source said that this has slowed travel time and added to other hardships endured by local people:
“In the past, this distance could be covered in about four hours. Now it takes about seven hours to cover the same distance.”
So much for the mass-line!
At the same time, Orwellian ‘nets in the sky and traps on the ground’ have been set up in the TAR. All phone calls and Internet traffic are closely monitored.
Even more tragic, a few weeks ago, Chinese police opened fire to disperse hundreds of Tibetans protesting the detention of a respected village leader in Sichuan province, seriously wounding nearly a dozen people and killing five.
The New York Times reported:
“The accounts described a flaring of tensions in a mountainous area of Sichuan Province that has long been in turmoil over the Chinese government’s rule.”
On the ground, the Tibetan issue is far from settled.
With the presence in India of the Dalai Lama and more than one lakh of his followers, as well as the unresolved border dispute, Tibet reminds the major ‘unsettled’ bilateral issue. And this is not new.
At the time of the Colombo Conference in January 1950, Harishwar Dayal, the Political Officer in Sikkim responsible for Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan was asked by Nehru to give his opinion on the future relations between India and Tibet. His memorandum was in response to a note prepared by the Indian Ambassador in China, KM Panikkar’s (unfortunately for India, during the following years, a blind Nehru followed an even blinder Panikkar).
i. China will invade Tibet. Invasion is not difficult. Tibet has no chance of successful resistance and will be overrun.
ii. We have no legal right to intervene.
iii. Political intervention would also be futile. To incite the Tibetans to resist would serve no useful purpose.
iv. The wisest course for us to take is to … be strictly neutral when the war comes and to resume diplomatic relations with China as soon as possible.
Harishwar Dayal did not agree with this position. The ICS officer explained the legal position:
“India has acted as if Tibet were a sovereign State to the extent of being capable of making treaties and entering into relations with other powers.”
He logically added:
“If, therefore, China is the unconditional suzerain of Tibet, then it follows that Tibet had no right to make treaties with India, at least without Chinese participation or consent and accordingly all our agreements with Tibet, including the Simla convention of 1914 which defined the boundary (the Mac Mahon line) are invalid.”
Dayal also explained that if there were no legal obligation on the part of India to defend Tibet, if Tibet was attacked, as there was no treaty of mutual defence, there is a moral angle to the issue.
Panikkar had also argued that India should cease to regard Tibet as a buffer State; to this, Dayal answered:
“A country is most secure when no other country can easily invade it. … But the advantages of insularity have been largely neutralized by the development of air power. The next most effective guarantee of safety is to have a belt of friendly small States between a country and its most powerful neighbours.”
His conclusion, written 10 months before the invasion of Tibet:
“The absorption of Tibet into Communist China is not, therefore, a matter which we can contemplate with indifference or even equanimity.”
Sixty-four years later, the situation remains the same. India can’t contemplate with indifference what is happening in Tibet. If the Tibet issue is not solved to the satisfaction of all, it is doubtful if the India-China relations can one day be normal.
One solution could be that a senior trusted member of Xi’s entourage meets the Dalai Lama and starts earnest negotiations for a genuine autonomy of the Roof of the World.
Can Narendra Modi suggest this approach to President Xi Jinping?