Friday, March 29, 2019

European naivety over?

My article European naivety over? appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer.

Here is the link...

Even as Beijing managed to find a new ‘client’ in Italy, other European nations such as France and Germany are not convinced about its bonafide interest

On January 28, 1964, The New York Times reported: “General de Gaulle’s Government broke today with the United States (US) policy of isolating communist China and announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with Peking.” The US newspaper added: “France’s recognition of the communist regime was the first by any major power since the Korean War began nearly 14 years ago.” The US deeply regretted the French move at a time the Chinese communists were “promoting aggression and subversion.” So as French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron received the Chinese presidential couple  for an intimate dinner at Beaulieu-sur-Mer, a resort on the Riviera, the stakes have changed. China now has the upper hand.
In 1964, former French President Charles de Gaulle had affirmed: “La Chine est un grand pays” (China is a big country) but today it has become power No 2 on the planet after the US and Xi Jinping plans to dethrone America with his own dream. Fifty-five years later, the same New York Times reported the arrival of the Chinese President: “The Promenade des Anglais [in Nice] — the palm-lined beachside avenue that is the city’s premier attraction — was closed to traffic all weekend.” This never happened before.
In March last year, Xi made news when he was given a life-long term as President of China. The international Press then mainly noted the Emperor-for-life aspect, forgetting that Xi wanted to transform China into the No 1 world power. A year later, partly due to Twitter attacks from US President Donald Trump, Xi is not so self-assured and an economic crisis, looming large over China, has weakened the Middle Kingdom. Officially, its growth was only 6.5 per cent in 2018, the slowest pace since the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009. Bloomberg noted: “Tariffs on Chinese exports to the US imposed by President Trump are starting to pinch the country’s factories.”
Xiang Songzuo, a professor at the Renmin University School of Finance, wrote that China’s GDP growth would only be 1.67 per cent and not 6.5 per cent in 2018. According to the website Chinascope, Xiang also warned that “nowadays, Chinese have become addicted to playing with debt and high leverage financing. This is actually a mirage and will collapse soon.”
L’Affaire Huawei has been a turning point for the Western views on the Middle Kingdom; the telecom equipment company has been at the centre of media attention for the wrong reasons; US officials charged the company with stealing technology from T-Mobile, one of its business partners and wanting to impose its own standards for the 5G, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications. This is the background of Xi’s visit to Italy, Monaco and France.
Chinese strategists were aware that Italy is the weakest link in the Europe Union (EU) and while more and more countries realise that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), so dear to Xi, is not offering free meals but often plunges the beneficiary nations into deep debts, Beijing managed to find a European “client.”
On March 23, Xinhua reported that Xi and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte jointly “elevated the China-Italy relations into a new era”. A Memorandum of Understanding to advance the construction of the Belt and Road was signed. In a diplomatic jargon, the Chinese news agency said that “the two countries have continuously deepened their communication and cooperation in various fields, which helped each other’s social and economic development.”
Xi urged the two sides to accelerate negotiations on a China-EU investment agreement, enhance synergy of the BRI and the EU’s development strategies. Conte answered the Chinese President: “Italy is glad to seize the historic opportunity in joining the Belt and Road construction.”
Other European countries were not amused, though Xi assured Italy that the BRI would be a two-way road for investment and trade. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Welt am Sonntag newspaper: “In a world with giants like China, Russia or our partners in the US, we can only survive if we are united as the EU …and if some countries believe that they can do clever business with the Chinese, then they will be surprised when they wake up and find themselves dependent.”
The EU’s German budget commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, told the Funke newspaper group that Europe should ensure it retains its autonomy and sovereignty when dealing with China.
French President Macron forcefully asserted that the time of European naivety over China was over: “For many years, we had an uncoordinated approach and China took advantage of our divisions,” he said. He called for stricter rules on Chinese investments in the EU; German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed similar views.
French Finance Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian remarked that “Silk Road cooperation must go in both directions”.
The French Press quoted  the Sri Lankan experience as “the dark side of the new Silk Road.” It mentioned the port of Hambantota and how in the mid-2000s Colombo agreed “to entrust Beijing with the construction of an ex-nihilo port in the town of Hambantota, in the south of the island. It is not yet a question of the Silk Road …but all the ingredients were there.”
Like for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Chinese funds, engineers and workers would build the infrastructure in partnership, supposedly becoming a ‘win-win’ venture. But Sri Lanka, like Malaysia and many other countries, has now discovered that it was in fact a lose-lose operation, with the new assets becoming Chinese as soon as the client state is unable to refund the ‘loans’.
Xi probably did not convince Macron, Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (the latter two joined Macron in Paris to meet the Chinese President) of Beijing’s bonafide, despite the Chinese President’s enigmatic words: “In politics, we should not only build a strong ‘dam’ of mutual trust, but also a ‘lighthouse’ of ideal.”
However, at the end of his visit, Xi left a small present for the European firm Airbus, a $35 billion jet deal, which included 290 A320-series narrow-body planes and 10 A350 wide-bodies. President Macron observed that Xi’s official visit was an “excellent signal” of the strength and reliability of relations between China and France. He added that the two countries are ready to build a “strong Euro-Chinese partnership, based on clear, strict and ambitious rules” …minus naivety.
Will it work?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Dalai Lama in China?

Communist Party officials 'recognizing' the Panchen Lama: a rehearsal?
My article Dalai Lama in China? appeared in Mail Today.

China, though constantly preaching Communist orthodoxy, today believes in reincarnating souls. Hours after the Dalai Lama had told Reuters that it was possible that his incarnation could be found in India, Beijing reiterated its knowledge on the subject.
This comes 60 years after the momentous event which took place in the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), today’s Arunachal Pradesh, on March 31, 1959; the 24-year old Dalai Lama crossed the Indo-Tibet border at Khenzimane in the Kameng Frontier Division, north of Tawang. Since then, he has lived in India as an honoured guest.
In a recent interview with Reuters, “pondering what might happen after his death, the Dalai Lama anticipated some attempt by Beijing to foist a successor.”
The Tibetan leader jokingly told the news agency: “China considers Dalai Lama’s reincarnation as something very important. They have more concern about the next Dalai Lama than me,” but more seriously, he added: “In future, in case you see two Dalai Lamas, one from here [India], a free country, [and] one chosen by Chinese, then nobody will trust, nobody will respect [the one chosen by China]. So that’s an additional problem for the Chinese! It’s possible, it can happen.”
Beijing did not appreciate his point.
The Dalai Lama further commented: “If the majority of [Tibetan people] really want to keep this institution, then this institution will remain.  …Then comes the question of the reincarnation of the 15th Dalai Lama.”
The Chinese Government was quick to counter; Geng Shuang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, immediately relayed by The Global Times, the Communist tabloid, stated: “The reincarnation of Living Buddhas, including the Dalai Lama, should abide by the laws and regulations of the state, as well as religious rituals and historical conventions.”
‘Living Buddha’ is a term invented by Beijing to describe the reincarnated Lamas. Whether, Karl Marx believed in reincarnation suddenly become irrelevant; the political stakes, i.e. the control of the Roof of the World, is politically too vital for the Communist regime, whose mouthpiece proceeded to explain: “The reincarnation of Living Buddhas is a special inheritance of Tibetan Buddhism. It follows fixed rituals and procedures. The Chinese government respects and protects it. The system of reincarnation has a history of several hundred years and the title of the 14th Dalai Lama itself also follows religious rituals and historical conventions, and was granted by the then China central government.”
According to a Chinese ‘expert’ quoted by The Global Times, the Dalai Lama’s only interest is to sabotage Tibet’s regional stability; it was “reflecting the Dalai's anxiety and fear of losing his influence in the world.”
Another ‘expert’ affirmed that it is so ridiculous to talk about reincarnation “when the 14th Dalai Lama is still alive.”
It might be ridiculous, but Beijing since year has been obsessed to put everything in place for when the day comes.
Already in 2007, the stage was set for the tragicomedy when China decided to implement the 'Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism.'
The ‘measures’ stipulated that “the Dalai Lama should follow the religious rites, historical mechanism and the national laws and regulations” and the present Dalai Lama had “no authoritative power on his own reincarnation issue.”
When the Dalai Lama objected, an article in China’s State media called the Tibetan leader’s statement “a blasphemy towards the religious rites and historical mechanism of Tibetan Buddhism, a great disrespect to the followers of the religion, and an absolute provocation towards the authority of the central government.”
Pointing a finger at the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Chinese media stated: “Reincarnating living Buddhas shall not... be under the dominion of any foreign organization or individual;” in other words, no reincarnation in the Land of the Buddha, i.e. India.
China watchers already knew that Beijing was 'preparing' for the Lama’s succession and that the Chinese government was keen to use the Manchu-favorite type of selection, the Golden Urn, which can easily be manipulated.
In his book Forging the Golden Urn, Max Oidtmann explained that it is only in 1995, that “China resurrected a Qing-era law mandating that the reincarnations of prominent Tibetan Buddhist monks be identified by drawing lots from a golden urn. The Chinese Communist Party hoped to limit the ability of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile to independently identify reincarnations.”
China would like to use a Golden Urn lottery which was first used in 1792, at a time the Tibetan State was extremely weak; forgetting that the Dalai Lama’s institution dates from the 15th century; further the Golden Urn was not used for the present pontiff.
Today, China is actively preparing for the post-Dalai Lama period.
On March 7, 2019, a panel discussion took place during the People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing; the Chinese-selected Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu presided. Apart from the young lama considered as ‘fake’ by the Tibetans, a few Lamas, mostly unknown to the Tibetans, met to discuss the future of Buddhism; it included, Dupkang Thupten Kedup, vice chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, Tsemonling, a former Regent of Tibet in his previous reincarnation, Gomangtsang Rinpoche, Rinchen Namgyal Rinpoche, from Qinghai province and Lodro Gyatso Rinpoche from Sakya Monastery. China would like these lamas to lead the process to find the next incarnation.
Incidentally, during the ‘sensitive’ month of March, the authorities organized mass rallies in Tibetan cities. According to Human Rights Watch, on March 7, thousands of armed police and other security forces from across the region gathered to pledge loyalty to the Party and its political objective of ‘comprehensive, long term stability’.
Ding Yexian, the Party’s Deputy Secretary responsible for law and order in Tibet, called on the people to “intimidate and terrify hostile forces and splittist forces, giving them nowhere to hide.”
This does not denote a compassionate Buddhist attitude.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Lamas who will select the Chinese 15th Dalai Lama

China is working hard to prepare the post-Dalai Lama era.

Interview with Reuters

In a recent interview with Reuters, pondering what might happen after his death, the Dalai Lama “anticipated some attempt by Beijing to foist a successor.”
The Tibetan leader jokingly told the news agency: “China considers Dalai Lama’s reincarnation as something very important. They have more concern about the next Dalai Lama than me,” but more seriously, he added: “In future, in case you see two Dalai Lamas, one from here [India], a free country, [and] one chosen by Chinese, then nobody will trust, nobody will respect [the one chosen by China]. So that’s an additional problem for the Chinese! It’s possible, it can happen.”
Beijing did not appreciate his point.
The Dalai Lama further commented: “If the majority of [Tibetan people] really want to keep this institution, then this institution will remain. …Then comes the question of the reincarnation of the 15th Dalai Lama.”
The Chinese Government was quick to counter; Geng Shuang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, immediately relayed by The Global Times, the Communist tabloid, stated: “The reincarnation of Living Buddhas, including the Dalai Lama, should abide by the laws and regulations of the state, as well as religious rituals and historical conventions.”

Wu Yingjie: "The Dalai Lama has not done a single good thing"
Buddhism and the Dalai Lama at the Center Stage in Beijing
During the recently-held 'Two Meetings', Tibetan Buddhism was at the centre stage of many discussions.
In an interaction with the Tibetan delegation to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), the Party Chief of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Wu Yingjie came down heavily on the Dalai Lama.
Wu said, "The Tibetan people have more affection for the government. The Dalai Lama has not done a 'single good thing' for Tibet since he left."
The Hong Kong newspaper also quoted Go Khok, deputy Party chief and mayor of Lhasa, as saying that maintaining stability would be a key task for the city government this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the departure of the Dalai Lama for exile.
According to the ‘political advisors’ who attended the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing beginning of this month, Buddhist religion is well-respected and well-preserved in Tibet.
China displayed a collection of Tibetan ‘Living Buddhas’ as the Communist atheists term the reincarnated lamas; all are known for their loyalty to the Communist Party.
Xinhua reported: “Chinese religious figures serving as political advisors at this year's ‘Two Sessions’ [or Two Meetings] are pleased with the country's protection of Tibetan Buddhism in southwest China's TAR.”
Several of the Tibetan lamas were quoted by the news agency.

The Use of Tibetan Lamas for Communist Propaganda
The use of ‘Living Buddhas’ for political purposes is not new, but it appears that it has intensified since the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) issued a State Order No.5 for the “Management Measures For the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism” in 2007 and the unrest on the plateau in 2008.
It is done in a very systematic way mainly in view of the hopefully not too soon, departure of the Dalai Lama and in preparation for his reincarnation.
I am compiled a list of the Communist ‘lamas’ who will be co-opted to find the Chinese reincarnation of the 15th Dalai Lama.

Phagpala Gelek Namgyal
Phagpala is presently the Vice-chairman of 13th CPPCC National Committee; he is also honorary president of Buddhist Association of China and chairman of CPPCC Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee.
The CPPCC’s vice-chairmanship gives him a Central Minister rank.
He was born in February 1940 in Litang, presently in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. He is known as the 11th Chamdo Phagpala Hutuktu, (Hutuktu is a Mongol title for a high incarnated lama).
He formerly served as a Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress, Vice Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and Vice President of the Buddhist Association of China; he was vice chairman of 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th and 12th CPPCC national committees.
He was one of the first Tibetans to join the Communist Party soon after the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950/51.
Incidentally, Phagpala is one of the senior member of the 'Chamdo Clique' as the reincarnation of the head lama of the Jampaling Monastery in Chamdo - he is also known as Chamdo Phakpalha.
Lobsang Gyaltsen, the head of the TAR Government, a member of the Central Committee, is also from Chamdo.
On March 14, 2013, Jampa Phuntsok, also from Chamdo, was appointed as Vice Chairman of the National People’s Congress.
At that time, Pema Thinley (alias Padma Choling) became Chairman of the TAR People’s Congress; further, he was the only ethnic Tibetan, seating as a full member in the 18th CCP’s Central Committee.
Phagpala, Jampa Phuntsok, Pema Thinley, and Lobsang Gyatsen are the highest ethnic Tibetan cadres in the Communist hierarchy in Tibet today; all from the Chamdo Prefecture.
It is also rumoured that they all support the Shugden cult, against the Dalai Lama.
Can you guess from where the Chinese 15th Dalai Lama will come from?

Gyaltsen Norbu, 11th Chinese Panchen Lama
This is the Panchen Lama ‘found’ by China.
He is presently Vice President of China Buddhist Association (BAC) and Member of the Standing Committee of the 13th CPPCC.
Gyatsen Norbu was born in Lhari County, Nagchu Prefecture on February 13, 1990.
On November 29, 1995, he was recognized by Beijing as the 11th Panchen Lama in front of the statue the Buddha Sakyamuni in the Jokhang cathedral in Lhasa. 
The Golden Urn was used; later the outcome was approved by the State Council.
He is the person who ultimately will 'recognize' the 15th Dalai Lama.

7th Drukhang Rinpoche Thubten Khedrup
He was born in December 1955 in Naqu. He joined the Party in July 1980.
He is presently the Vice Chairman of the TAR’s Political Consultative Conference, BAC’s Vice President, President of the Tibet Branch and Dean of the Tibetan Buddhist College.
He is regularly used by the Communist regime when senior Party cadres visit Tibet.
See The Ethnic Religious Faces of China.
See also China lacks 'Buddhist' credibility.

Tsomoling Rinpoche
Vice Chairman of the TAR’s Political Consultative Conference and BAC’s Vice President.
Tsemonling Tenzin Trinley Rinpoche was born in 1950 in Lhasa; he was one of the Four ‘Lings’, who from time to time acted as regents of Tibet (mostly when the Tibetan state was weak; particularly during the 19th century).
The Four 'Lings' (Ling Shi) were Kundeling, Demoling, Tsemonling and Tsechokling. They had their estates in Lhasa and around Lhasa.
Like his colleagues Reting, Phagphala or Dorje Phagmo, Tsemonling also  shoots for the Party from time to time.
Tsomonling has been a deputy in the National People’s Congress (NPC) from the 7th NPC (1988) to the 13th (2017).
He once declared that he was most impressed by the last report of Premier Wen Jiabao in the National People’s Congress. He found it inspiring and truth-reflecting. According to him, despite difficulties and challenges, the Chinese government has behaved well and there can be no development and innovation without Beijing’s support. This is what the Party wants to hear.
He has undertaken the task of re-carving (on wooden blocks) the Kangyur, which is a collection of Buddha’s sayings.
A few years ago, he spoke about self-immolation which, for him, is an insane act and violates Buddhist doctrine. He believed that the Xi Jinping's Chinese Dream is ‘related’ to the improvement of people’s livelihood, maintenance of social stability and steady economic development. Once again, the Lama is used by the Party to pass on its messages to the masses.
Also read A Battery of Rinpoche guns for China.

Drikung Chungtsang Rinpoche
The Drikung Kyabgön Chungtsang, the 36th throne holder of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage and the 8th reincarnation of the Chungtsang Rinpoche; he is said to be a manifestation of Manjushri.
He was born in the Water-Horse-Year 1942 in Lhokha as the youngest of five sons into the prominent aristocratic Lhagyari family, one of the oldest noble houses of Tibet descending from the ancient royal dynasty. The family branch is called Dewa Lhagyari Trichen.

Gomatsang Rinpoche, Lobsang Jampa Gyatso
He is from the important Labrang Tashikyl Monastery in Gansu; he is Vice President, Chinese Academy of Tibetan Buddhism.

Samding Dorjee Phagmo
Born in 1942, at the age of five, the Lady Lama was chosen as the incarnation of the abbess of Samding monastery, near Lhasa.
Deputy Director of the TAR’s Standing Committee of the People's Congress and Director of the China Tibet Cultural Protection and Development Association.
Dorje Phagmo was the only female reincarnation in Tibet.
In 2008, she declared that she was upset and angered by riots in Lhasa and accused the Dalai Lama of violating Buddhist teachings. She publicly affirmed that before Tibet’s incorporation into Communist China, Tibet was a backward feudal society. People were largely illiterate serfs with no medical care. The female ‘Living Buddha’ remembered that when she was a child, Tibet was dark and cruel; the so-called serfs lived worse than horses and cattle. Today, Tibet is transformed, thanks to the Party.
Her statement regarding Tibet needing to be ‘incorporated’ nonetheless shows that it was earlier a ‘separate’ entity.

After the unrest of 2008 and a few months before the Olympic Games, she was extensively used by the Party for propaganda. She was quoted as saying that the acts of the Dalai Lama and his followers seriously violate the basic teachings and precepts of Buddhism and damage traditional Tibetan Buddhism’s good reputation.

He is born in August 1967 in Drung Dechen District. He joined the Party in June 2016. He is currently the vice chairman of the Lhasa CPPCC Vice Chairman of the Lhasa CPPCC, Vice President of the TAR’s Buddhist Association, Vice President of the Lhasa City Buddhist Association and Executive Deputy Director of the Jokhang Temple Management Committee.
He was used by the Chinese propaganda during the 'Two Meetings' (see interview quoted below).

Jewan Koondor Tulku
67 year old tulku originally from Champa Ling Monastery in Chamdo which has strong Dorje Shugden connections and has been present at every CPPCC in last 15 years. When 8 years old, his parents took him and followed the Dalai Lama to India. He eventually ended up in Switzerland. In 2011 he returned to China. Today he was made Vice Chairman of the TAR Overseas Friendship Association.

7th Taksang Tulku,Garang Thubten Lashay Gyatso
The 51-year old Tibetan tulku is from Taksang Monastery in Dzoege, Ngaba county.
He was born in July 1967 in Sichuan province. He joined the Party in November 2006 after graduating from the Chinese Department of Tibetan Languages.
He is currently a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC and the president of the Ngaba Prefecture Buddhist Association.

3rd Shangen Tulku, Phalden Dorje
He was born in April 1949 in Litang, Eastern Tibet (today Sichuan province). The-69 year old Tibetan Rinpoche is Deputy Director of the Standing Committee of Garze Prefecture People's Congress, Deputy Director of the National Committee of the National Committee of the CPPCC.

Lobsang Samten Rinpoche
Vice Chairman of the CPPCC Ngari National Association, Honorary President of the Regional Buddhist Association, Rinpoche from Trugo monastery near Purang in Ngari prefecture.

Rinchen Namgyal
In 1994, he graduated from the Higher School of Tibetan Languages. He is currently the deputy chairman of the 12th Qinghai Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Consultation Conference, the vice president of the China Interpretation Association, and the deputy director of the National Tibetan Buddhism Teaching Committee, and the president of the Qinghai Provincial Interpretation Association.
On January 29, 2018, the 12th Committee of the CPPCC Qinghai Province was held for the first time; Rinchen Namgyal was elected Vice President of the Provincial Political Consultative Conference.

Lhodro Gyatso Rinpoche
He is the Executive Director of the Tibet Branch of the Buddhist Association, member of the TAR’s Political Consultative Conference, Vice President of the Buddhist Association of Shigatse City, and Executive Deputy Director of the Sakya Monastery People's Management Association.
On January 24, 2018, the 24th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th CPPCC National Committee, he was  appointed as a member of the 13th CPPCC National Committee.

17th Dongbo Jampa Tulku
He was born in December 1968 in Gyezur, Garze in Sichuan; he joined the Party in November 1983.

Dongbao Jampa Hutuktu, the 49-year old Tibetan tulku belongs to the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism; he has been recognized by Tai Situ Rinpoche in India.
He is presently the Deputy Head of the China Buddhist Association, Vice Chairman of the CPPCC’s Shangri-La County in Dechen Prefecture of Yunnan Province and the vice president of the China Interpretation Association.

The 7th Reting Rinpoche
Tough not seen in Beijing during the Two Meetings, another lama Beijing is banking upon is Reting Rinpoche.
In January 2013, a 16-year old boy, recognised by the Communist Party as the 7th Reting Rinpoche was made the youngest member of Tibet’s CPPCC.
The Fifth Reting was the Regent of Tibet during the minority of the present Dalai Lama.
See 'Reting and the Dalai Lama's Incarnations'.

Hu Xuefeng (Mongolian)
Hu is abbot of the Yonghe Temple, also known as the Lama Temple in Dongcheng District of Beijing, China. The building and artwork of the temple is a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan styles.
Though not Tibetan, Hu is very influential.
He was born in 1966 in the township of the Fuxin Mongolian Autonomous County. In 1981, he joined the Lama Temple and two years later was awarded a Masters degree.
In 1990, he was enrolled in the Senior High School of the Chinese Department of Tibetan Languages and in 1992, he graduated with honor. In 1994, he was elected as the deputy abbot of the Lama Temple. In January 2010, he was promoted to the abbot.
From 1995 to 2000, he was elected as the vice president of the Municipal Interpretation Association and the CPPCC member. In 2009, he was elected as the vice president of the Municipal Interpretation Association.

Beijing is trying its best to increase its control over the reincarnations of Tibetan lamas (and ultimately the Dalai Lamas), thus legitimising Communist rule in the Himalayan region. China has even revived the ancient title of Hutuktu, which was given by the Mongols and later the Manchus to Lama-rulers. Reting, like Pagphala, has also been styled as Hutuktu by Beijing.

Jamyang Shepa
Lamas like Jamyang Shape and Amchok Rinpoche should be added to this list.
Lobsang Jigme Thubten Chökyi Nyima, the present incarnation (the 6th) of the Jamyang Shepa, the head lama of the Labrang Tashikyl Monastery, in today’s Gansu province. He was born in 1948 and currently lives in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province. During the Cultural Revolution, Jamyang Shepa became a layman but retained a high degree of prestige in the area. The Jamyang Shepas have traditionally been the most prestigious teachers at Labrang Tashikhyil monastery.
The case of the Jamyang Shepa shows that the Chinese are keen to use the traditional hierarchy to put across their message.
In 2013, when Yu Zhengsheng of the Standing Committee of the Politburo visited Labrang, he met the Jamyang Shepa. At that time, Xinhua affirmed that the famous Monastery was 'one of the six great temples of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism', Yu was received by the Jamyang Shepa as the traditional head of the monastery.

Amchok Rinpoche
A recent returnee from Dharamsala.
According to The Global Times, Amchok Rinpoche (written Achok by the Chinese): “the living Buddha, returned to China in May [2015] and has settled down in the Aba [Ngawa] Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest China's Sichuan Province after he gained approval from Sichuan in April.” The Communist tabloid commented: “Move indicates futureless end of the Dalai Lama group”.
He may also play a role in finding the reincarnation …in China.

It seems that Beijing has now decided to bring forward its entire collection of ‘Living Buddhas’ to ‘spiritualize’ the Roof of the World; this, at a time when the Dalai Lama is working towards ‘secularising’ Tibetan society.
Moreover, their role will be to find the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama.

The Propaganda battle has started
One of the ‘political advisors’ mentioned above, Lhakpa spoke at length to Xinhua about the progress of the religious freedom and the Jokhang Temple, “in downtown Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet, is a must for visitors to Tibet and a sacred site for Tibetan Buddhists. It attracts about 800,000 tourists and receives over three million Buddhist followers each year.”
The Jokhang cathedral is “home to plenty of historical relics and typical Tibetan architecture. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000,” noted the agency.
Lhakpa is quoted saying that Beijing attaches “great importance to the protection and preservation of the temple. Five years ago, for example, the government invested over 60 million yuan (8.94 million U.S. dollars) in gilding the five golden roofs of the temple. The Buddha figures, thangka and murals in the temple have also been well preserved. To better protect these precious cultural relics, a database for Buddha statues and thangka in both Mandarin and Tibetan languages, launched in 2015, will be completed next year,” said Lhakpa.
According to the monk administrator, “more than 6,000 Buddha statues and over 600 thangka have been included in the database. The government has invested 100 million yuan in protecting the cultural relics."
Lhakpa concluded that as a political advisor, his job was “to serve all the people, including tourists, believers and researchers who visit the temple. We have personnel working 24/7 in the halls of the temple, including monks, firefighters and police officers to prevent the cultural heritage from being destroyed or stolen, and to ensure tourists' safety. …On the Lamp Festival, we have Dharma assembly here and the butter lamps are lit on top of the temple. Believers come to pray for happiness and health," he added.
It is clearly said that the monks’ duty is to serve the millions of Chinese tourists.
According to Lhakpa, like the Jokhang Temple, almost all the temples and monasteries in Tibet are under national or regional protection.
Incidentally, according to the official Tibet Daily, a fire broke out at 6:40 pm on February 17, 2018 in part of Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. It was eventually put off in the evening; the News Agency said: "Located at the center of old Lhasa, Jokhang Temple is a renowned temple for Tibetan Buddhism. It has a history of more than 1,300 years and houses many cultural treasures, including a life-sized statue of Sakyamuni when he was 12 years old."
This inauspiciously occurred on the second day of the Losar, the Tibetan New Year (Earth Dog Year).
During the Two Meetings, another ‘Living Buddha’, the Drigung Chungtsang stated that today's Tibet observes many traditional folk and religious activities: “The Shoton [yoghurt] festival at Drepung Monastery and the worship activities at Sera Monastery are among the most popular ones.”
The Drikung Lama added: "Tibetan Buddhists, young and old, would sway their praying wheels and chant sutras when significant activities are launched."
As vice chairman of the Tibet branch of the Buddhist Association of China, Drigung Rinpoche is in charge of the Kangyur printing: “The precious wooden templates of the Kangyur have been well preserved and printing is suspended in winter because cold weather may cause damage to the templates.”
Another ‘political advisor’ Lodro Gyatso, a senior monk from the Sakya Monastery told Xinhua that the monastery has two Buddhist colleges, “offering various classes including Tibetan language, Tibetan calligraphy, Buddhist texts, astronomy, calendrical calculation and philosophy to monks and lamas.”
A ‘returnee Living Buddha’ Jewan Koondhor is also one of ‘political advisors’. Xinhua noted that he spent most of his life outside (in Switzerland) and when he was 60 in 2011, he returned to his hometown, Chamdo in Tibet: “My hometown Chamdo has changed a lot and is continually improving. The traffic there today is much more convenient. I'm happy to be back," he told the agency.
He is a proponent of Shugden cult, and therefore violently anti-Dalai Lama.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The IAF hero awarded the Maha Vir Chakra Twice

Wing Commander Jag Mohan 'Jaggi' Nath receives his second Maha Vir Chakra
from President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
The second part of my interview with Wing Commander 'Jaggi' Nath The IAF hero awarded the Maha Vir Chakra Twice was published in

Here is the link...

Claude Arpi reveals how Wing Commander Jag Mohan Nath won a second Maha Vir Chakra in the 1965 War.

The Indian Air Force is in the news for the exploits of the anonymous Mirage-2000 pilots who conducted a raid on a terror camp in Pakistan.
The shooting down and subsequent three-day captivity of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who, with his Mig-21 Bison shot down a Pakistani F-16, also got a lot of coverage.
It is perhaps the right time to salute the feats of the first Indian military officer to be twice awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, India's second highest honour for gallantry.
After describing his sorties over Tibet in the first segment of an exclusive interview conducted at his Juhu, north west Mumbai home, Wing Commander Jag Mohan 'Jaggi' Nath describes to Claude Arpi his daylight missions over Pakistan during the 1965 War.
Wing Commander 'Jaggi' Nath reveals the background of the operation which led to his second MVC. Some explanations have been added in italics.

With Dr Zakir Hussain, then India's vice-president.
It started after Pakistan had already failed with Operation Gibraltar (external link) in August 1965 in Kashmir (Operation Gibraltar was the codename given to Pakistan's plan to infiltrate into and take control over Kashmir by starting a rebellion against India's rule), then Pakistan decided to start Operation Grand Slam,(external link) (a plan drawn up by the Pakistan army, in May 1965, to attack the vital Akhnur bridge in Jammu. The bridge was not only the lifeline of an entire infantry division posted in Jammu and Kashmir, but could also be used to threaten Jammu, the vital logistical hub for the Indian forces).
"The Pakistanis were given us a beating; the Indian tanks, though very close to Sialkot, were stopped. After Operation Gibraltar, I used to make daily sorties to see how the Pakistan forces were ositioned."
"The cameras we were using were so good we could read the number plates! We could see human beings, like with the U2 cameras (used by the Americans). Our cameras were really high resolution cameras.'
The soon--to-be-90 wing commander digresses for a moment: "Of course, the Americans could use their U2 or the SR71 (The Lockheed SR-71 'Blackbird' is a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the US air force). Can you imagine it was a plane faster than a bullet? It was an amazing plane."
"We had landed into problems in Akhnur; the Pakistanis tanks were coming in and giving us problems. I knew what was happening because I had daily runs; the problem in our army is that they are restricted by the orders of the government. The army chief (General J N Chaudhuri) had to get clearances (for a move); (in the air force), we did not have these problems."

To explain the issue, Wing Commander Nath shows me a picture of the then air chief -- later the Marshal of the Indian Air Force -- Arjan Singh with his arm around his shoulder. "He told me, 'You are my foster son'. I told him, 'If it was not for you, I would not be alive today'."
Wing Commander Nath refers to an Indian mole at air headquarters in Delhi. "One plane got shot down because of a compromise in security. Pakistan had prior notice of our plane flying over Pakistan on April 10, 1959."
In another interview, the wing commander recounted: 'In the IAF there was a mole, that too at a very senior level in the form of an officer in the Western Air Command who controlled all the flight movements of ours. He'd give Pakistanis all they wanted and that is how when our reconnaissance plane went over Pakistan on the morning of April 10, 1959, the pilot found the PAF Sabres actually waiting and obviously bombed him.
'When we found out, the officer, a Group Captain, was thrown out. This event helped us become tighter and more secretive.'

Wing Commander Jag Mohan Nath
receives his second Maha Vir Chakra
At that time, Arjan Singh had just taken over as acting Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) of the Western Air Command in Delhi.
After having explained why in 1965, he was getting his orders directly from Arjan Singh, the then chief of air staff, Wing Commander Nath returns to the operation. "All the requirements came from the army. Every time something would take place, Arjan Singh would say, 'Send reconnaissance, send reconnaissance'."
"Arjan Singh had given me a code name, 'Professor' and would directly assign to me missions."
"During the 1965 War, like in 1962, the sorties that we did every day gave us the entire picture (of the enemy's forces)."
"Every day, we would get a briefing and do sorties. We had a complete picture how the war was proceeding."
"I had a clear picture of what was going wrong anywhere on any front."

You were providing the information to whom? To B N Mallik, the Intelligence Bureau director, to the air chief?

The information was going directly to the army chief; in 1965, it was General J N Chaudhury.
While the operations were going on, the army chief used to send his requirements to the air force; (for example) how the Pakistanis were moving or if they were not.
It would have been difficult (to take decisions) without knowing what was going on the other side of the border, how the Pakistanis were progressing.
There was no other way to get this information, but from the records of the reconnaissance planes.
Pakistani foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the army chief had planned Operation Gibraltar; (at the beginning) they finished off so many of our Vampires that we had no option but to bring our air force (in the war).
It was the time Nur Khan was brought in. (Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan was the commander-in-chief of the Pakistan air force. During the war with India in 1965, Nur Khan was credited with temporarily turning the tide of the war in Pakistan's favour, at least in the first 24 hours).

With Yashwantrao B Chavan, India's defence minister
In Pathankot, the top brass of the army and air force was there, they said: "We want a reconnaissance from the north, from Lahore and then Sargodha (in Pakistan Punjab), to the south."
Do you understand that I had to operate in day time? I could not do reconnaissance and take pictures at night. I had to fly low to avoid the radar and my target was 15 to 20 miles.
Usually, I used to build up my speed, convert into height, go at 12,000 feet (to take the picture)and was staggering around.
I had 5 to 10 minutes at the most. Later, I would come back (to India).
It was not enough time for the radar to activate anything. For so many years, I did this particular exercise.
But I could not do this for this particular reconnaissance for the second front the army wanted to open.
I told them: "How can I fly for 30, 35 or 40 minutes doing this business?" If I had broken it into small (shorter) sorties, this would be alright, but it was not what I was asked for.
When I finally did it and as I was heading back towards India, I told my navigator, "We go back to India now, we have taken the picture."
I got a warning on my tail radar. The tail radar of the Camberra picks things 15 miles away. You know exactly where the other plane is going to shoot you down.
The navigator said "Sir, I saw a black spot (in the radar)." I told him, "Never mind, if it comes closer, some 5 miles away, call me up."
I thought it would be from this distance that they would launch their missile.
Starfighters needed 5 to 10 seconds to log into the heat source and then shoot its missile. With less time than this, it has no time (to adjust the target).
It means that I have been on the move and not remained steady for more than 10 or 15 seconds.
And suddenly another spot (on the radar), and then another one; total four planes (behind us)!
I don't have any time to think. I improvised, I started barrel rolls. You do loop like this (demonstrates with gesture) it is called a barrel roll.

(A barrel roll is an aerial maneuver in which an airplane makes a complete rotation on both its longitudinal and lateral axes, causing it to follow a helical path, approximately maintaining its original direction. It is sometimes described as a combination of a loop and a roll).

That way I headed towards India.
I was caught by Indian radar. My friend Wing Commander (Krishna) Dandapani (Commanding Officer of the 203 Signal Unit in Amritsar) was not even informed, as the orders had been given to me at such a short notice.
Dandapani was on his toes; he said: 'Five airplanes are coming". He thought they were all Pakistani planes.
Remember that I been in the air for some 30 minutes already. So, Dandapani sees five planes coming and suddenly four going away.
He thought there was still one Pakistani plane. The Pakistani was me.
And then, my navigator tells me: "There is another airplane coming".
I said: "But we are in our country".
So I started doing a curve, I didn't need to do barrel turns; the difference between a fighter plane and a Canberra is the latter can do tighter turns while fighter planes have to do larger turns.
It was difficult to shoot me down while turning. So they missed me and overshot (our plane). At that time, they saw the Indian marking.
They called the airfield and told them: "This airplane is ours, how can we shoot him down?"
The control tower in Pathankot confirmed: "Yes, it is our plane; he has taken off from Pathankot and has to land there". They had just realised.
With all these exercises, I run out of bloody fuel. My gauge said 'zero' and I had no other option but to land in Pathankot.
The air control said: "No, you can't land, there are planes landing in a row from Akhnur (front)."
I said "I will land between two of them".
And as I landed one of my engines copped out.
Can you imagine such a flight!
And the information which came out of it was so vital!

'Jaggi' Nath on top of a PR Canberra with various other members
of 106 Squadron (Courtesy Bharat Rakshak)

The army (authorities) could find a place called Barki to launch a counter-attack (Barki is a village that lies south-east of Lahore near the border with Punjab, India, and is connected with Lahore by the bridge over the Ichogil canal).
Later, the Indian Army withdrew by itself and the Pakistanis reinforced the place.

(The Battle of Burki (or Barki) was fought by Indian infantry and Pakistani armour in the 1965 War. The battle resulted in an Indian victory after the army captured the town on September 11, 1965. After the capture of Burki, the Indian advance continued towards Dograi, a town in the immediate vicinity of Lahore. No attempt was made to capture Lahore.)

But my flight gave them the information exactly where to go.
One particular flight gave them (the Indian Army) so much information.
You were awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for the second time for that?
The first MVC was awarded on January 1, 1962.
Though the war had not started, the reconnaissance had started, and the bar (the second MVC) was granted in September 1965.
I was the first officer of the armed forces to be awarded the MVC twice.
In 1965, General Sparrow got a bar and then four bars were given in 1971. (Major General Rajinder Singh, MVC**, nicknamed 'Sparrow' was awarded the MVC for his role during the War of 1947 and for displaying gallantry in the War of 1965).

I feel two Maha Vir Chakras should be equal to one Param Vir Chakra. It is not a joke to have two MVCs, but the government does not agree.

The Citation for the Bar to the MVC

Sqn Ldr Jag Mohan Nath, Award Date: September 1, 1965
During the Indo-Pak War 1965, Sqn Ldr Nath was again the Flight Commander with the Strategic Photo Reconnaissance Squadron flying the Canberra aircraft.
He led his unit several times over the hostile territory to obtain vital information about the enemy.
The unescorted missions, which were in the nature of reconnaissance, entailed flying long distances over the enemy territory and well-defended airfields and installations during day light.
Sqn Ldr Nath was fully aware of the risk he was running on each of these missions. Still, he chose to undertake the risky missions himself.
It was after great persuasion that he allowed his colleagues to do some risky assignments. The information gathered by him during his missions proved vitally important to Indian air effort.
The missions enabled our Air Force to attack vital enemy targets and this adversely affected enemy's war effort. Sqn Ldr Nath was awarded Bar to Mahavir Chakra for displaying courage, determination and devotion to duty.

I am grateful to Jagan Pillarisetti of for his suggestions/clarifications.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Know your history

My article Know your history appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer

Here is the link...

If we want to win the battle of information or perception like China, then we need to restore the Historical Division in the MEA or let MOD set up a comparative cell

With the country approaching the General Elections, one rarely comes across good news. However, the “transformative” reforms, soon to be undertaken by the Ministry of Defence, are an encouraging sign that a few things in India are changing. According to PTI, the idea is “to make the 1.3 million-strong force leaner and meaner as well as  enhance its combat capabilities.”
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has approved the first batch of reforms, which include relocation of 229 officers from the Army headquarters to operational postings, reorganisation of the Army Headquarters and the setting up of new wings for vigilance and human rights issues. Particularly interesting is the creation of a post of Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (Strategy) or DCOAS, which will deal with military operations, military intelligence and operational logistics. Then there will be a new information warfare wing “in keeping with the needs of the future battlefield, hybrid warfare and social media reality.”
The Modi sarkar finally realised that the war of tomorrow will be “hybrid”— “unrestricted warfare” in Chinese terminology — and primarily needs a change of mindset. The Chinese understood this long back. In 2003, China’s Central Military Commission approved the concept of “Three Warfares” — one, the coordinated use of strategic psychological operations; two, overt and covert media manipulation; and three, legal warfare designed to manipulate strategies, defence policies and perceptions of the target audience abroad.
Further, on November 23, 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a new plan to completely change the face of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Apart from the three traditional Services (Ground Forces, Air Force and Navy), a Rocket Force and more importantly a Strategic Support Force were set up.
Remember the Doklam incident of 2017, where India won a battle on the ridge in western Bhutan by not allowing China to change the status quo and build a strategic road near the trijunction between Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan? But Delhi lost another battle. That of the legitimacy of its claim. While everyone in India applauded the forces, which prevented the construction of the road, Delhi was unable to articulate the background of the standoff although it had strong legal and historical arguments. At the same time, the Chinese repeatedly quoted a 1890 Convention between Great Britain and the Manchus. The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing vociferously managed to convince the Indian media posted in Beijing that it was a valid basis for the Chinese action at the trijunction.
The fact that in 1890, the main stakeholders, Tibet and Sikkim and Bhutan, were not even consulted, made it an “unequal” treaty without validity (in any case, the survey of the trijunction was done only several decades after the agreement was signed).
The Convention of 1890 proved to be of no use to the British as Tibet never recognised it; this eventually led London to directly “deal” with Lhasa, send the Younghusband expedition there in 1904 and open the doors to the tripartite Simla Convention between British India, Tibet and China sitting on an equal footing in 1914. Since India did not object to the argument behind the 1890 Convention, it meant that the subsequent treaties signed with the Tibetans, particularly the Simla Convention and the border agreement (defining the McMahon Line) in 1914 would have no validity; as a result India would lose its defined border in the Northeast.
The main factor which has led to losing the battle of information is the lack of a Historical Division in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). While the Ministry of Defence gets ready to undertake bold reforms, the MEA seems lethargic (at least for an external eye). It is difficult indeed to imagine today the MEA looking at its failure and taking initiative to reform its functioning; it seems beyond the capacity of the mandarins of South Block.
In May 2016, a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs had suggested expanding the manpower in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), providing lateral entry into the IFS and organising a separate exam for the service. All this is fine, but what about reviving the defunct Historical Division?
How can a modern State,  which wants to be a “Great Power,” function without a Historical Division to which these types of issues (such as the historical background of the trijunction) can be referred for clarifications and advice, is beyond comprehension.
In the early years after Independence, the Nehru government established a Historical Division with S. Gopal (President Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan’s son) as its first head. Shivshankar Menon, a former foreign secretary and national security advisor, in a book review of Gopal’s Collected Essays explained: “For reasons I find incredible and incomprehensible, the Historical Division was wound up by the MEA in the nineties … some of our present difficulties may indeed be due to a lack of memory.” Today, the MEA has just a Boundary Cell headed by a Lieutenant Colonel, while it should be looked by a Joint Secretary-rank officer (or may be a Major General with intimate ground knowledge of the boundary).
Why was the Historical Division closed in the first place? It seems that in the 1990s, an all-knowing diplomat believed that it was not necessary. Is there a resource base  today with the will and the capacity to tackle such a thorny issue today?
For the Ministry of Defence, the best would be to forget about the MEA and reorganise itself to bring together all historical records in a well-organised manner (a place where documents would be available when required for operations, public information or other purposes), while keeping a strict classification process.
To keep these records, the Ministry would have to employ a team of professional historians, recruited through lateral entry and who would be given the necessary security clearance (with the punishment it entails if the rules are bent …for illicit photocopies for journalists “seeking the truth”). This move would allow a centralisation of all the historical records kept in different MOD departments. The Directorate of History and Records (or whatever name the Office is given) would make historical documents or notes available to the DCOAS (Strategy) or any other officer requiring them.
It would have an added advantage, the MEA may be able to wake up and decide to recreate its Historical Division.  This “reform” could greatly enhance the capacity of the defence forces to fight the hybrid war of tomorrow.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

A Popular Revolt Suppressed in Blood

My article A Popular Revolt Suppressed in Blood appeared in Strategic News International

Here is the link...

The origin of the Tibetan luni-solar calendar, composed of either 12 or 13 lunar months, each beginning and ending with a new moon, is not clear. However, many scholars attribute the 60-year cycle to India; it would have been introduced into Tibet by Chandranath and Tsilu Pandit in 1025 CE. The calendar’s main characteristic is that, like the Chinese zodiac, twelve animals are associated with the five elements, making it a cycle of six decades.
Recently we entered the Earth/Boar Year; it is worth remembering the momentous events which took place during the previous Earth/Boar Year when the Roof of the World witnessed a popular revolt.
Early March 1959, the Dalai Lama had been invited to a theatrical performance in the Chinese Army camp in Lhasa; in his memoirs the Tibetan leader recalled that on March 8, 1959, some Chinese officers called on his Bodyguard Regiment’s Commander to brief him about the function: “the Chinese authorities wanted us to dispense with the usual formality and ceremony of my visits.” No Tibetan soldiers were to accompany the Dalai Lama: “only two or three unarmed bodyguards if absolutely necessary;” the Chinese wanted “the whole affair to be conducted in absolute secrecy.”
Though the Dalai Lama accepted to go “with a minimum of fuss and to take along only a handful of staff,” it was not acceptable to the population of Lhasa. On March 10, while walking in his Summer Palace (Norbulinka or Jewel Park) the Dalai Lama heard loud noises at a distance, people “were pouring out of Lhasa and heading in our direction. They had decided to come and protect me from the Chinese. All morning their numbers grew. …By noon an estimated thirty thousand people had gathered” …it was the entire population of the Tibetan capital.
Apart from the Dalai Lama’s version, we have the first-hand account written by Major SL Chhibber, the Indian Consul General in Lhasa.
Sixty years later, reading these accounts, one is struck by the fact that March 10 ‘Uprising’ (as the Tibetans call it), was primarily a people’s movement like the Bastille Day in 1789 in France. It was an entirely spontaneous revolt with its origin in the resentment of the ‘masses’ against the occupiers.
In his report to the Ministry of External Affairs, Chhibber wrote: “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 openly challenged the Chinese rule in Tibet. They set up an organisation called Pho Mimang Ranchen Chi Chog, meaning, ‘Tibetan Peoples Independent Organisation’; [they] 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.”
Unfortunately on March 20, the PLA started “an all-out offensive against the ill-organised, ill-equipped, untrained-Tibetans with artillery, mortars, machine guns and all types of automatic weapons, [it] was short lived.”
A few thousand Tibetans lost their lives during the next few days.
Chhibber continued his description of the events: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama, smelling danger, left Lhasa secretly on the night of the March 17, 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.”
The rest is history. The Dalai Lama crossed the Indian border, north of Tawang on March 31 and was received by Indian officials who gave him a letter from Prime Minister Nehru, welcoming him …as a refugee.
The popular movement had started in 1955 in Kham province of Eastern Tibet and had spread to the North in Amdo and Golok regions: “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 numbers of monasteries were destroyed and the local people suffered heavy losses,” explained Chhibber.
In March 1959, the Tibetan ‘masses’ (a term so dear to Mao Zedong), “thought it was high time for a general uprising. The Chinese did not sit quiet. …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 …stored rations and dig wells on their promises and increased the strength of their troops considerably in and around Lhasa.”
Chhibber commented: “The feelings were running very high against the Chinese and the public was restless and any excuse would have served to mobilize them.”
In conclusion of his March Report, the Indian Consul wrote: “The future of Tibet is dark and only a miracle can save Tibet from the clutches of the Chinese Communist Colonialists.”
Sixty years later, no miracle has taken place, though the Dalai Lama’s escape triggered the first clashes with China on the Indian border a few months later.
There is another twist to the story; since 2009, China celebrates March 28, the bloody end of the revolt in Lhasa, as the Serfs Emancipation Day; on that day, the Communist 'reforms' could finally be implemented on the Roof of the World. The Tibetan government was declared 'illegal' by Communist China as the so-called serfs had been liberated from feudalism and theocracy guns.
It is sadly ironic as the March 1959 revolt was only the Tibetan masses' reaction against the occupiers.
Unfortunately, sixty years later, the 1959 ‘uprising’ has been forgotten and politically, the Dalai Lama is more isolated than ever; no nation being ready to antagonize China, which has become the second most-powerful nation of the world …and is dreaming to become the most powerful.
It is worth quoting from another Indian officer, RS Kapoor posted as the Trade Agent in Gyantse in 1959; he told Delhi: “While the heart of Tibet was bleeding the free world only made speeches. With the end of the debate on Tibet in the United Nations, Tibetans lost all hopes of their survival, stare at the sky with blank eyes and ask, where is the Buddha? How can the world witness such brutal acts on a race that has always wanted to live in peace?”
Interestingly, in January 1957, while on a visit to India, Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier had pointed a finger at non-existing foreigners in Lhasa: “those bent on trouble are preparing for an incident in Lhasa. These people have some armed forces. Some three temples in Lhasa have also armed forces and they want to create an incident with the People's Liberation Army there. If it happened, then there would be bloodshed.”
And bloodshed there was, but it firmly consolidated the position of the Communist regime which still controls the restive nation with an iron hand.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A Playbook for the New Great Game?

Another review of my Volume 2 entitled A Playbook for the New Great Game? by Thubten Samphel, an independent researcher and former director of the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI), appeared on the  and TPI website .

Here is the link...

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