Monday, September 20, 2021

Liu Lin sent up to Urumqi

Lt Gen Liu Lin, commander XMD
According to Caixin, Maj Gen Liu Lin, formerly commander of South Xinjiang Military Region/District (SXMD) has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and to the grade of deputy commander of a Theater Command.

Caixin noted: “A military cadre by training, he has served in the Xinjiang Military Region/District (XMD) for a long time and participated in two major military parades.”

Liu Lin is known in India for having been the interlocutor of the 14 Corps Commander in Moldo/Chushul in Ladakh during the 12 rounds of talks following the Chinese incursions in several places in Ladakh; Liu Lin headed the Chinese delegation.

Liu Lin’s promotion means that the Central Military Commission (read Xi Jinping, its Chairman) is happy with the way that he dealt with India.
Xinhua added: “Long-serving Xinjiang Military Region commander Liu Lin has recently been promoted to the grade of deputy of the Theater Commander (‘War Zone’) and to the rank of lieutenant general (two-star).

According to Xinjiang News and Xinjiang Daily, the autonomous region (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or XUAR) held a ‘work meeting’ on September 18 to implement the spirit of the 8th National Conference on Counterpart Support to Xinjiang.
Liu Lin attended the meeting, along with two 19th Central Committee alternate members, Wang Junzheng, deputy secretary of the Xinjiang Party Committee and party secretary of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and Ayrken Tuniyaz, member of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Party Committee and vice chairman of the XUAR.

Liu Lin himself is not part of the Central Committee …as yet.
He may soon be nominated to the XUAR's Standing Committee too.

Footage from Xinjiang News Network showed Liu Lin wearing a lieutenant leneral's uniform and a six-row, one-star seniority badge, indicating that he has been promoted to the rank of deputy ‘War Zone’ (Theater Command).

Gen Wang Haijiang (before his promotion)

“Gen Liu Lin previously served as commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region (SXMD) and has held several military commander-level talks with the Indian side since the Sino-Indian border conflict in 2020”, noted Xinhua.
The Indian negotiators in Ladakh (the 14 Corps commander) will now face a new commander during the 13th round of talks in Moldo/Chushul.

An artillery man, Lt Gen Liu participated in Zurihe military parade on 2017 as leader of the self-propelled artillery team.

Importantly for India, both Lt Gen Liu Lin, the new XMD commander and Gen Wang Haijiang, who is the commander of the Western Theater Command (based in Chengdu), looking after the Tibet and Xinjiang borders, have an in-depth knowledge of the Indian frontiers and the Indian forces opposite the People’s Liberation Army in these areas.

Gen Wang Haijiang who was recently promoted to full general (three-star) by Xi Jinping, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, was posted in Tibet (TMD) in 2016 as deputy commander, then as commander, before being transferred on April 1, 2021 to Urumqi as XMD commander (a post now occupied by Liu Lin) and in August he was promoted to the rank of general to take charge of the WTC.

Gen Liu Lin Resume

Liulin (Lieutenant General)
Commander of the Xinjiang Military Region of the Chinese People's Liberation Army
Term of office: September 2021-present

Personal Information
Gender: Male
Born: 1964
Nationality: People's Republic of China
Political Party: Communist Party of China Communist Party of China
Military rank: Lieutenant General of the Chinese People's Liberation Army

Lieutenant General Liu Lin served in the Xinjiang Military Region for a long time, serving successively as commander of the 8th Division of the Xinjiang Military Region, chief of staff of the South Xinjiang Military Region, deputy commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region and commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region
He now been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General

Gen Wang Haijiang's promotion last month (behind Xi)



Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Importance of Tibet – ‘Ethnic Work’ in Progress

My article The Importance of Tibet – ‘Ethnic Work’ in Progress has been published on the Chanakya Forum website.

Here is the link...

Why are Members of the politburo of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee so attracted by Tibet these days? During the last two months, ten out of the twenty-five members of the politburo travelled to the Roof of the World.

One remembers a Party Secretary, who later became Chinese President (and General Secretary of the CPC), who during his three years posting in Tibet tried his best to avoid to fly to Lhasa; the young Hu Jintao did not like the place. He once told a journalist that he “disliked Tibet’s altitude, climate and lack of culture”. During his tenure, he shuttled between Lhasa and Beijing where the real power was; there was a common joke about Hu amongst Tibetan cadres: ‘Where is Hu?’ The answer was: ‘Hu is in Beijing Hospital.’ He often reported sick each time he was going to leave Beijing!

That was some thirty years ago.

Today, ‘important’ cadres have to make sure that they are seen in Tibet.

Xi Jinping Visit to Nyingchi and Lhasa

The ‘Emperor’ himself, the ‘Core Leader’, Xi Jinping paid an ‘inspection tour’ of Central and Southern Tibet between July 21 and 23; it was his first visit to Lhasa after a gap of ten years, though he had visited the Northeastern province of Amdo (today Qinghai) in June.

Five members of the Politburo accompanied the General Secretary (concurrently serving as Chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission).

It is interesting to look at Xi’s delegation; the composition of a delegation is a clear indicator of the purpose of the ‘inspection tour’, especially in a system where the information is entirely monitored by the State and where watchers are left to read signs.

Xi’s Delegation from Beijing

First, Ding Xuexiang, CPC’s General Secretary and a Secretary of the Party Secretariat; he usually accompanies Xi on his visits/inspection tours. His role is to make sure that decisions are implemented and that there is a concrete follow-up.

Also regularly seen during Xi’s tours is Liu He, Vice-Premier and member of the Politburo. Liu further serves as Director of the Office of the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission. Liu He is Xi’s trusted lieutenant, who has several times been used to fill up the ‘perception’ gap between China and the US. He takes care of the financial aspects of the visit.

Yang Xiaodu is the Director of the National Supervisory Commission and also Deputy Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) which makes sure that everybody follows the line of the Party. We shall see in a few months if a few heads roll; if it happens, Yang’s hand will certainly be behind.

Incidentally, during his early political career, Yang served several years in Tibet (1986-1992, Deputy Commissioner, Nagchu Prefecture; 1992-1995, Deputy Secretary, Chamdo, 1998-2001, vice-chairman, TAR government); Yang knows Tibet well, having served fifteen years.

One noted the absence of another Politburo member and old Tibet hand: Hu Chunhua; the Vice Premier was not on board for the visit. He had served in Tibet from 1983 to 2007 and is the only member of the Politburo who can fluently speak Tibetan. Probably, the emperor does not like to be in the shade.

Then Chen Xi, also a member of the politburo and head of the Organization Department and like Xi Jinping a graduate from Tsinghua University (they know each other since that time). Chen is President of the Central Party School and Vice-minister of Education and Vice Chairman of the China Association for Science and Technology. Xi clearly wants to bring modernity …to the borders with India.

The presence of General Zhang Youxia, Vice-Chairman, Central Military Commission (CMC), also member of the politburo is explained by the ‘important’ meeting between the CMC Chairman (Xi) and all the officers of the Tibet Military District (TMD), including the Commander and the Political Commissar of the Western Theater Command or WTC (based in Chengdu) which had a new Commander, Gen Xu Qiling. The WTC not only looks after Tibet but also the Ladakh front (incidentally Gen Xu Qiling lost his job since then, but we shall come back to this).

The CMC Chairman was certainly briefed in detail about the borders with India when he met the top brass of the Theater Command.

To this list of six members of the politburo, one should add He Lifeng, Minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the equivalent of our Planning Commission. His presence means that a number of large projects, including the railway line between Lhasa and Chengdu and the Giga hydropower plants on the Yarlung Tsangpo will soon be undertaken. Xi was personally explained the implications of these projects while on the banks of the mighty river, which becomes the Siang and the Brahmaputra in India.

The People’s Daily resumed the tour’s objectives: “implement the Party’s strategy for governing Tibet in the new era and write a new chapter in long-term stability and high-quality development of the snow-covered plateau.” This refers to the 7th Work Forum held in August 2020 which defined the development policies for Tibet for the five next years, particularly the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism.

But undoubtedly, the emphasis was the military and economic development of the borders with India. An indication: in the Annual Report presented by the Tibet Autonomous Region’s government a few months earlier, the word ‘border’ was mentioned 54 times, while ‘Dalai Lama’ only once.

Xi Jinping wants to change the organization of the border for good; we shall see how.

Visit of Wang Yang in Tibet

But that was not all; on August 19, a central delegation led by Wang Yang, a member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) arrived in Lhasa to attend the 70th anniversary functions. Wang is No 4 in the Communist pantheon.

One can ask, why not celebrate the so-called liberation when the ‘Core leader’, Xi Jinping visited Tibet in July. I have no answer to this.

Wang had been ‘entrusted’ by Xi Jinping to “lead Beijing officials in Tibet along with veteran senior Tibetan officials” to Tibet; a cohort of old Tibetan collaborators was honoured by the visiting VVIP.

Wang Yang was accompanied by Admiral Miao Hua, a CMC member, who will probably be the lone uniformed member to survive when the term of the present CMC comes to an end. It was the first visit of a three-star admiral in Tibet.

Did Wang and Miao knew that a few days later, Xi would change the commander of the Western Theater Command for the third time in nine months and Xu Qiling, who had met Xi a few weeks earlier, would be replaced by General Wang Haijiang, a former commander of the Tibet Military Region. Probably not.

The visit has also to be seen in the context of the CPC’s 100th anniversary and the 70th anniversary of the so-called Liberation of Tibet (read ‘invasion’).

Three more important visits

From September 2 to 4, Li Xi, Party Secretary of Guangdong and Ma Xingrui, Governor of the same wealthy province, visited Lhasa and Nyingchi “to earnestly study and implement the important speeches and instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s inspection tour …[and] implement the spirit of the Central Ethnic Work Conference.”

Guangdong province economically helps Tibet, which for decades was considered remote and backward and out of range for modernization. The instability of the restive province and the importance of the border with India have changed all this.

From September 5 to 6, Cai Qi, also a politburo member and Beijing Party Secretary “led a Beijing delegation to Tibet to research counterpart support work and further promote exchanges and cooperation between Beijing and Tibet,” said a release.

The delegation wanted to “conscientiously implement the spirit of important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech on his inspection of Tibet and a series of important instructions on Tibetan work and counterpart support work, and implement the spirit of the Central Ethnic Work Conference.”

Finally, Wang Chen, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, was in Tibet from September 5 to 8 to be sure that the region had “a firm sense of Chinese national community” and to preach “for long-term stability and high-quality development of the snowy plateau.”

Ten visits of politburo’s members (plus two CMC members) have never been seen in the past.

Ethnic Work

Two words explain this new interest in Tibet: Ethnic Work.
This word has an ominous meaning. It practically means ‘sinicization’ of the Roof of the World, which includes building new ‘mixed’ villages on the Indian border, recruiting a large number of Tibetans in the PLA, and giving Chinese characteristics to Tibetan Buddhism.

On September 1, Xinhua had reported that the Central Party School started its Fall Training Class for Young and Middle-Aged Cadres. It was attended by Xi who gave an ‘important’ speech (his speeches are always ‘important’).

Xi recommended that cadres have a fighting spirit in the current situation; he said that at the present moment, “the world’s unprecedented changes have been accelerating and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has arrived at a critical period. The risks and challenges that the CCP faces have increased significantly. It is impractical to dream of always living in a peaceful environment without taking on any struggles.”

He advised the young cadres: “dare to fight … at any time, Communists should have the bones and courage not to be afraid of anything, and not to yield to anyone.”

All this is quite ominous for India’s Northern borders.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Mingling like the Pomegranate Seeds

On June 8, China’s Core Leader Xi Jinping visited Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province. Meeting a group of Tibetan villagers relocated in one of the Xiaogang villages (‘moderately well-off’ villages, looking more like ghettos), the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) told the Tibetan villagers: “the Chinese nation was closely united like the seeds of a pomegranate. We are all members of the community of the Chinese nation.”
We shall never know if the Tibetans agreed …but they had to clap, wave red flags and smile.
This was not the first time that Xi used this expression to talk about ‘ethnic unity’ in China, a country which is supposed to have 56 different minorities.
Already after the Second Xinjiang Work Forum held in Beijing on May 28 and 29, 2014, which was attended by the entire Politburo and over three hundred top CCP’s officials, Xinhua asserted: “The Party's strategy on Xinjiang has been proven correct and must be continued in the long run.”
A commentator in The China Brief of the Jamestown Foundation noted: “Yet, beneath the boilerplate, the language and policy direction outlined in the Forum statement marks a significant departure. Since the 18th Party Congress [in November 2012], Party officials have stressed that ‘new conditions’ in Xinjiang create ‘new requirements’.”
We know what happened to Xinjiang during the following years (and what still happens today).
During the Forum, Xi Jinping declared: “Xinjiang’s most sustained problem is the problem of ethnic unity,” he continued: “all ethnic groups should show mutual understanding, respect, tolerance and appreciation, and to learn and help each other, so they are tightly bound together like the seeds of a pomegranate."
In May 2016, Xi visited a Hezhe ethnic village in northeastern Heilongjiang Province. The Hezhe is one of the smallest ethnic minority groups in China; in 1990 their population was 4,300; they are nomads who live mainly from hunting and fishing in the plain formed by the Heilong, Songhua and Wusuli rivers. Their language is said to belong to the Manchu-Tungusic group.
Xi again told them that “all ethnic groups shall remain closely united like the pomegranate seeds on the way toward national rejuvenation.”
What does it mean ‘ethnic unity’ for large (like Tibetans or Uyghur) or smaller minority groups?
In most of the cases, it means assimilation under a Han majority.
Since 1949, Han Chauvinism has heralded doom for the Chinese minorities.
Again, in January 2017, in a letter to an Uygur family, Xi again asked “all ethnic groups to unite like the pomegranate seeds under the CPC leadership to build a bright future for Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.”
Xi also used this expression during an inspection of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in 2019.
But let us take a very concrete example of the delegates from Tibet to the 13th National People’s Congress to find out if ethnic equality really exists in China today. Out of 20 members, the ‘Tibet’ delegation has 6 Chinese Hans, three big shots nominated by Beijing, Zhao Kezhi, Minister of Public Security, member of Political and Legal Commission, China’s Cop no 1; Jing Hanchao, member of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, equivalent to a Supreme Court judge and Guo Qingping, Chairman of People’s Bank of China (for the finances, I presume). Among ‘local’ Hans (also nominated by Beijing) are Wu Yingjie, Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Maj Gen Liu Guorong, TAR Commander of the People’s Armed Police.
Is it what China meant by ‘unity’, considering that the Tibetan delegates are mostly nameless individuals, selected (by Beijing) for their love for the Party only?
It is doubtful if the senior Chinese ‘Tibet’ representatives really ‘mingle’ like pomegranate seeds with their Tibetan colleagues.
Let us look at the ethnic minorities in the delegation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and PAP to 19th Congress help in October 2017.
Out of 2280 delegates, only 11.5% (262) were from ethnic minorities. The PLA/PAP has 303 delegates, the Manchus and Tibetans have three delegates each, while the Uyghur, Hui and Tujia have two representatives, while the Zhuang, Xibe, Korean, Qiang, Bai and Naxi ethnicities have one.
Two of the three Tibetan delegates are two young lady officers (Kalsang and Sonam Dolma); their qualification/rank is unknown, but obviously low.
Further, there is no ‘minority’ member in the Politburo and out of 204 members of the Central Committee (CC), the PLA has 41 members, all Hans while among the civilians, a few minorities are represented: Hui (2), Kazakh (1), Manchu (3), Miao (1), Mongol (3), Tibetan (2), Uyghur (2), Xibe (1) and Zhuang (2).
What does ‘ethnic unity’ mean in these conditions?
The article of The China Brief already mentioned said: “Since coming to power, Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed the importance of forging a shared national identity. The ‘China dream’, he contends, is foremost about the great revival of the ‘Chinese nation’ or ‘Chinese race’, a term first coined by Liang Qichao in 1902 and employed by Chinese leaders from Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong to Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin in order to stress the conjoined history, fate and consanguinity of the Chinese people.”
This does not convince the Tibetans.
Chen Quanguo, a former Party Secretary in Tibet, who in 2016 was sent to Xinjiang to ‘pacify the province’ (he was promoted to the politburo in the process) started promoting inter-marriage between Tibetans and Hans before his transfer. Later the same policy of “mingling' and fusing through increased contact, cooperation and intermarriage”, was encouraged in Xinjiang.
Till recently it remained minimal in Tibet; analysts believed that it was doubtful if the new policy of 'mingling' or 'fusing' could work on the Roof of the World, with too many decades of suspicion, not to say hatred, between the 'ethnic' populations and the 'occupiers'.
But things are quickly changing, especially after the Seventh Tibet Work Forum held in August 2020 in Beijing.
Already on January 11, 2020, during the Third Session of the TAR Eleventh People's Congress, some Regulations on the Establishment of a Model Area for the Progress of Ethnic Unity and Progress in the TAR, were adopted.
The first article promotes “the cause of national unity and progress in an all-round way, to consolidate and develop the socialist ethnic relations of equality, solidarity, mutual assistance and harmony;” it says: “In keeping with the awareness of the Chinese Nation Community, Tibet will be established as a model area for the national unity and progress of the nation.”
These regulations are said to have been formulated in accordance to the Chinese Constitution, the Law of the People's Republic of China on Regional Autonomy and taking into account the realities of the Autonomous Region. But there is huge gap between the theory and reality.
This probably explains the present intensive propaganda campaign launched by Xi Jinping in the recent weeks.
Article 2 of the Regulations deals with the establishment of “a model area of ethnic unity and progress within the administrative region of the Autonomous Region,” while Article 3 speaks of Tibet as “an inalienable part of the great motherland since ancient times, and all ethnic groups are important members of the Chinese family. National unity is the lifeline of the people of all ethnic groups. It is the common responsibility and obligation of the people of all ethnic groups to maintain the motherland's unity and strengthen national unity.”
And it goes on…
More recently, The China Daily highlighted the cases of four Han-Tibetan intermarriages being “a great demonstration of ethnic unity in this new era of development.”
A few months ago, Xinhua had already touched upon the issue: “According to statistics, there are more than 560 multiethnic families in Metok [near Upper Siang of Arunachal Pradesh]. People of different ethnic groups help each other in farming and animal husbandry, and children of different ethnic groups study in the same classroom. People here celebrate the New Year's Day, the Lunar New Year, the Tibetan New Year or folk culture festivals of Monpa ethnic group.”
The news agency highlighted the case of Zhang Chunhuan and his family celebrating together the Chinese Lunar New Year. This could be the beginning of a real ‘mingling’ and the disappearence of the Tibetan nation.
The simple fact that tens of articles on the subject have been published in the last few days, shows the Communist Party is facing a serious problem which will not be solved by propaganda alone.
The real question is: can Han Chauvinism disappear from the Middle Kingdom? It is doubtful.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Time to change the narrative on 1962 India-China war

My article Time to change the narrative on 1962 India-China war appeared in The Daily Guardian

The history of 1962 needs to be rewritten, and India should not be ashamed of its Army during those fateful months. On the contrary, it is time to build more memorials and museums and let the general public—and China—know about the outstanding valour of the Indian soldiers.

The event which has most marked the Indian psyche since Independence is undoubtedly the Sino-Indian conflict of October/November 1962.

The best proof is that even a non-Congress government at the Centre has been unable to declassify the Henderson-Brooks-Bhagat Report prepared by the Indian Army a few months after the ‘debacle’.

But was it really a defeat?

Retrospectively, I do not think so, even though the government has kept the totality of the report under wraps … perhaps to save the reputation of a few ‘guilty men’.

If not such a disaster, even though for those who fought, for their families, the Indian Army and the nation at large, the 1962 conflict with China was certainly an extremely harrowing experience?

Communist China still uses the narrative of the ‘defeat’ of the Indian Army for its own propaganda and the Communist leadership keeps threatening India to ‘redo it’.

An example, soon after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started an uncalled for confrontation in East Ladakh in May 2020, Beijing tried again to propagate the narrative of India’s crushing defeat in 1962; Beijing argued that it was the Indian Army who had attacked China on the slopes of Thagla ridge and in Ladakh in 1962 and that India had been punished for its temerity.

Already at the end of October 2017, as an offshoot of the Doklam episode, published an album of photos “to commemorate the 55th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the Self-Defense Counterattack.” It showed ill-equipped and unprepared Indian troops who ‘dared’ to provoke the Chinese troops, giving Chairman Mao no option but to ‘counterattack’; killing hundreds of Indian jawans and officers in the process.

President Xi Jinping was probably dreaming of another 1962, when he undertook to change the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh in May 2020, not realizing that today’s India was not Nehru’s romantic and peace-loving India.

Would China decide to ‘teach another lesson’ to India, there will be many Rezang-las or Walongs, and this time, India would use its Air Force, without speaking of severe economic and political retaliations (Beijing could forget about its dear ‘One China Policy’)— Tibet and Taiwan could immediately be recognized by India.

If Xi Jinping had thought that the Ladakhi adventure would be a quick and easy one to digest, he probably has not read Sun Tzu’s Art of War properly.

The battle of Walong of 1962 is one of the well-known episodes which illustrates how well the Indian Army fought; unfortunately, it does not get enough coverage in India.

The website Bharat Rakshak explained: “But for most of the war, the fighting qualities of the Indian jawan and the young officers remained unchanged. Without a mention of the heroic resistance offered at Walong, no story of the 1962 war will be complete. Walong is a small hamlet located near the tri-junction of Tibet, Burma, and India. Situated on an ancient trade route, it was manned by an Assam Rifles post with a small airfield capable of only handling Indian Air Force Otters and Caribous.”

The Print recently recounted some episodes of the battle: “On the morning of 16 November [1962], the final day of the battle, the Chinese launched another massive attack to capture Walong. The few tired and ill-equipped Indian troops left continued to fight. A helicopter tried to evacuate the casualties, but could not land because of poor weather conditions and an absence of suitable landing ground free from enemy fire,” quoting Col NN Bhatia, author of Kumaoni Nostalgia.

The retired colonel continued: “But the fate of Walong and 6 Kumaon was sealed as they were surrounded by two brigade strength of the Chinese. With no fresh troops to reinforce, it was impossible to hold on any longer. The remaining troops were ordered to withdraw.” But they had fought well.

It is said that during the battle for Walong and Kibithoo, the 6 Kumaon had 391 casualties, including 115 killed, 109 wounded, and 167 taken prisoners of war; the Chinese suffered 752 casualties, including 198 killed and 554 wounded.

Lt Gen Panag, a former Army Commander noted: “At Walong, 4 Sikh, 6 Kumaon, 3/3 Gorkha Rifles and 4 Dogra under 11 Infantry Brigade fought the most heroic brigade-level action of the 1962 War. The battle was waged continuously from October 18 to November 16, 1962.”

In the Western sector, the battle of Rezang-la will remain in the annals of the Indian Army.

The tale of Major Shaitan Singh, Param Vir Chakra, and his 13 Kumaon is too well known to be recounted; they fought to their last bullet to defend their position at Rezang-la.

Maj K.C. Preval in Indian Army After Independence noted that on November 18, 1962, in a freezing morning, the Chinese began with a ‘silent’ attack on Rezang-la, advancing wave after wave: “Rezang-la was held by C Company of the battalion and had no artillery support. At about 04:00 am, a patrol spotted a large body of the Chinese scrambling up the gullies and gave the alarm. Within minutes; every man in the company was at his fire position. Under Shaitan Singh, the company at Rezang La had been brought to a state of absolute readiness. The gullies had been ranged in and all of Singh’s light machine guns and mortars were now trained on them.”

Then the Kumaonis let the Chinese ‘have it’.

Let us also not forget that due to the ‘madness’ of the then political leadership, the Indian Air Force was not used.

Wing Commander Jag Mohan (‘Jaggi’) Nath, the first officer to have twice been decorated with the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), India’s second-highest war-time military decoration, went on regular missions over Tibet for more than two years from 1960 to reconnoiter the Chinese military build-up on the Tibetan plateau. Unfortunately, the political leadership refused to believe the hard evidence gathered during his sorties or use the information gathered. Jaggi Nath concluded that China had no Air Force on the Tibetan plateau in 1962.

Had the IAF been used, one can imagine that the casualties would have been less on the Indian side and more on the Chinese; the Line of Actual Control would have remained where it was in September 1959, and the border dispute with China would not be so acute today; the Shaksgam Valley would have not been offered to China by Pakistan in 1963; Mao Zedong would have lost his job. As a result, China would have been completely different today.

The history of 1962 needs to be rewritten, and India should not be ashamed of its Army during those fateful months, on the contrary, it is time to do more research into those battles, build more memorials and museums and let the general public (and China) know about the outstanding valour of the Indian soldiers.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Wang Yang on the Roof of the Word

'Pigeons' flying over the Potala Square
What is the Liberation of Tibet?
China wants us to believe that it liberated Tibet 70 years ago.
It did not really happen like this.
It is true that on May 23, 1951, Tibet and China signed an ‘Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet’; it is also known as the 17-Point Agreement. But it sealed the invasion of Tibet, not its 'liberation'.

The 17-Point Agreement
In his memoirs, the Dalai Lama has said that the Agreement had been signed 'under duress' and that the seals on the Agreement had been forged.
When he crossed the Indian border in March 1959 and reached Tezpur in Assam, the Tibetan leader denounced the Agreement.
He stated (using the third person) that in any case, the Chinese never respected the accord:

In 1951, under pressure of the Chinese Government, a 17-Point Agreement was made between China and Tibet. In that Agreement, the suzerainty of China was accepted as there was no alternative left to the Tibetans. But even in the Agreement, it was stated that Tibet would enjoy full autonomy. Though the control of External Affairs and Defence were to be in the hands of the Chinese Government, it was agreed that there would be no interference by the Chinese Government with the Tibetan religion and customs and her internal administration. In fact, after the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese armies, the Tibetan Government did not enjoy any measure of autonomy even in internal matters, and the Chinese Government exercised full powers in Tibet's affairs. In 1956, a Preparatory Committee was set up for Tibet with the Dalai Lama as Chairman, the Panchen Lama as Vice-Chairman and General Chang Kuo Hun [Zhang Guohua] as the Representative of the Chinese Government. In practice, even this body had little power, and decisions in all important matters were taken by the Chinese authorities. The Dalai Lama and his Government tried their best to adhere to the 17 Point Agreement, but the interference of the Chinese authorities persisted.
Later on June 20, 1959, in a press conference in Mussorie, the Dalai Lama was more explicit. He explained:
To understand and appreciate the significance and implication of the recent tragic happenings in Tibet, it is necessary to refer to the main events which have occurred in the country since 1950.It is recognised by every independent observer that Tibet had virtually been independent by enjoying and exercising all rights of sovereignty, whether internal or external. This has also been impliedly admitted by the Communist Government of China, for the very structure, terms and conditions of the so-called agreement of 1951 conclusively show that it was an agreement between two independent and sovereign States. It follows, therefore, that when the Chinese armies violated the territorial integrity of Tibet they were committing a flagrant act of aggression. The agreement which followed the invasion of Tibet was also thrust upon its people and government by the threat of arms. It was never accepted by them of their own free will. The consent of the government was secured under duress and at the point of the bayonet. My representatives were compelled to sign the agreement under threat of further military operations against Tibet by the invading armies of China leading to utter ravage and ruin of the country. Even the Tibetan seal which was affixed to the agreement was not the seal of my representatives but a seal copied and fabricated by the Chinese authorities in Peking, and kept in their possession ever since.
But today the Chinese authorities are using this event to celebrate the 'Liberation of Tibet'.

Wang Yang arrives at Gongkar Airport

Visit of Wang Yang in Tibet
Strangely, the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) has decided to celebrate the May-23 event in August. Beijing was probably too nervous in May.
God knows!
On August 19, a central delegation from Beijing, led by Wang Yang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) arrived in Lhasa to attend the 70th anniversary functions.
Wang is No 4 is the Communist pantheon.
One can ask, why not celebrated the so-called liberation when the ‘Core leader’, Xi Jinping visited Tibet in July.
There is no answer to this.

Photos quickly circulated of Wang putting a khata around his own neck (strange tradition) and waving to the crowds “as the delegation was warmly welcomed at the Gongkar Airport by representatives from various ethnic groups and from all walks of life,” said Xinhua.
The Chinese agency further reported: “In the afternoon, Wang led the members of the central delegation to the Tibet Museum to attend the opening ceremony of an exhibition on achievements made during the 70 years”.
The exhibition includes “the peaceful liberation [1951], the democratic reform [1959], the establishment of the autonomous region [1965], the socialist construction, the reform and opening-up [1978], and the new era [Xi Jinpng’s], showcasing the significant progress achieved in Tibet's economic and social development under the leadership of the CPC.”
Wang had been ‘entrusted’ by Xi Jinping to “lead officials in Tibet along with veteran senior Tibetan officials” to Tibet: “Wang recognized the high reputation they enjoy among various ethnic groups and their important contributions to developing Tibet,” said a release.

Congratulating the Gang of Five
The Gang of Five Tibetan Communists
The ‘Gang of Five’ was Padma Choeling, a former Governor of Tibet and presently Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), Phakphala Gelek Namgyal, the first ‘rinpoche’ to join the Party in the early 1950s, Legchok, a former Deputy Secretary of the TAR, former Red Guard Pasang and Ngabo Tenzin Jigme, representing his father the famous collaborator Ngabo Ngawang Jigme.
Xinhua noted that the CPC Central Committee, the NPC, the State Council, the CPPCC and the Central Military Commission (CMC) congratulated Xi Jinping by unveiling a plaque on which "Building a Beautiful and Happy Tibet and Fulfilling the Dream of Great Rejuvenation [of China]" was engraved.
The agency added that “20,000 cadres and masses of all ethnic groups gathered on the Potala Palace Square on the morning of the 19th to warmly celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet.”

Wang Yang and Wu Yingjie and Lobsang Gyaltsen (in Tibetan attire)
Wang Yang then gave a speech.

Xinhua said: “The ancient city of Lhasa is full of colorful flags, flowers and a joyful and festive atmosphere everywhere. Under the majestic Potala Palace, set up a podium in Tibetan style. Above the podium, the solemn national emblem and the banner of "Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet" stood out, and the background wall was hung with the emblem of the big celebration and the words ‘1951’ and 2021’ and 10 red flags on both sides. On the Potala Palace Square opposite the podium, people of all ethnic groups dressed in festive attire gathered here early from all directions, waving flags and bouquets in their hands, converging into a sea of joy.”
However, the faces were rather grim in the audience, although the ‘masses’ had to clap from time to time to the speech of Wang and others.
An interesting aspect of the ‘celebration’s was the composition of the delegation.
You Quan, minister of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) who deals with minorities (and Tibet in particular) accompanied Wang. Other delegates were Padma Choeling, Zhang Qingli (who infamously called the Dalai Lama, a ‘wolf in monk’s garb when he was serving as TAR Party Secretary) and presently Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC and more importantly for India, Admiral Miao Hua, member of the Central Military Commission and Director of the CMC’s Political Work Department.

The Speech: from darkness to light
Under a warm 'applause' (a bit forced?), Wang Yang delivered a passionate speech, said Xinhua; Wang Yang observed that “the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet in 1951 was a major victory for the cause of liberation of the Chinese people and the unification of the motherland, and an epoch-making historical turn for Tibet. Since then, Tibet has embarked on a path from darkness to light, from backwardness to progress, from poverty to affluence, from autocracy to democracy, from closed to open, and a thriving new socialist Tibet stands tall at the top of the world.”
It sounds upanishadic!!
Wang mentioned the infamous Xiaogang villages on the border with India: “After persistent efforts, 628,000 poor people have all been lifted out of poverty, 266,000 people have been relocated from the bitterly cold land in the high mountains to live and work happily in river valley towns, and Tibet has joined the nation in building a moderately prosperous society on schedule.”
According to Xinhua, Wang Yang pointed out: “today the world is experiencing a major change that has not been seen in a hundred years, China is at a critical period to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, a new journey to build a modern socialist country has begun, and the economic and social development of Tibet also stands at a new historical starting point. 

Happy? Unhappy?

The Tibetans warned
Tibetans were however warned, they need to “fully implement the party's strategy for governing Tibet in the new era, conscientiously implement the decision and deployment of the party central committee, and strive to write a new chapter of long-term stability and high-quality development on the snowy plateau.”
Wang concluded “…let us closely unite around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, carry forward the great spirit of building the Party, inherit the ‘Old Tibet Spirit’ [the invasion of Tibet in 1950/51] and ‘Two Roads Spirit’ [the Sichuan-Tibet and the Qinghai-Tibet highways opened in December 1954], build a new socialist modernized Tibet that is united, rich, civilized, harmonious and beautiful, and make unremitting efforts to realize the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
There was no mention of the Dalai Lama, Beijing’s bête noire.

The Tibet Military Region, the Tibet General Force of the Armed Police, the TAR Political and Legal Department and the Tibet Branch of the Buddhist Association of China were congratulated.
It was noticed that the Chinese–selected Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu who is President of the Tibet Branch of the Buddhist Association of China, only furtively appeared in the TV reports.
he is clearly not in Beijing's good papers, though his services will be needed for the succession of the Dalai Lama.

Lt Gen Wang Kai, the commander of Tibet Military Region, one Tenzin, ‘representing the masses’ and Liang Nangyu, the representative of Tibetan aid cadres, also spoke at the function. 

Adm Miao, Padma Choeling, Wang, You Quan and Zhang Qingli (behind Wang is Red Pasang)

A Grand Gala
Later in the day, a ‘grand gala’ was held to celebrate of the so-called Peaceful Liberation of Tibet.
Xinhua reported that in the afternoon of August 19, Wang Yang watched the cultural performance 'Tibetan Children's Heart to the Party', together with more than 600 cadres and people from all walks of life in the TAR.”
However, the Chinese Panchen Lama was missing in action. He was probably unhappy to have been relegated to the third row in front of Potala in the morning; he played a very marginal role during the entire visit, it was noted.
The CCP’s mouthpiece continued: “The performance reflected the glorious course of Tibet from peaceful liberation to prosperous development over the past 70 years through the first part ‘Sunshine Shines on the Plateau’, the second part ‘Striving for a New Era’ and the slogan ‘Always Follow the Party’, showing the great importance and deep concern of the Party Central Committee to Tibet with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, and expressing the boldness of Tibetan people of all ethnic groups to unswervingly follow the Party and strive for building a new socialist modernized Tibet.” Propaganda is Thy Name.

Inaugurating the Nagchu-Yangpachen section of the Beijing-Tibet G6 highway
Visit to Nagchu
“With comrade Xi Jinping as the core of the Party Central Committee's cordial care and the fond wishes of the people of the country”, Wang Yang and some members of the Beijing’s delegation visited Nagchu City (earlier called Prefecture); they visited the cadres and masses of all ethnic groups in Nagchu, continued the propaganda.
Wu Yingjie, the TAR Party Secretary accompanied Wang and his colleagues.
Xinhua observed: “Early in the morning of the 20th, Wang Yang and his party took the train to Nagchu City. Once off the train, the central delegation took a car to the Seni County ecological animal husbandry industry demonstration base. Wang Yang walked into the shed, detailed understanding of the base intelligent forage planting, yak dairy products traditional processing, etc., the base to drive the employment of farmers and herdsmen, to promote the local people's income practice affirmed.”
Here again, he left behind a plate with the inscription sent by Xi Jinping, "Building a beautiful and happy Tibet and fulfilling the dream of great rejuvenation". 

Wang Yang, Zhang Qingli, Zhuang Yan, Adm Miao, Wu Yingjie

Visiting some projects
Wang Yang is said to have inspected the grass-roots party organization construction work in Dronyi (Gemar) village, Gemar Lhoma town, Seni county. The usual propaganda speeches were given: “Hangjia Middle School in Seni county, built in 2017, is the largest single project in Zhejiang Province's 13th Five-Year Plan to aid Tibet, with more than 2,000 students, and the new semester has begun. Wang Yang came here to learn more about the work of education aid to Tibet, hoping to continuously improve the level of education in Tibet, so that more children grow up to become successful.”
He also visited a hospital and inspected the progress of high-altitude scientific and technological tree planting in Nagchu City.
Perhaps more importantly Wang Yang opened the Nagchu-Yangpachen section of the Beijing-Tibet National Highway G6.
In Nagchu he was accompanied by Zhang Qingli, Admiral Miao Hua and other members of the central delegation. Again it must be a first for Nagchu to see a three-star admiral in this remote, cold, deserted high-altitude region. But Miao had probably come to the Roof of the World for ‘political work’ and to follow up on his colleague General Zhang Youxia’s visit in July.
This is a serious issue for India.

Other Visits
While Wang was in Ngachu, You Quan of the UFWD went to Lhoka (Shannan) to meet the ‘masses’ while Padma Choeling visiting Shigatse and the Tashilhunpo, where he briefly met …guess who?
Gyaltsen Norbu, the Chinese-designated Panchen Lama.
It is not known if they discussed in Tibetan or in Mandarin.
Lobsang Gyaltsen, the Chairman of the TAR Regional Congress and No 2 in Tibet accompanied Padma Choeling in Shigatse, while Che Dalha, head of the TAR government (and no 3 in the TAR hierarchy) went to Lhoka.

Lobsang Gyaltse, Padma Choeling, Gyaltsen Norbu

Gyaltsen Norbu was briefly seen in the Tashilhunpo monastery with Padma Choeling and Lobsang Gyaltsen.

Other Officials present
Zhang Yijiong, a senior member of the UFWD and designated-interlocutor of the Tibetans was in attendance.  He was following his boss, You Quan everywhere.
Another UDWD official, Sithar (or Sitar) was also present during the visit. He was once described as: 'one-time Tibetan serf, now frontman for China.
A few years ago, Reuters wrote: “For many fellow Tibetans, Sitar is a Chinese government puppet, but for the Communist Party, the former serf is a model of loyalty and rising political star.”
Reuters' correspondent continues: “Sitar, who goes by one name and whose ancestors were serfs for generations until 1959, has risen to be a vice-minister of the Party's UFWD and a key defender of government policy in Tibet. The article further said: “[Sithar] has emerged as one of the most prominent ethnic Tibetans backing China's fight against Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and his government-in-exile based in northern India. In that role, Sitar has come to embody the divide between a Tibetan political elite that has embraced China's programme for controlling and developing the region, and discontented Tibetans and exiles who instead see exploitation and repression.”

All this does not mean that negotiations with Dharamsala will start soon.

In any case, to discuss what? 

When one reads the speeches of the delegation, the positions are too far part.
In Lhasa, the function concluded with these words: “O Party, O Party. You are the sun rising in the east, shining on the snowy mountains and grasslands ...A song ‘Always follow the Party’ contains the ambition of the Tibetan people of all ethnic groups to forge ahead with a new journey under the guidance of Xi Jinping's thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, pushing the atmosphere to a climax.”

There is clearly no negotiations possible today. 

It has to be noted that it is the third visit by a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo in two months (Xi in Amdo in June and in Central and Southern Tibet in July and now Wang in Lhasa and Nagchu).

Tail End: Don't you think that the 'pigeons' figuring in the photo at the beginning of this article, look like drones? Was China nervous during the Celebrations? Is Beijing not sure that Tibet has really been liberated? To be followed...

A few photos of the visit:


Friday, August 13, 2021

Han marrying Tibetans: 560 multiethnic families in Metok

Inter-marriage between Hans and Tibetans is not new, though during the 70 years following Tibet’s invasion by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), it has remained rare exceptions; the Tibetans being always reluctant to lose their Tibetanness.
It seems that it is changing, due to Xi Jinping’s new policy about the transfer of 'ethnic groups' on the border.
In March 1955, in a Report to the Ministry of External Affairs, Apa Pant, the Political Officer (PO) in Sikkim noted that the Chinese were showing great energy and organizational skill to reform certain aspects of the Tibetan administration: “Starting of schools and welfare centres, organizing of social events such as cinemas, is attracting at least some of the inhabitants of Tibet.”
The PO believed that the people in the Chumbi Valley near Sikkim, were taken in by the Chinese efforts to win over the Tibetans; he also mentioned inter-marriages: “One of the aspects of the policy of establishing closer bond between Tibet and China is the great encouragement, even at times through a great deal of propaganda, that is being given to Sino-Tibetan marriages,” he wrote.
However, many Tibetans feared that the Chinese would marry the most eligible Tibetan girls “and produce a new generation of Sino-Tibetans who would have deeper emotional feelings towards China,” wrote Pant Pant.
This intermarriage phase would not last.
It would practically stop after the Dalai Lama took refuge in India in 1959.
In 1955, Pant however prudently added that “this aspect of Chinese activities in Tibet requires careful watching.”

Today, a State Policy

The situation has now changed and it seems that he has become part of the policies adopted during the 7th Tibet Work Forum in August 2020 in Beijing, to show 'unity of the Chinese Nation'.
As an article in The China Daily puts it: “Han-Tibetan couples reflect region's love of unity”.
The Chinese propaganda publication explains: “During the 70 years of history after the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, ethnic equality and unity have always been cornerstones for the region's rapid economic development. As reform and opening-up deepens, the physical and emotional ties between Tibetans and people in the rest of China become closer, with frequent business interactions and a growing number of mixed communities.”

Can Tibetanness disappears forever?

Xi Jinping’s visit to Tibet

As mentioned in a previous post, on August 2, The Tibet Daily published several quotes attributed to Xi Jinping during his interaction with the local officials in Tibet; Xi’s views are encapsulated in slogans, among them: “the border area is the first line of defense and the barrier for the national security. We must strengthen the construction of border infrastructure, encourage people of all ethnic groups to take root in the border, protect the country or build their home-town."
The remark about ‘all ethnic groups taking root on the border’ should have rung the alarm bells in Delhi and Dharamsala. Did it?

Tibet Multi-Ethnic?
To come back to The China Daily article mentioned earlier, it states: “Official statistics showed that more than 40 ethnic minorities live in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and Tibetan inhabitants account for over 90 percent of the total 3.64 million population. Nowadays, families consisting of members of different ethnic backgrounds are quite common in Tibet.”
Whether it is true or not, is difficult to say, but cities like Lhasa are today overwhelminingly Chinese.
The Party’s newspaper takes the example of four couples, their Han-Tibetan intermarriage being “a great demonstration of ethnic unity in this new era of development.”
It is clear that it has now become a State policy to be implemented before the next Tibet Work Forum around 2025. 

It has to be noted that these decisions remain secret (at least remain within the Party) till they are fully implemented. It has been the case for the Xiaogang villages, particularly those on the Indian border.

Four Examples
The first example given by the article is Wei Rongjian, who is born in Nanchong, Sichuan province, where he was managing a private martial arts school.
He came to Tibet in 1989: “After falling in love with the Tibetan woman Chaguo [Chinese name?], he settled down in Trinkhor (Zhongguo in Chinese) village of Nyingchi City. …Wei devoted himself to revitalizing countryside education and set up a non-profit school in 1996, offering local children a window to explore the outside world.”
In 2003, Wei invested some 2.6 million yuan ($400,000) to establish the first kindergarten in Trinkhor with both Tibetan and Chinese language courses for the students.” He told the newspaper: “Although I am over 60 years old, my wife and I still work over 10 hours a day with the school's affairs. My mission lies in providing modern and urban education resources for students in rural areas."
The second case is Jamyang Choephel, married to Du Yingfang; the couple lives in Bome in Nyingchi City.
Jamyang Choephel is a car mechanic born in Bome; he has been transporting goods and materials from Sichuan to Tibet since the mid-1960s. He met Du Yingfang, a Chengdu woman, via a mutual friend, and they got married in 1976. This is a rare case of Tibetan man marrying a Han girl: “At first, all of my friends were curious why I married a Han woman, because intermarriage between different ethnic groups was quite rare at that time," said Jamyang.
According to The China Daily: “Despite the misunderstandings of others, the couple live a simple but happy life for over 45 years and have two kids, who are already grown, and have with their own jobs and families. …Every year we go back to Chengdu to celebrate the Spring Festival, by plane or by car. It's more convenient than before!" observed Du.
Once again it is rather rare to have Tibetan man marrying Chinese girls.
The next couple is Nyima Lhamo and Zhou Jingming, who also live in Bome county.
Zhou Jingming, who is from Leshan, Sichuan province migrated several years ago to Göndrong (Yigong in Chinese) to earn a living, “a local woman named Nyima Lhamo who was running a small shop in the village caught his eye,” explained Zhou.
Lhamo had already been married, but had divorced: “After spending time together over three years, the two tied the knot in 2012, and have been managing a restaurant together since then,” she said.
The couple has now opened a new hotel with ten guest-rooms, offering Tibetan-style homestay experiences to tourists who come to Bome: “We earn about 300,000 to 400,000 yuan per year, [it is] a very satisfying income," Zhou said.
Zhou has entered politics; he was recentre elected deputy to the National People's Congress in the township; he is responsible for the rural revitalization; he swears that he “will devote himself to increasing the income of rural residents and diversifying the town's business models.”
Practically, he will bring more Han settlers who will marry Tibetan girls.
The last couples mentioned is Mumu and Yan Shiquan, who live in Lulang town, the ‘Switzerland of Tibet’ in Nyingchi.
The couple manage a 12 greenhouses of vegetables, and a pig farm with around 300 livestock. Married for 27 years, they have “dabbled in many business ventures, and started to earn a good living three years ago through farming as well as raising livestock. With little experience at the start, Mumu and Yan had to learn from scratch all the necessary agricultural techniques.”
These examples are obviously promoted in the Chinese media to emulate other Tibetan girls to marry Chinese.

560 multiethnic families in Metok
A few months ago, Xinhua had already touched upon the issue: “According to statistics, there are more than 560 multiethnic families in Metok [near the Indian border]. People of different ethnic groups help each other in farming and animal husbandry, and children of different ethnic groups study in the same classroom. People here celebrate the New Year's Day, the Lunar New Year, the Tibetan New Year, ‘Dashiang’ folk culture festival of Monpa ethnic group and other ethnic festivals.”
The news agency highlighted the case of Zhang Chunhuan and his family celebrating together he eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year: “Eight years ago, Zhang Chunhuan, a young man from Shanxi Province, came to Metok. At that time, the traffic in the county located at the southern foot of the Himalayas was inconvenient. Zhang had to walk three or four hours from some townships to the county seat to buy daily necessities. He never planned to make his home here one day,” recalls Zhang.
Zhang eventually married Tashi Yudron, a Monpa girl; they have now a daughter. Xinhua says: “Nowadays, Metok has schools, shops and restaurants. A beautiful park has been built in the center of the county seat. It has become a tourist attraction in Tibet and an agricultural products base featuring tea, Tibetan medicine and characteristic agriculture. In 2019, Metok shook off
Zhang's parents joined the couple to celebrate the Spring Festival for two consecutive years: “Now, Metok is my home,” said Zhang.

There is nothing wrong with inter-marriage as such, but when it becomes a State Policy, with the purpose of 'uniting' Chinese race, there is something wrong.
The above are obviously model cases to be emulated by many more Tibetans; Beijing has proably calculated that if thousands of Tibetan girls get married to Chinese migrants (for example those coming to work on for the mega infrastructure development projects on the border), a page of the history of Tibet will be turned forever, with no chance for Land of Snows to become Tibet again in the future.
Dharamsala and Delhi should take this issue seriously, otherwise it will weaken the Tibetan 'cultural' cause and the border populations in Northern India have soon to face new neighbours, with all the consequences it implies.

India must revisit Tibet policy to stop Beijing bullying

My article  India must revisit Tibet policy to stop Beijing bullying appeared in The Daily Guardian

Here is the link...

Xi Jinping visited Central and Southern Tibet after a gap of ten years. His objective was to ‘implement the party’s strategy for governing Tibet in the new era and write a new chapter in long-term stability and high-quality development of the snow-covered plateau’.

The last few weeks have been eventful as far as Tibet is concerned.

From June 21 to 23, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) visited Central and Southern Tibet after a gap of ten years. When the Chinese president landed in Nyingchi City (previously called Prefecture), near the Indian border of Arunachal Pradesh, it immediately rang bells in the security establishment in India.

The China Daily reported about his stage-managed arrival: “He [Xi] was warmly welcomed by local people and officials of various ethnic groups.” Xi inspected the ecological preservation in the basin of the Yarlung Tsangpo River and its tributary, the Nyang River.

For India, this was an important part of the visit because first, the Chinese President was accompanied by Gen Zhang Youxia, Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission (chaired by Xi), and second, due to the proximity of ‘Bayi’ (which means ‘8-1 or August 1’, a term reserved to the People’s Liberation Army which was founded on August 1). Bayi is the Headquarter of the forces facing India in Arunachal Pradesh. Though no details have filtered, Xi was probably briefed about the situation on the border (a meeting with the PLA top brass of the Western Theater Command and the Tibet Military District was later organized in Lhasa).

The visit has to be seen in the context of the CPC’s 100th anniversary and the 70 anniversary of the so-called Liberation of Tibet (read ‘invasion’). The People’s Daily resumed the objectives of the visit: “to implement the party’s strategy for governing Tibet in the new era and write a new chapter in long-term stability and high-quality development of the snow-covered plateau.” This refers to the 7th Work Forum held in August 2020 which defined the development policies for Tibet for the five next years, particularly the sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Chinese President’s tour was hardly over, that another development took place in Delhi: on July 28 morning, US Secretary of State Blinken ‘briefly’ met the Dalai Lama’s representative Ngodup Dongchung during the former’s maiden trip to the Indian Capital.

Later photos of a meeting with members of the Indian ‘civil society’, attended by Geshe Dorjee Damdul, Director of Tibet House, the Dalai Lama’s cultural centre in Delhi were released. Confusion was created between the two meetings, because Dongchung was called ‘a’ representative of the Dalai Lama, while he is the ‘The’ Representative in Delhi. The US embassy should have certainly given the full name of the Representative, to avoid such ambiguity.

A couple of days earlier Wendy Sherman, the US Deputy Secretary of State had met State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in China.

A State Department communiqué said: “The Deputy Secretary and State Councilor Wang had a frank and open discussion about a range of issues… [She] raised our concerns about human rights, including Beijing’s anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong; the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang; abuses in Tibet; and the curtailing of media access and freedom of the press.”

All this is fine and welcome, but one question remains: has India a Tibet Policy?

It is India that has long and tense border with Tibet from Demchok in Ladakh to Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh; is it not high time for Delhi to have its own ‘Tibet’ Policy and start immediately engaging Dharamsala?

At first, Indian officials should meet the newly elected Sikyiong Penpa Tsering; it has not helped India to keep the relations with Dharamsala at a low key (or non-existent). Both India and the Tibetans need to seriously discuss several issues, whether of common interests or problems facing the Tibetan refugees in India.

The election of a new Sikyong Penpa Tsering as the head of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) is an ideal time to sit together.

Contentious issues, if any, should also be brought to the table (for example, why, nearly three months after the result of the elections, half the recently elected members of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies have still not yet taken the oath? Is there a Chinese angle behind this?). This should be frankly discussed (and not necessarily made public).

Several areas of Indian interests need to be discussed.

First, the recruitment of Tibetans in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Militia; it has been reported in the Indian media that China wanted to match India by raising a Special Force composed of Tibetans. It is doubtful if this can succeed as Beijing’s trust in the Tibetans remains extremely low, even 70 years after the so-called Liberation of Tibet (read ‘invasion), but Delhi should ascertain Dharamsala’s views; and the CTA should eventually issue a statement stating its views.

Exchanges should also take place about some aspects of the Tibet-Indian border, whether in the Eastern Sector (Arunachal Pradesh), Central Sector (Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh) or the eastern part of the Western Sector (Demchok area); what is Dharamsala’s historical take on these issues?

This is particularly important at a time when it has been reported that the Chinese have erected tents on the Indian side of the Charding Nala near Demchok in Ladakh. The Tibetans are certainly aware of their traditional border with India and can hopefully openly state their position.

Another area of interest (not to say worry) for India, is the demographic change on the Indian frontiers. Since 2017, the mushrooming of ‘model’ villages in Tibet, at the proximity of the Indian border, is disturbing; hundreds of ‘xiaogang’ (‘moderately well-off’) villages have come up in the last four years with a mixed population of Tibetans and Hans.

Further, the authorities in Tibet have started to entice the local Tibetan population to side with the Communist Party. A new formula can be found in every speech of the local satraps, the inhabitants of China’s borders (with India) should be “the protectors of the sacred homeland and the builders of happy homes.” Officially, this development is linked with ‘poverty alleviation’ and the ‘defence of the borders’.

There are other areas of common interests, for example how to communicate with the Tibetans inside Tibet? Once the Ladakh episode is over, Delhi should facilitate cultural contacts between Tibetans in India with those in Tibet and why not invite the latter for religious or cultural happenings in India.

Environmental issues are also of concern for India, particularly the mega hydropower plants to be developed by China on the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra; what are Dharamsala’s views on this?

From India’s side, assurance should be given that Delhi will stand by the Dalai Lama’s choice for his succession.

Finally, a mechanism should be set-up for regular exchanges between Delhi and Dharamsala; centuries of close kinship between the Roof of the World and the Indic civilization cannot be erased just for political expediencies , or due to Beijing’s bullying tactics.