Join our Mailing List

"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

US embassy cables: Tibet protests put India in awkward spot

December 19, 2010, Thursday 16 December 2010 21.30 GMT

Wednesday, 26 March 2008, 12:45




EO 12958 DECL: 03/25/2028





Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Atul Keshap for reasons 1.4 (
b and d)


1. The New Delhi government performs a delicate balancing act in the
aftermath of the Tibet riots. Key passage highlighted in yellow.

2. Read related article

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Tibet remains a front-burner challenge in New Delhi
more than 10 days after protests at the Chinese Embassy and a protest
march out of Dharamsala led to the arrest of over 200 Tibetans. After
another protest at the Chinese Embassy led to more arrests on March 21,
the Indian press reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry warnings led the
Indian government to back out of a "tentative" meeting between
Vice-President Ansari and the Dalai Lama. The BJP and RSS smell blood as
a result of the government's caution, while the normally meddlesome Left
has kept a stony silence on China's actions in Tibet. Tibetan sources
report that 70 of 140 protesters arrested in Delhi remain in detention
as of March 26, despite an assurance from Foreign Secretary Menon to the
Ambassador on March 19 that all those arrested before then would be
released that day. The Dalai Lama's Special Envoy told Poloff that the
Tibetan Government-in-Exile was satisfied with the Indian government's
statements to date on the situation, and suggested that the USG
positively acknowledge India's statement rather than press the GOI to be
more forceful. He said that he hoped that President Bush will issue a
statement "sooner rather than later," and added that the Dalai Lama had
sent a personal letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao. Responding to
criticism that the U.S. was applying pressure, External Affairs Minister
Mukherjee said "They (the U.S.) have expressed their views. They are not
putting pressure (on India)." India continues to walk the razor's edge
between Beijing and Dharamsala. It cannot afford to antagonize the
former, but it has a sacred obligation to the latter. END SUMMARY

----- Protesters scale perimeter wall at Chinese Embassy -----

2. (SBU) Five members of a group of Tibetan demonstrators breached the
perimeter wall of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on the night of March
21. The report said that the five protesters were detained along with
thirty-three others before any untoward incidents occurred. The Dalai
Lama's Representative in New Delhi, Tempa Tsering, told Poloff on March
26 that seventy of the 140 Tibetans held in Delhi since March 14 have
been released to date, noting that several of the March 21 protesters
were injured. According to "The Indian Express," the Chinese Foreign
Ministry summoned Ambassador Rao in Beijing to voice their concern for
the safety and security of its diplomatic personnel in Delhi and handed
over a list of Tibetan protests likely to take place in India prior to
the Olympics, which the Chinese asked India to act upon. "The Hindustan
Times" quoted the Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan as saying, "I
hope Indian friends see through the nature of his (the Dalai Lama's)
intentions and not be misled and make correct statements based on facts
and deeds, not words." Zhang added that, "He (the Dalai Lama) used
non-violence to cheat the international community."

----- Indian Vice-President not to meet with Dalai Lama -----

4. (SBU) "The Indian Express" citQsources in a March 22 report as
stating that Vice-President Hamid Ansari's meeting with the Dalai Lama,
scheduled two months previously, was canceled after Chinese pressure
precipitated the GOI to advise Ansari's office to cancel the meeting,
although the news item quotedGOI sources as saying that the meeting was
"only tentatively scheduled." Referring to the Dalai Lama-Ansari
meeting, the "Zee News" portal quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman
Qin Gang as declaring that, "The Indian side has clarified to China on
the relevant rumor, saying that there is no such plan."

----- Tibetan government-in-exile satisfied with GOIstatements -----

5. (C) Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari
expressed satisfaction with GOI official statements to date, noting that
"They have their own understandable compulsions, and it's better than
the past when no statements were issued." He expressed his belief that
it would be beneficial for the USG to positively acknowledge India's
March 15 statement that, "We are

NEW DELHI 00000882 002 OF 002

distressed by reports of the unsettled situation and violence in Lhasa,
and by the deaths of innocent people. We would hope that all those
involved will work to improve the situation and remove the causes of
such trouble in Tibet, which is an autonomous region of China, through
dialogue and non-violent means." Gyari speculated that positive
reinforcement may motivate the GOI to issue further statements in
support of the Tibetans. He revealed that a private communication from
the Dalai Lama to Chinese President Hu Jintao was received by the
Chinese on 20 March, and the Tibetan government-in-exile was waiting for
a response. Gyari stated that he had shared the letter with
Undersecretary Dobriansky, contacts at the NSC, and Indian Foreign
Secretary ShivShankar Menon. He commented that he planned to meet with
Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan on 24 March but did not
disclose the agenda for the discussion. Gyari opined that a statement
from President Bush would give the Chinese reason for pause and
emphasized that, if forthcoming, the statement would be "most beneficial
sooner rather than later."

----- BJP blames Nehru for current Tibet morass -----

6. (SBU) Tibet has become a domestic political issue again in recent
days, as posturing for the upcoming general elections continues. On
March 25, India's Zee New portal reported that the Bharatiya Janata
Party prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani blamed former Congress
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for adopting a "weak stance" on Tibet in
the 1950s, stating that, "the Nehru government's failure to focus on
India's diplomatic efforts, while simultaneously strengthening its
military capabilities, to deftly resolve the boundary issue with China,"
directly contributed to the current state of affairs in Tibet. He hailed
the BJP's Vajpayee administration as engineers of the current progress
in India-China relations, adding that he urged Chinese President Hu
during his November 2006 India visit to arrange for the Dalai Lama to
visit Tibet prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Assailing the Congress
Party's passive reaction to China's repression in Tibet, Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief K.S. Sudershan condemned the "atrocities
perpetrated on the peaceful protesters" in Tibet and proclaimed that,
"these demonstrations have completely betrayed the hollowness of Chinese
claims that under her occupation Tibet has witnessed all-around
development and that the people are happy with the regime." Broadsiding
the Congress Party, Sudershan pledged the RSS's full support for the
Tibetan cause and urged the world to "exert such pressure over the
Government of China that it is forced to come to the negotiating table
to find a peaceful solution to the Tibetan crisis." Meanwhile, the Left,
ready at all times to comment negatively on anything relating to
America, remains absolutely silent on the Tibet issue, preferring to
stand by CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury's hypocritical March 17 statement
that the CPI-M was unable to comment as Tibet was an "internal matter"
for China.

----- India keeps a finger to the wind -----

7. (C) COMMENT: The words "tightrope" and "balancing act" are constantly
repeated in Delhi regarding the Indian government's handling of Tibetan
protests. As Foreign Secretary Menon explained to the Ambassador, the

SIPDIS movement has the sympathy of the Indian public, and India has
been a generally supportive home to tens of thousands of Tibetans,
including the Dalai Lama, for nearly 50 years. However, the tacit
agreement that Tibetans are welcome in India as long as they don't cause
problems is being challenged at a time when India's complex relationship
with Beijing is churning with border issues, rivalry for regional
influence, a growing economic interdependence, the nascent stages of
joint military exercises, and numerous other priorities. While the GOI
will never admit it, we expect New Delhi's Balancing Act with India's
Tibetans to continue for the foreseeable future, with the caveat that a
rise in violence -- either by Tibetans here or by the Chinese security
forces in Tibet - could quickly tip the balance in favor of the side
with greater public support. END COMMENT MULFORD
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank