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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Sunday, July 20, 2003


By Vijay Kranti
July-Sep, 2003 issue of BORDER AFFAIRS journal from N.Delhi

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to China has, once again,
proved that irrespective of China's claims over Tibet, the communist rulers
of this Asian colony have yet to come out of their guilty conscience. Before
Mr. Vajpayee, a veteran champion of Tibetan cause, left for Beijing the
Chinese officials, involved in setting details of the agenda, spent a good
part of their efforts to ensure that he would not raise the Tibetan issue in
public during his visit. But it was the very own guilty conscience and sense
of Chinese insecurity over the Tibetan issue that they spilled the beans on
their own.

On 23rd June morning at the time of signing two agreements, one on opening
of a new border trade route through Sikkim and the other on mutual
cooperation, it was agreed between the two Prime Ministers that a joint
communiqué with details of these agreements would be issued after their
scheduled meeting same evening. But the over enthusiasm shown by the Chinese
propaganda masters, who run the official Xinhua news agency, exposed how
desperate and insecure the Chinese rulers are on the question of Tibet.

Without waiting for the joint statement the Xinhua released a news item,
which announced that for the first time in history the Indian government had
'explicitly admitted that Tibet is an inalienable part of China'. By any
standards of journalism this information, if true, was news that deserved to
be treated as the 'news story of the year'. Indian media, a typical mirror
of the post-1962 inferiority complex ridden Indian psyche, lost no time in
lapping the Xinhua story. Almost every news bulletin on most Indian TV news
channels ran its lead story announcing "India sells out Tibet to China".
Similarly most newspapers next morning came out with screaming headlines,
which sounded like "India surrenders Tibet" or "India barters Tibet for
Sikkim". The Indian complex proved too deep to let the chiefs of news bureau
of media groups to wait for the Indian version or to seek clarification of
Indian foreign ministry on such a sensitive issue.

On the Chinese side too, this event was an expression of their own complexes
arising out of the contrast between the announced Marxist principles of
'anti-colonialism' and the reality of their colonial clutches over Tibet.
After all modern day Chinese are well aware of the fact that Tibet used to
be a free nation until 1951 when Mao's Peoples Liberation Army (PLA)
swallowed Tibet with the same brutal Han might that was used to occupy many
other countries like East Turkistan (Sinkiang), Inner Mongolia, Manchuria

It was not the first time that the Chinese rulers tried to get official seal
of approval of Indian governmen over Tibet as an 'inalienable part of China'
. Since day-one of Tibetan occupation the Chinese leadership have been
itching to win India's seal of final approval. Earlier Indian governments
have been viscilating their response to this Chinese demand between terms
like 'Tibet is a part of China' and 'Tibet is an autonomous region of China'
. When challenged by the media representatives to clarify the confusion
arising out of Xinhua claims Mr. Yashwant Sinha claimed that 'their is no
change in India's stand on Tibet'. On a later day when Indian claims did not
stop the Chinese media from repeating its earlier claims Mr. Sinha tried to
cool down the Indian media's anxiety by claiming that India had articulated
its stand on Tibet to a position which makes it more favourable to Tibet.
Instead of using term 'China' India said that it 'recognizes' that 'Tibet
Autonomous Region is a part of People's Republic of China'.

It is interesting to note that rather than cooling passions in India, this
claim of the Indian leaders has only given rise to fresh fears. In a
seminar, held immediately after Mr. Vajpayee's return to India, Mr. Seshadri
Chari, Chief Editor of The Organizer, the news weekly known for its pro-BJP
colour, explained that the mention of 'Tibet Autonomous Region' (TAR) by the
Indian government is to underline that China's claims over Tibet are limited
only up to the TAR which is less than half of the real Tibet. (Two provinces
of original Tibet namely KHAM and AMDO have been already assimilated by
China in the adjoining provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Ganzu and Quinghai.) On
the use of term 'People's Republic of China' as against 'China' used by all
previous Indian Prime Ministers in this context, Mr. Chari's explaination
was that this change in GOI's stand on Tibet reflects India's desire to put
China-Tibet relations in the right perspective. "It underlines the occupied
status of Tibet. The basic historical fact is that Tibet was never a part of
traditional 'China'. It was forcibly occupied by 'Peoples Republic of China'
which itself came into existence only in 1949." His comment that, "This
relation is valid only till PRC exists" put China-Tibet relations at par
with the relations that the constituent states of USSR had with Russia until
the USSR broke into its original pieces.

In sharp contrast to this Dr. Brahma Chellaney, a noted China scholar and
expert on strategic affairs, was of the opinion that by merely using the
term 'recognize' and by referring to TAR, India has permanently sealed the
fate of Tibet as a part of China. He says that by accepting TAR as the real
Tibet India has only endorsed the Chinese viewpoint that other parts of
Tibet (Kham and Amdo) were never parts of Tibet and that there was no
dispute on their accession by China.

The confusion over how kind the Prime Minister Vajpayee has been to the
cause of Tibet, which remained his political darling during his earlier role
as a fiery leader of opposition, has yet to settle down. What new status is
going to be assigned finally to Tibet in the light of latest India-China
understanding on Tibet in the Beijing agreement has yet to emerge. But one
basic factor that has emerged from the Chinese attitude on this issue is
that despite all Chinese claims on Tibet as a 'historic' or 'an inalienable
' part of China, the Beijing rulers are never going to come out of their
guilty conscience on forcible occupation of Tibet.

Free India's interaction with China on Tibet started in 1949 when China
attacked Tibet and occupied its eastern province of Kham, the home of fiery
Khampas, who represented Tibet's national fighting spirit in the western
media during first two decades of Tibetan occupation. This was the very
first step taken by Chairman Mao in the direction of giving shape to his
South Asian dream that he had expressed earlier in his declaration which
said, "Tibet is China's palm and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and NEFA (now
Arunachal Pradesh) are its fingers." But thanks to Nehru's fascination for
Mao's communist revolution, he refused to see any threat in this invasion.

Overwhelmed by Premier Chou En-Lai's public relations skills Nehru accepted
the forcible assimilation of Tibet into China in 1951 as the 'liberation' of
a backward feudal state by a well-meaning progressive socialist government.
On the one hand he used all his influence over the young Dalai Lama to
'cooperate' with Beijing and on the other he threw his weight behind China
to protect it from any action, even discussion, by the UN, then known as
United Nations Organisation (UNO). First time in the history of Asia China
had a direct geographic interface with South Asia. Pakistan, India, Nepal,
Sikkim and Bhutan suddenly discovered that China was their new neighbour on
their northern borders.

Nehru and India had their first taste of the Chinese reality when the PLA
butchered over 80 thousand Tibetans and Dalai Lama had to flee to India
following a failed public uprising against the occupying Chinese army in
Lhasa and other parts of Tibet. The push came to a shove for a disillusioned
and shocked Nehru when China used the occupied Tibet as a Chinese military
base and attacked India. A surprised, unprepared and ill equipped Indian
Army faced a complete humiliation at the hands of China who, until the last
day, were not tired of defining relations with India through the well known
slogan "Hindi-China Bhai-Bhai" (India and China are brothers).

1962 marked the watershed in India-China relations. Since then China's South
Asian policy has been religiously focused on weaning away Pakistan, Nepal,
Bhutan, Myanmar, and later Bangla Desh too, from Indian influence and
creating all possible conditions in these countries, which promoted local
hostility towards India and her regional interests.

Beijing's most remarkable success was Pakistan, an erstwhile ally of the
anti-communist western block. It soon turned out to be an ally who is more
than willing to play as China's nuclear as well as conventional military
proxy in containing India. While good relations with Pakistan and Myanmar
have helped China in extending its military arm right up to the Arabian Sea
and Indian Ocean respectively, its defence treaty with Bangladesh has made
entire northeastern region of India highly vulnerable. It is ironic that
Bangla Desh happens to be the same country that won its freedom with India's
help and whose birth and recognition as a member of the world community were
opposed tooth and nail by none other than China.

In the case of Nepal and Bhutan too China has gone a big way in weaning away
the two Himalayan countries from the Indian zone of influence. While Nepal
has slowly emerged as a convenient playground of pro-China, pro-Pakistan and
many other China sponsored anti-Indian forces in recent decades, Bhutan too
has become a safe heaven for pro-China and anti-India terrorist and
separatist groups like the ULFA and KLA. These groups draw political,
financial and strategic support from Beijing and have been sending their
member to Chinese occupied Tibet for training in subversive activities.

China too has been living quite an uneasy life with the subjects of its
Tibetan colony. Despite a tight military control over Tibet, Beijing has
failed in winning over the Tibetan hearts in past 50 years. Even after all
possible efforts to destroy Tibetan religion and running a much longer and
harder 'Cultural Revolution' inside Tibet the Chinese masters have failed in
winning over the Tibetans from emotional influence of the exiled Tibetan
ruler Dalai Lama. All this has encouraged the Chinese leaders to use their
time-tested tool of ethnic cleansing and demographic overwhelming - a policy
that has shown remarkable results in many other similar problematic regions
like Inner Mongolia, Manchuria and Sinkiang.

Millions of Chinese are being settled inside Tibet. The two Tibetan
provinces of Kham and Amdo, which were scooped out of Tibet and assimilated
in the adjoining Chinese provinces of Sechuan, Yunnan, Ganzu and Qinghai
soon after the occupation of Tibet, have been already converted into regions
of overwhelming Chinese character. Going by various policy statements issued
by prominent Chinese leaders and Beijing's special Work Groups on Tibet in
the past, conversion of the remaining part of Tibet, known as Tibet
Autonomous Region (TAR), into an overwhelming Han country is only a matter
of time.

A significant step being taken by Beijing to seal the fate of Tibet through
demographic invasion of Tibet is the upcoming Railway project in TAR.
Undertaken at a mind-boggling cost of US $ 27.2 billion, this project will
connect Lhasa to four major Chinese centers. These are Gormo in Qinghai
(1118 km), Lanzhou in Gansu (2126 km), Dali in Yunnan (1594 km) and Chengdu
in Sechuan (1927 km). When completed, this railway network is going to
convert Tibet permanently into a region of overwhelmingly Chinese character.
Justifying the extraordinary cost of this four-stage railway project,
Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin had termed it as a 'political project'. The
construction work of the first Gormo-Nagchu-Lhasa phase is already running
at full steam and is expected to start ferrying Chinese settlers, defence
equipment and personnel from Qinghai in 2007.

Once first phase of this project is complete, this railway line is going to
bring a basic change in the character of occupied Tibet. From a country
sparsely populated by unhappy Tibetans and difficult geographic conditions,
TAR will soon be a region of overwhelming Chinese character and equipped
with reliable mass transport system that will make Indian defence
preparedness along Himalayan borders meaningless. One should hope that the
authors of India's new China policy will not let the Chinese dragon have the
last laugh as it had in 1962.


Articles in this Issue:
  2. Rights groups urge Blair to push Tibet, abuses in China meetings
  3. Nepal foreign secretary leaves for US to discuss trade, refugees
  4. Dalai Lama to speak at concert
  5. Tibet - a living tradition
  6. Bhutan mulls militia training as conflict looms with Indian separatists
  7. The uprooted of Bhutan

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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