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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

India-Tibet-World The saga of convenient oblivion


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In this piece on Tibet, I shall not go into its hoary past, nor recapitulate the events that led to its occupation by Communist China, the Dalai Lama’s flight to India and the ongoing attempt by Beijing to erase Tibetan identity and culture. Wikipedia will tell you that

China wants the Tibet issue to go away

1947-1950 was a period of idealism and excitement. India had humbled the mightiest empire in world at the time

In 1949, the Communist Chinese booted out a system perceived as corrupt, repressive, unjust, unequal, exploitative

The prevailing fantasy (on our side) was that together India and China would shape the contours of emerging order in Asia (China, full of recollections of its former imperial greatness, preferred to be the sole arbiter)

Since Pakistan had tried to snatch Kashmir in 1948-1948, and was supported by the West, Jawaharlal Nehru preferred to be friendly with China despite his misgivings about Chinese intentions

Our diplomatic inexperience at independence prevented us from reading public signals emanating from China that they would soon bring Tibet back into China

In October 1950 China invaded Tibet. According to declassified records, and recollections of some, Lhasa asked us for military help. The UN condemned the invasion then got busy with other issues. We cried, but did not do much (we had just emerged from a conflict with Pakistan)

Having taken over Tibet, China no longer needed to be deferential to India (although we continued to argue to seat it in the United Nations)

In 1951, to give a veneer of legality to the occupied country, a 17-point Agreement between Tibet and China was forced on the Tibetans and promised to protect their culture, value, religion, language, structures – in short one country two systems! It was violated almost immediately

In 1959, the Dalai Lama formally repudiated the accord, “since China herself had broken the terms of her own agreement”, and escaped to India (he has stayed here since), a sore point with the Chinese

It also led to the 1962 conflict, with China wanting to teach us a lesson

In 1962, the then Panchen Lama wrote to the Chinese Government that despite all its pledges about autonomy and religious freedom, 97% of monasteries and nunneries had been destroyed and the number of monks and nuns living there reduced by 93%

The Tibetan language, dress, customs, and habits were considered backward, filthy, useless. Anyone who adhered to them had to face “tamzing” or public struggle sessions

Over 100,000 Tibetans died or committed suicide after the public sessions, twice as many died in prison or “reform through labour camps (laogai)”

Mao’s Cultural Revolution was unleashed in 1966 to eliminate his enemies in China, but in Tibet it sought to destroy Tibet’s religion, culture and identity. By the time the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976 with the greatest event in Mao’s career (his death), we are told that over 6,000 monasteries and religious institutions had been destroyed

From 1956-1972, Tibetans rebelled against the Chinese government in eastern Tibet (Sichuan Province). The CIA trained Tibetan fighters, parachuted them back into Tibet, but stopped when China and the USA got into bed in 1972

In the 1960s, we formally fell out with China; the illusion of bhai bhai was shattered

India was preoccupied with the Naxal movement (encouraged by China), and insurgencies in the Northeast

In 2003, India recognized the Tibetan Autonomous Region as part of China (as quid pro quo for China’s acceptance of Sikkim’s reality)

China laughed all the way to the bank

And then came the climacteric in 2020. China overplayed its hand. India stood up to China and the world came together against China’s aggression

China always sees its territorial integrity as fragile

Children in Chinese schools are still taught that China’s borders are somewhere “out there”, and will be reclaimed in due course

The infamous (and imaginary) nine-dash line, accepted by no one, is the latest manifestation of this quest for territorial delimitation


In the two decades after the end of the Second World War, the West was focused on the revival of Europe and the East on decolonization

China screamed loudest (along with us) in the global decolonization process led by the nonaligned countries, so almost all nations overlooked its colonization of Tibet and Xinjiang

In 1959, the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee circulated a Xinhua News Agency internal report on how “the revolts in the Tibetan region have gathered pace and developed into a nearly full-scale rebellion”

Mao cynically responded: “More chaotic Tibet becomes the better; for it will help train our troops and toughen the masses… (it) will provide a sufficient reason to crush the rebellion and carry out reforms in the future”

Tibetans were to be cannon fodder

Following the 1959 Tibetan uprising, martial law remained in Lhasa till 1990

The world had little time for Tibet

In the 1970s China opened up, and the world was fascinated. Tibet remained forgotten

Tibet remained off the radar, sacrificed at the altar of economic expediency, except for a few solitary voices

In 1996 European Union (EU) Parliament condemned China for its repression of Tibetans

In 1989 when the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize, China fumed

The UN General Assembly condemned China’s disrespect for human rights in Tibet then looked elsewhere

Between 1958-1962, an estimated half million Tibetans were among the 50 million who died during famines caused by Mao Zedong’s disastrous Great Leap Forward

Present day China has introduced a horrible apartheid system for Tibetans and Uighurs and Kazakhs

Thanks to China’s conceit, Tibet is back in focus, an example of Robert Merton’s famous law of unintended consequences

We live in an attention economy, where everyone is trying to get everyone else’s attention

The social media is Tibet’s best weapon for it to regain its independence

A Bill was introduced in the US Congress late last year to recognize Tibet as an independent country

2008 witnessed a resurgence of Tibetan unrest, riots, protests, and demonstrations

In the eighth century the Tibetan Empire was the most feared political power in Asia

For a short period in 755 AD, Tibetans even captured Chang’an, then the capital of China, chasing the Chinese emperor and his court from the city

Buddhism has flourished in Tibet as nowhere else

Monasteries play a key role in Tibetan society. As centers of religion, they not only minister to the spiritual needs of their lay communities but also preserve and propagate religious and scholarly traditions

In recent times Tibet’s people and their culture have gained increasing attention as they wrestle with the challenge of holding on to their heritage

In late December 2020, US President Donald Trump signed off on the Tibet Policy and Support Act that reaffirms the right of Tibetans to choose a successor to the Dalai Lama, a move described by the Tibetan government-in-exile as a “powerful message of hope and justice” to Tibetans living in Tibet

Howling in protest, the Chinese foreign ministry called the legislation an attempt to meddle in China’s affairs

In January 2021, the US House of Representatives passed by an overwhelming vote a Bill that authorizes financial and travel sanctions against Chinese officials who interfere in the process of selecting the successor to the Dalai Lama Tibet

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi alleged on 10 March 2021 that China for decades has waged a campaign to destroy Tibet’s proud culture and history, asserting that the US will continue to stand with the Tibetan people and honour those who sacrificed all for their rights and freedom

This reference to commercial interests is significant for its implies a willingness to sacrifice profit for principle

And the Joe Biden administration has said that the Chinese government should have no role in the succession process of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama

The Chinese Communist Party’s sense of religion is absurd

China calls Hafiz Saeed a revered Islamic scholar and the Dalai Lama a terrorist and splittist

So China wants to select the next “terrorist”

2021 is the Year of the Ox, so naturally China will utter bullsh*t

For 70 years China has tried to Sinicize Tibet and failed

The Tibet question is at the forefront again, an unintended outcome of China’s quest for global supremacy

China has invested massively in infrastructure in Tibet, but generosity has failed to win loyalty

In August 2020, Xi PingPong told senior party leaders that China must build an “impregnable fortress” to maintain stability in Tibet by strengthening political and ideological education. So, they must plant seeds of loving China in hearts of every Tibetan youth to build a “united, civilized and beautiful new, modern, socialist Tibet”

Tibet is “uncivilized”!

PingPong added that Tibetan Buddhism must adapt to socialism and to Chinese conditions. We call this cultural genocide

Han Chinese men are being encouraged (with several state-sponsored benefits thrown in) to marry Tibetan women

Is this megalomania or dementia? Perhaps both

China has an inherent flaw. It seeks to impose uniformity by suppressing its minorities.1.3 bn Indians speak 22 official languages and practice the world’s six major religions

1.4 bn Chinese are being compelled to speak Mandarin and practice the Communist religion in which Xi Jinping is today’s God

Autocracy may be more efficient, democracy is more just

The real issue in China relationship with Tibet is of mindsets

Destroying a culture in practice while professing to support it in principle is a travesty

Respecting sovereignty is the most basic principle of international relations

In October 2020, the Pew Research Centre said that of over 14,000 people surveyed in 14 industrialized countries, ¾ had a negative view of China, that country’s lowest score since the survey began

To put it bluntly, repression in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang (Uighurs) were distant issues for most of us, but the Chinese virus has attacked us on our home soil

And when Ma Yun (also known as Jack Ma), once the poster boy for China’s economic “miracle”, disappears after criticizing Chinese state-owned banks, or when the 34-year old Chinese doctor Li Wenliang who first exposed the Wuhan virus in December 2019 (and was warned by the police to desist) dies in February 2020 reportedly of the virus, or when just a few months ago Dr Tao Lina of Shanghai who posts 73 side-effects of the much-hyped Chinese Sinopharm vaccine calling it the most “unsafe in the world” recants within hours (denouncing foreign media outlets for ‘twisting’ and ‘exploiting’ his words) and has his post taken down – we know what paradise with Chinese characteristics means!

Soon, their names will probably disappear from Google!

The US Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 modifies and re-authorizes various programmes and provisions related to Tibet and expresses concern over the exploitation of natural resources of Tibet, water in particular

As expected, China reacted with impotent rage and abuse

Beijing is a pariah, isolated and bewildered. Xi Jinping keeps telling his military to be ready for war in a split second (as though they spend all their time eating and drinking) and has assumed all power for himself

The world must emasculate China, militarily, politically, economically, if it is to prevent another cataclysm like those of 1914-1919 and 1939-1945

If Tibet goes its own way, China will either break up or dump Communism, and the world will be a safer place

The move for Tibet’s independence is being made. It is the need of the hour – an idea whose time has come. No power on earth can stop it

China’s policy in Tibet is clear – political repression, economic marginalization, social discrimination, cultural assimilation and environmental degradation

China wants to erase Tibet’s past, present and future

PingPong’s first official visit to Lhasa in July 2021 is a sign that he does not trust the nonsense his sidekicks are feeding him

During his visit, according to state media, Xi instructed local provincial officials to work towards making people in Tibet identify more with the “great motherland, Chinese people, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party and socialism with Chinese characteristics”

When the US Secretary of State met a representative of the Dalai Lama in New Delhi in end-July, China choked

The world is making China realize the eternal wisdom of Kautilya (Chanakya) in his 2,200-year-old Arthashastra: No ruler should embark on a military campaign just to satisfy his whim (because) direct administration of conquered territory could require more effort, money or even blood than it was worth


India-Tibet-World The saga of convenient oblivion -


Deepak Vohra

Ambassador Dr. Deepak Vohra, Made in India,
Special Advisor to Prime Minister, Lesotho, South Sudan and Guinea-Bissau,
Special Advisor to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils, Leh and Kargil, Gauri Sadan, 5 Hailey Road, New Delhi 110001.


I am not Indian because I live in India, I am Indian because India lives in me!

They said: Hide from the storm; I replied: I am the storm  


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