India can do better on Tibet

India muddled on the protests, but it must rethink its Tibet policy

When China’s prime minister said he “appreciated” the Indian government’s response to public protests by Tibetan refugees, many interpreted that he was sending over a note of thanks. But Wen Jiabao’s statement could actually have been a warning.

“The Tibetan issue is a very sensitive one in our relations with India,” Mr Wen was quoted as saying by AFP news agency. “We appreciate the position and the steps taken by the Indian government in handling Tibetan independence activities masterminded by the Dalai clique.” [‘BBC’]

It is the first sentence sets the context.

As The Acorn argued while criticising the decision to stop protesters from attempting to cross over into Tibet, there is room for India to take a position that is less deferential to China. Sumit Ganguly similarly condemns the Indian government for cracking down on peaceful protesters and notes that being seen as unwilling to offend China will make “India’s claims to great power status in Asia, let alone beyond, appear utterly hollow”.

In Brahma Chellaney’s opinion, “it is past time India reclaimed leverage by subtly changing its stance on Tibet.” He proposes three changes: first, that India must bring Tibet back into focus in bilateral negotiations, placing the onus on Beijing to make Tibet a political bridge between the two countries; second, that India should treat the Dalai Lama as an ally and plan for the time when he is no longer on the scene; and third, India should stop “gratuitously referring to Tibet as a part of China”.

12 thoughts on “India can do better on Tibet”

  1. I have been thinking along the same lines too. If one were to see the map of Tibet, it borders both Aksai Chin and entire North east border with India until Myanmar. It’s in our security and national interest to prompt independence in Tibet – if not independence then at least wide-autonomy. We won’t have border with China and we won’t have these Tawang and Aksai China – western and eastern border – issues.

    The long shadow of Nehru’s silly foreign policies come into play here. Here is China degrading our strategic space by supplying nuclear weapons and missiles to LoP and here we are sitting and twiddling our thumbs with Dalai Lama under our protection for the past 50 years.

    Americans or the Russian or the Chinese or even the Pakistani generals would have turned this thing around into their favour. Indian foreign policy and political establishments really are strategic pygmies when it comes national security.

  2. India needs to take back aksai chin from China. India needs to change the ‘one China’ policy, to openly support the independence of Tibet and Taiwan. This nehruvian mentality of either being ‘friends’ with or being ‘afraid of’ the chinese needs to end.

    Chinese have enemies within their neighborhood and internal conflicts that need to be exploited. The uighurs, the tibetans, the banned buddhists monks or christian missionaries, the tianemen activists, who have no love lost for Chinese communists, need to be united to form a fifth column. It can be done under the guise of ‘promoting democracy’, what’s a better cause ? =) The disintegration of the USSR has shown that authoritarian regimes seem a lot more substantial then they really are and can be brought down.

    The vietnamese have fought the chinese for a 1000 years, taiwanese want their own country, what better allies for India ? The US is nervous about the rise of communist China, the Japanese are concerned about the historial greivances of the chinese, we can harness these anxieties to ally with these powers countering chinese moves in Pakistan, Srilanka and Burma. Russians are more of a dicey prospect but perhaps they can be kept neutral if not tilted towards India.

    Before all that, the communist Indian parties should be purged for it’s pro-china tilt, and prosecuted for treason.

    The tibetan protests cannot be yet considered a ‘crisis’, but if it does develop in one, India needs to remember what JFK said, the chinese word for crisis has two symbols, one meaning ‘danger’ the other ‘opportunity’.

  3. “friends-of-china rule India”. So there is no scope for betterment of India’s policies (if it had one) towards Tibet.

    Acorn begins to forget things; getting old ??

  4. The whole thing has just been a debacle. I wonder what the pattern of decisionmaking actually is? Its obvious that India’s strategic elite is very wary of China. But, I don’t think MEA has too much leeway in this matter. Perhaps, it’s PMO that is advocating the appeasement of China. Remember Manmohan’s “engagement with China is a strategic imperative” line? Enough is enough, no more of this Hindi-Chenee Bhai-Bhai nonsense.

    I yearn for the day when the see the return of foreign-policy hawks like Jaswant Singh & Brajesh Mishra to power. Till then, those advocating Chamberlain-esque capitulation will continue to dominate and fritter away this country’s carefully nurtured diplomatic capital.

  5. I agree with you completely. After reading so many articles and comments against India supporting Tibet, it is a relief to find some words of support and reason here.
    Wen Jiabo’s statement is both a thank you message and a warning to India. India needs to take a stronger stand now. On Tuesday, CNNIBN questioned the Congress Spokesperson on why it was not doing enought to support Tibet apart from meek statements like “calling for restraint”. “What do you want us to do”, he asked haughtily, “roll tanks into Lhasa?” This is the very attitude that needs to be change. Mr.Spokesperson, India can start by releasing the “Return To Tibet” marchers who are still in Jail right now.

  6. I don’t get why India should support Tibetan protests?

    We don’t want outsiders supporting protests in Kashmir or North East. But we people want India to support Tibetan protests. If India supports Tibetan protests, China would overtly support those protests I mentioned at the start and we would be in trouble.

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