Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chindia: An attempt of Chinese betrayal? Part One

By Tenzin Lekshay

In the early twenty first century, decades after the collapse of Soviet Union, India and China emerge dominantly in the world politics with their economic and diplomatic puissance. America, the lone super power is struggling to fix the balance of power in the south Asian continent where India and China projected to spread their influences near and far. Subsequently, after the terror attack on World Trade Centre in 2001, America and her allied were tragically absorbed in the bloody Afghanistan and Iraq wars that created an amble opportunity for China to strengthen and master her soft power. Within few years, China succeeded in stretching her arms in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and Middle East. Even India with the virtue of possessing Nuclear weapons, had advanced her diplomacy and economy which makes India a rising regional power. But in Asia, since both China and India are rising, it apprehends danger of creating regional competition and tensions. In order to deescalate the surreptitious tension and to create a bilateral engagement, some experts promote 'Chindia' where both the governments emphasize on diplomatic, cultural and economic ties. As Pandit Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India plainly confides, 'future India and China will necessarily come nearer to each other'.1 The question remains whether these two Asian Giants will ever come closer to sustain the new phase of Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai.


India and China cherish their distinct and aged-old civilization for thousands of years, which helped significantly in their modernization. For many centuries, Buddhism culturally tied India and China. Apart from Buddhism, trade and commerce gained minimal significance as both the countries were distant neighbors separated by Tibet on the territorial spectrum. Just like Buddhism influenced China, China materially charmed India especially in Kerala,2 but many in India characterized Chinese as mere shoemakers and restaurateurs in Kolkata.3 Many of these Chinese settlers in India were the remnants of those Chinese who were expelled from Tibet via India during the reign of 13th Dalai Lama in 1913.4

During the 18th and 19th century, both China and India faced a critical era of challenges as China was under the feudalistic monarch system as a semi colonized nation whereas India was dominated by foreign imperialist. In early 20th century, many of the Indian political links with China was dictated by British India, which hitherto stands invalid with regarding to Tibet. On the social level, right from the time of boxer revolution till the awakening of Bourgeois revolution in China, many prominent Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Subhash Candra Bose and Gopal Krishna Gokhale and many others shared their deep concerns on China. Even within Chinese also, Liang Qichao and Kang Youwei shared the same sympathy on India during the British rule.5

After the communist China acceded to power in China, India under Pandit Nehru was first among the nations to accord diplomatic recognitions. Soon after in 1951, Communist China invaded Chamdo, the eastern provincial capital of the Tibetan Government. Tibetan delegations were sent to Beijing to negotiate with the Chinese leaders but were forced to sign an infamous Seventeen Point Agreement under duress.6 Indian leaders paid no heed to the political turmoil in Tibet that turned the geo-political scenario of Asian sub continent. Some prominent leaders like Sardar Patel raised the Tibet issues and warned a possible confrontations with China after the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China invaded Tibet.7 Regardless of such prophesied interventions, Nehru played a significant role as a guardian of nationalism and anti colonization, had accredited China with much affinity by reversing her foreign policy in accepting Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.

In 1954, Panchsheel agreement was signed between India and China which was considered a landmark in the history of Sino-Indian relations but was incongruously defined and incorrectly established as Acharya Kripalani and Jaya Prakash Narayan put it as 'Born in Sin'.8 Panchsheel, by meaning referred to Buddhist terminology, was agreed upon economic terms but utilized for political reasons which had favored China more than India. Nehru believed in rapprochement and friendliness with New China and helped secure China's membership in United Nations.9 India in obsession with the Asian stability, maintained cordial relationship with China, with an assumption that China will not engage in war. But unexpectedly, China's swift aggression on Tibet shocked Indian leadership, which led to the close proximity with China. The century old Indo-Tibetan borders, which was once considered a passage of knowledge and wisdom stretching along the Himalayan range from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh became Sino-Indian borders by overnight.

The expansionist Chinese's threat on Indian border security were and still overwhelming and the security issues were raised several times in the Indian parliament as early as 1950.10 Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sadar Patel, Dr. Rammanohar Lohia, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, Jaya Prakash Narayan, Acharya Kripalani and others stood to their cautious mind about the Chinese occupation of Tibet and its impacts on India. For China, occupying Tibet was not to liberate Tibet but to expand her territorial and political might. China, though a new nationalist independent state in 1950s relied heavily on her strong and oversized foot soldiers who went farthest to occupy in the name of reunification of Motherland. Soon after three weeks of 1954 agreement, Chinese incursion started on Indian frontiers but India bureaucrats were succumbed to their affinity with China and restrained military rebellion, even though Indian Army favored resistance.11 China violated the 1954 treaty since from its inception and launched military incursions on India in contrary to India, who judiciously abides by it even after experiencing betrayal in 1962.

For the past four decades, the ghost of 1962 haunted India, but India is maintaining its soft diplomacy with China on trade corporations, cultural exchanges and military diplomacy. Despite these forward looking and bilateral relations, Sino-Pakistan relations remain an agony for India. Establishment of Chinese ports in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal are troubling Indian security perspective on territorial as well as maritime basis.12 Newly established Sino-Nepal relations is disturbing and strategically a lapse on the Indian side. The border issue still remains disputed even after several rounds of talks and discussions but both the parties proclaim tranquility along the borders. It is disturbing to know about the factual data of Chinese incursions in Indian borders, which is ever increasing. In 2007, Indo-Tibetan Border Forces had reported over 170 Chinese incursions into Indian borders compared to 140 incursions in 2007.13

Economically, China is the number one business partner of India, but India stands behind when we look at China’s overall business transaction and partnership. Border trades were resumed in Nathu la lately but the markets are at the verge of collapsing without much trade, as the items for sales are restricted to few. Does it signify whether India is really focusing on economic relations or is it a part of soft diplomacy? India needs to observe whether their economic policy towards China works in favor of India taking into considerations of cheap Chinese goods dominating Indian market.

Sino-Indian war and aftermath:

Pandit Nehru, undoubtedly a great political leader was informed about the developments in Tibet but he had not taken seriously as he held a view that China will pose no danger to India even if Tibet comes under the regime. He never contemplated Chinese aggressions on Tibet. The new government under Nehru was groomed under tremendous pressures from both inside and outside, which left him in catch 22 situations. As political head of the nation, he vested in much of his energy to promote peaceful approaches with China but in doing so, he sacrificed Tibet. Interestingly, soon after China invaded Tibet, Nehru told Ambassador Panikkar that, “The Chinese government’s action has jeopardized our interest in Tibet and our commitments to Tibet,”.14 It poses many questions about India’s interest and commitments to Tibet. To summarize it, India’s interest on Tibet was based on political and security reasons though Nehru claimed in reverse and its commitments based on cultural aspects.15 The Dalai Lama called Indo-Tibetan relations as a Guru-Shisya (Teacher-Student) relationship based on Buddhism.

After the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Indo-China pact of Panchsheel was signed and Chou En Lai beguiled Chini-Hindi Bhai Bhai. But to a contrary, in 1954, Acharya Kripalani was skeptical and said, “I feel even if we go on emphasizing our friendship with China and saying Chini-Hindi, Bhai Bhai (India and China are brothers) to the end of days, I tell you that this nation will never be friendly to us. Why? Because a friendly nation does not go and howl at another nation in the public market.”16 Even U. M. Trivedi stated that ‘All the time when this Bhai Bhai business was being carried on by us, the man (Chou En Lai) was maneuvering to stab us in the back. It was during that time (1962) that he did stab us in the back.’17

Since 1954, many discussions were held in the Indian Parliament, and it took some eight years for India to realize the Chinese treachery. After the humiliating defeat of the month long Sino-Indian war in 1962, Indian Parliament roused to adopt a resolution to contemn the Chinese incursion on Indian borders. Chou En Lai was a shrewd leader who knew that talking about Sino-Indian border during the early stage of Chinese occupation of Tibet creates problem in maintaining their position in Tibet. Instead, he diverted on covering border trade, India went receptive of the China proposal. As per the request made by the Chinese leaders, India accepted to transport and supply rice to Tibet. Despite knowing the fact that rice were meant to feed huge Chinese armies inside Tibet, India made yet another blunder by transporting rice from India to Tibet.

In Tibet, China vested all her energy in constructing roads and highways covering over the borders south to India and to connect directly with the Mainland China. In reciprocate, Indian government woke up late and started focusing on building roads along their borders but in much slower pace as compared to China. Tarun Khana, a writer wonders, why can China build cities overnight while Indians have trouble building roads?”18 India lately became vigilant and alert on the borders when China consistently engaged her control over the Himalayan belts. Initially, Mao’s China had ambitiously drawn Ladakh, Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, and Arunachal Pradesh into their territories that needs to incorporate with China. In doing so, Tibet was like a palm and these five areas resemble five fingers for China. Initially, Chou En Lai stressed on reviving the Sino-Indian borders by rejecting the existing border, which he called a scar left by the Britain. India stands by Mcmohan line as the line of actual control, which was signed by the British and Tibetan delegations in 1914. China, though was part of the tripartite dialogue, but was not a signatory to the agreement. As of present, China considered a blunder if they agreed upon the existing line of control and that makes 4,000 km Sino-Indian border a disputed zone. It is understandably significant for the expansionist China to move forward into the Indian territories and claiming Tawang as a territorial part of PRC.

-Second Part will follow soon-


1) Jawarhalal Nehru's Address at the Sino-Indian Cultural Society General Body Meeting at Santiniketan on December 23, 1945

2) My Trust with India-China Friendship-A Talk at IGNCA, by K.P.S. Menon

3) How to understand China by V.V. Pranjpe

4) A History of Modern Tibet 1913-1951, Melvyn Goldstein, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd, reprinted 2007, pp. 59

5) Friendship in Need between Chinese and Indian People in Modern Times by Lin Chengjie

6) Tibet Under Communist China: 50 years, Department of Information and International Relations, 2001, pp. 5

7) India China Relations: The border issue and beyond, by Mohan Guruswamy and Zorawar Daulet Singh, Viva Books, 2009, pp. 52

8) Indian Leaders on Tibet, India Tibet Coordination Office, 2008, pp. 37 & 60

9) Are we deceiving ourselves Again? by Arun Shourie, ASA Publications, 2008, pp. 30

10) Indian Parliament in the Issue of Tibet, TPPRC, 2006, pp. 8

11) Letter from India: July 17, 1962 by Albert Wohlstetter

12) Dragon in our backyard, by Brahma Chellaney, Asian Age

13) Are we deceiving ourselves Again? by Arun Shourie, ASA Publications, 2008, pp. 24

14) Ibid, pp. 37

15) Ibid, pp. 52

16) Indian Leaders on Tibet, India Tibet Coordination Office, 2008, pp. 61

17) Indian Parliament in the Issue of Tibet, TPPRC, 2006, pp. 188

18) Billions of Entrepreneurs, Tarun Khana, Penguin Viking, 2007, pp. 7

The Spirit call Tibet

Tenzin Nyinjey

Last night I had an appointment with a Polish Journalist. We talked about Tibet, Tibet and Tibet. In fact it was I who did all the talking. To have an objective discussion on Tibet is one of the most difficult thing to do in this world. This is because the issue, especially for us Tibetans, is a very emotional one.

Considering the precarious situation of us exiled Tibetans, the only pragmatic thing we can do for Tibet is talk and debate on it. In the process, we can hope to find a new way for Tibet. Some actions can also be taken, and is being taken by courageous Tibetans - some non-violent protests, every now and then.

Such campaigns have been initiated ever since we were driven out of our homeland – way back in 1949. Its been a long time back now. Fifty years might not be a long time for a national liberation struggle. They say India fought for two hundred years before it became independent. But then we should also remember that it took just thirty odd years to completely change the face of China. The country was one of the poorest in the world when it was established in 1949. But now it is considered as the future superpower, overpowering even the mighty United States.

Sadly, no concrete solution has been found for Tibet. Tibetans on both sides of the Himalayas continue to suffer severe repression and national humiliation. Democracy, human rights, economic development, global warming, rule of law, freedom, dignity – these are luxurious items for us.

We don’t even have a secure base. We are not sure of what will happen tommorrow. Despite such tough conditions, Tibetans have so far kept the issue of Tibet alive. It has remained steadfast to its struggle for national freedom. China keeps on lecturing on “peace and stability” in Tibet. This is a clear indication that so far it has not been able to pacify Tibet.

Although China controls Tibet physically thanks to its overwhelming force represented by the People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police, it has not been able to extinguish the flame of freedom that burns in the heart of every Tibetan. Be they communist cadres, monks, nuns, or common Tibetans, all of them know that Tibet is an occupied country. They know that the identity of Tibet can be secured only when the Chinese are driven out of Tibet.

And herein lies the significance. As long as the spirit of the Tibetans last, as long as the will and aspiration to resist Chinese colonialism continues, there is always hope for Tibet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

In Hope We Trust

Tenzin Nyinjey

Everything that has been done in this world is done by hope --Martin Luther King

'Exile', said Salman Rushdie, 'is the dream of return; dream of returning to one's homeland'. The Tibetan exiles too dream of returning to their country one day. This is the dream that sustains us; the dream of uniting with their brothers and sisters, the dream of reconstructing Tibet on our own terms and conditions. This is the dream that has survived strongly in us against all odds. Wars, famine, and the almost total destruction in our country of our civilization, our culture, of what we most value and cherish, have not deterred us from giving up our dream. We strive always to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Dreams, they say, can come true if we stubbornly cling to them, and do not lose faith and courage.

We Tibetans hope against hope that our country will be once again free from Chinese bondage, destruction and slavery. Hope is what carries us forward and strengthens our belief that global common sense and rationality, that ultimately peace and justice will prevail. Hope is what sustains us, encourages us to move forward and work even harder for our country, our freedom, our human right to exist.

It is this hope, this strength, that has kept the issue of Tibet alive. It is this hope that inspires good people of the free world with moral conscience to support the Tibetan cause. It is this hope that gives we Tibetan exiles a meaningful and purposeful life. It is this hope - the hope to return to a free Tibet, where we will have the freedom to speak our minds, the freedom to practice our religion, the freedom to write in our own language without any grim reprisals, fear and suspicion– that has made us survive and endure the wearying complexities of an often depressing exiled life.

And then the most inspiring of all are our brothers and sisters in Tibet. The indomitable spirit and resistance of the Tibetans inside Tibet, their heroism and sacrifices, many even giving up their very lives for Tibet; the fact that they have not strayed from the principles of peaceful and non-violent struggle, in spite of being subjected to the worst forms of indignity and humiliation, give us the vigor and strength to move on. We live our lives with them always in our minds and our hearts.

The undying flame of Tibetan struggle

Tenzin Lekshay
Atharva, Volume V, No. 5, May 1 2009

Ever since the brutal occupation of Tibet in 1959, Communist China dictates Tibet under tyranny followed by death of more than a million Tibetans and destroyed almost all sacred monasteries and learning centers which had its root in India. The sagas and the prefect legacy of great Indian masters preserved well in Tibet for centuries were reliantly subjected to the formidable forces of atheist Chinese forces. Thus, leaving Tibet a barren field of humiliation, chaos and of course an irreversible vacuum in terms of age-old culture. Tibet, the land of god or 'Dev Bhumi', as some mystically calls 'Shangrila', ceased to exist with ruins of monasteries. Since then Tibet cries!!

The Dalai Lama, the supreme and the benevolent leader of Tibet had no choice other than seeking refuge in India amid frightening circumstances of uneasiness between the Chinese aggressors and the Tibetan Government. He was then, followed by 80 thousand Tibetans settling in India, Nepal and Bhutan. As a Buddhist, we seek refuge of three precious jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha). But after coming into India, we sought yet another kind of refugee, that is refuge for survival. Survival of race and identity are our prime concerns and the Indian government was generous enough to shelter the Tibetans into the sea of millions of Indians and assisted us with a humble humanitarian support.

Yet, millions of Tibetans in Tibet are still forced to languish silently and intolerably under the gruesome fear of Chinese repression. Fear unto the survival of race is imminent with a vigorous implementation of various national policies targeting Tibet as its foreground to capsulate their oversized ambition of modern day colonization. Under the helmsman of Chairman Moa Tsetung, China rises from a decaying dust of Middle Kingdom to an opportunist master who declared supremacy of Han nationality. The bloody movement resurrected the Chinese people to march into Tibet even after the Long March was long halted within China. The march without the consensus of Tibetan people had been widely criticized by the Tibetans who were staggered with many battles and rebellions. Initial persuasion of gradualism intended by Mao was shunned instantaneously with the disagreement of Tibetan masses and the Tibetan Government. In May 23, 1951, after the defeat of Tibetan army in Chamdo, the eastern fortress of the Tibetan government, Ngapo Jigme, the governor and the Tibetan delegation were forced to sign the infamous 17 Point Agreement with the Chinese invaders. With an intention of annexing Tibet, China sent thousands of People's Liberation Army into Tibet though the Tibetan leaders complained of maintaining a small contingent of armies. The large influx of Chinese armies within a short span of time had adversely affected the Tibetan economy with severe inflation. The normal equilibrium of Tibetan economy was acutely crippled with high demand of food supplies, which ultimately led to disastrous famine all over Tibet, accounted first in Tibetan history. Since then Tibet cries!!

For the past 60 years, China’s iron curtain over Tibet has been outrageously promoted first as a liberation of Tibetans from the so-called ‘evil rooted feudalistic rule’ and later focused on liberalization of economic development. But neither of them had helped Tibetans better than the Chinese themselves. The very purpose of occupying Tibet was to accomplish their three main goals of accommodating out numbered Chinese people, exploitation of abundant resources and ambitious territorial expansion. When whole world witnessed the post colonization era of attaining independence, Tibet looses its freedom, in spite of rigorous international lobbies. In 1956, when His Holiness visited India for the commemoration of 2,500th Death anniversary of Lord Buddha, met with Prime Minister Nehru to discuss the future status of Tibet. China’s Chou en Lie flew directly from China to pursue the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet with an assurance that Tibet be under normalcy. However, China had not stopped pushing their aggressive campaigns inside Tibet even after His Holiness’ return to Lhasa, thus leading more chaos and upheavals. In 1959, Tibetan people’s uprising against the Chinese oppression broke out and the Dalai Lama was forced to leave Tibet into exile.

During those days, India was a newly established state longing for prosperity and development. Rapid industrial transformation with an adoption of Soviet styled Five-year plans was the prime concern of the Indian leaders. Tibet issue though critical to India’s security was least bothered as India was entangled in her own politico-social problems, which were disturbing. Jawaharlal Nehru and K. M. Panikkar influenced India’s Tibet policy that the British India had followed, recognizing China’s suzerainty over Tibet but not sovereignty over Tibet and had assured of recognition to all the past treaties signed upon by Tibetan and British India. After India gained her independence in 1947, Tibetan delegation was invited for the Asian Relations Conference held in Delhi, despite Kuomintang protest. Jawaharlal Nehru also condemned the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950 and asserted strongly that ‘the last voice in regard to Tibet should be the voice of the people of Tibet and of nobody else’.

For centuries, Tibet as a Buddhist State engaged and emerged predominantly on religo-political doctrine based on friendly neighborhood by regarding India as a Guru and China as a Patron. Guru-Shishya (master and disciple) relationships between India and Tibet went back to 7th centuries since the time Buddhism flourished in Tibet. Subsequent exchange of scholars took place between India and Tibet. Many great Indian masters were invited by Tibetan kings such as Tantric master Guru Padmasambhava, abbots of the great Nalanda University like Shantirakshita and Atisha, Kamalasila and many others. Many Tibetan scholars also visited India in seeking full knowledge of Buddhism like Marpa and Lotsawa Rinchen Sangpo.

Priest-Patron Relationship between Tibet and China came lately and was reestablished in 1639 by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama with the Manchu Emperor, who conquest China and established Qing Dynasty. Prior to that, Tibetans have Priest-Patron (Choyon) Relationship with Mongol Kings in 13th Century. China presently claims that Tibet was a part of China since 13th Century as Mongol Dynasty conquered and ruled China. However, King Godan Khan of Mongol had given temporal authority over Tibet to the preeminent Sakyapa Lama and later in 1260, Kublia Khan conferred Chogyal Phagpa a secular authority of Tibet before he took control of China, founding Mongol Yuan Dynasty in 1279. These historical facts rejected China’s claim of Tibet since 13th Century.

However, in a modern geopolitical spectrum, Tibet was sandwiched between two Asian giants namely India and China, It played a vital role in maintaining the balance of power and remained as a buffer state. But after the illegal occupation of Tibet, territorial outreach of China towards west expends far towards Central Asia. Even the Sino-Pakistan relationship deepens onto cross border affinity, which ultimately sparks a huge disturbance in the Indo-Pakistan affairs.

Over the past 60 years, China poured millions of Mainland Chinese into Tibet, which threatens the very survival of Tibetan identity and cultures. China initially started sending thousands of armed personals into Tibet to secure its control over the borders. As of present, China maintains about 16 to 18 divisions of armies in Tibet, facing India in Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin in Kashmir. A minor disposition of troops is maintained in the central sector are to safeguard supply routes. In all, 240,000 men are lightly equipped mountain divisions, which are very vulnerable to use during the cross border conflicts with India. India accuses China of illegally occupying 43,180 square kilometers (16,672 square miles) of territory belonging to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, including 5,180 square kilometers (2,000 square miles) ceded to China by Pakistan. China militarized Tibet not only to contend India but also to expend further to merge the other peripheries into the Middle Kingdom. It is thus, a great cause of concerns for India as China continues to consider Tibet as a strategic point in terms of politics and military. The rapid militarization in Tibet also caused a colossal damage to the Tibet’s ecology as heavy industrial projects move into Tibet.

In 1984, 43 development projects were launched to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the TAR in 1985. Similarly in 1994, 62 development projects worth of US$29 billion were launched in connection with the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the TAR in 1995. Most of them were spent on heavy projects like hydropower, railways and roadways.

It is estimated that Golmud-Lhasa Railway budget was around 26.2bn Yuan (£1.8bn). Tibetan people in the diaspora saw the opening of Golmud-Lhasa Railway as a plot to invade Tibet for the second time. The Dalai Lama regarded the railway as a tool of “cultural genocide.” It has been reported that Golmud-Lhasa Railway has been used to transport nearly 6,000 Chinese to Lhasa daily and the number of returnees are significantly less than the numbers of those who arrived in Lhasa.

The construction of railway was mainly to serve a political need rather than the developmental needs of the Tibetan people. Jiang Zemin forthrightly acknowledged the political importance of the railway as it increases Chinese economic migration into Tibet, thus further diluting the Tibetan population. The TAR’s Communist Party Chief, Zhang Qingli, similarly remarked that the railway “presents a precious opportunity to ensure the country's lasting order and stability.” Clearly, the railway ultimately threatens Tibet's cultural survival. Moreover, it is not unreasonable to conclude that this is precisely the intent of the PRC authorities.

In 1987, when Deng Xiaoping visited United States, he stated, “Tibet cannot develop on its own... It should seek help from fraternal provinces and municipalities (in China)... We need to get large numbers of Han comrades in Tibet so that they can impart scientific and technological know-how, share their scientific management expertise, and help Tibet train scientific, technological, managerial personnel to speed up its economic development.” China has further claimed that economic development leads to an increase in employment opportunities for the Tibetans while also serving the policy of population transfers. The empirical evidence does not support these claims. For instance, as to the railway project itself, out of the 38,000 railway-related jobs open to workers, only few were given to Tibetans. In short, the arrival of Chinese immigrants have distorted the labor opportunities within the Tibetan economy, favoring Chinese settlers over Tibetans.

Tibet a “Western Treasure” has 126 different minerals with a significant share of the entire world’s reserves of Gold, Chromite, Copper, Borax and Iron. Tibet has 15,000 natural lakes and research figures show that rivers originating in Tibet sustain the lives of 47 percent of the world’s population and 85 percent of Asia’s total population. Tibet’s forests covered 25.2 million hectares and Tibet has two major oil deposits namely; Tsaidam Basin in Amdo (Qinghai) and Chang Thang.

Chinese government has predominantly engaged in exploiting and extracting the rich natural resources of Tibet, which consequently led to widespread environmental destruction. Excessive deforestation, uncontrolled mining, water pollution and nuclear waste dumping, has resulted in the degradation of grasslands, extinction of wildlife, desertification, floods, soil erosion and landslides. This irreversible damage is a cause of great concerns not only for the Tibetan people but also for the whole world.

Severe floods frequently occurred not only in Tibet but also in China, India and other Asian subcontinent countries due to the continual deforestations taking place at the source of the rivers. For instance, in summer 1998, the most devastating flooding of Yangtze River killed between 3,656 and 10,000 people and affecting the lives of l240 millions with 5.6 million homes destroyed. It also destroyed 4.8 million hectares of crops and 64 hectares of farmland in China.

China sees the Tibetan plateau as its largest forest zone. It has established some 70 state logging enterprises, which have cut a total of 120 million cubic meters of wood from the forest of eastern Tibet (Sichuan). It is reported that China succeeded in reducing Tibet's forest cover from 25.2 million hectares to 13.57 million hectares between 1950 and 1985.

Global warming is also causing Tibet's glaciers to melt faster than expected at a rate of 7 per cent annually, allegedly triggering droughts, expanding desertification and increasing sandstorms throughout the PRC. It will cause a huge impact on water supplies over much of Asia as many of the continent’s great rivers including the Yangtze, the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Mekong and the Yellow river originated on the plateau.

In order to resolve the Sino-Tibetan conflict, the Dalai Lama initially adopted ‘Middle Way Approach’ in 1979. Later, Tibetans in diaspora approved it through democratically engaged participations. In 1987, the Dalai Lama delivered his Five Point Peace plan at the Congressional Human Right Caucus at Washington DC. He asked for the earnest negotiation of the future status of Tibet in order to resolve the Chinese and Tibetan relations. The Dalai Lama later proposed a referendum in 1996 and 1997 that the Tibetan people should decide the best means to realize the cause of Tibet after he failed to get a favorable response for the Chinese government. A preliminary opinion poll was conducted in which more than 64% of the total opinion letters received expressed their support to the Middle-Way Approach, or whatever decisions the Dalai Lama takes in accordance with the changing political situation in China. To this effect, the Tibetan Parliament in Exile adopted a unanimous resolution on 18 September 1997 in favor of the Middle Way Approach.

The Chinese leadership is more concerned with the past history. It claim’s that Tibet is historically part of China. It claims that Tibet was a part of China prior to the “liberation” of Tibet in 1951. The invasion of Tibet is an ideological accusation where the communist claim that their revolution was based on anti-imperialism. The Chinese leaders are therefore paranoid about the slightest implication that Tibet was ever an independent state in the past. On the contrary, the Dalai Lama is primarily focused on the future prospects of preserving Tibetan culture, religion and Tibetan identity whereby Tibetan can live happily with the Chinese. Lodi Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, emphasized that Middle Way approach represents the Dalai Lama’s commitment to look to the future, instead of the past, to find a solution that will provide maximum autonomy for the Tibetan people and bring peace and stability to the PRC and the entire region.

After several rounds of talks in the 1980s, the formal dialogue ceased in 1993 due to the lack of political will on the part of Chinese leaders. The Dalai Lama persisted in engaging a dialogue. The Dalai Lama tried to seek an informal channel of communication with the Chinese officials and thereafter succeeded in holding three rounds of meetings. But in 1998, all the communication came to an end. Repressive policies in Tibet soon followed. However, in 2002 meetings with the Chinese officials concerning the Tibet policy resumed and since then, the Tibetan delegation has been able to visit various places in Tibet and China.

Significant ideological differences lies between the TGiE and the Chinese Government in its demand for democratic reforms in the future Tibet. Another hindrance to negotiation is the reunification of the areas covering the Tibetan populace, which include those places in Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu. Hu Yoabang once told Gyalo Thondup, elder brother of the Dalai Lama in 1981 that “this is a new idea which needs to be considered.” Ulan Fu, the founder of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in China also supported the Tibetan demand, which he recalled that the late Zhou Enlai assured the Tibetan delegates to the 17 Point Agreement in 1951 that the question of reunification of inner and outer Tibet would be separately looked into. The Chinese Constitution and National Autonomy Law provided such eligibility to form a separate political entity within the same minority group.

In 2008, three rounds of talks between the exile emissary and the Chinese leaders were held in China amidst large-scale demonstrations and protests in Tibet. More than 200 Tibetans were killed by the Chinese armed forces and thousands were arrested as estimated by the exile Tibetan government, though China claims only of 22 death. The resentment and frustrations among the Tibetans are running high against the regime as Tibet was virtually put under Martial Law. The Political re-education campaign was re-enforced in the Tibetan monasteries under strict surveillances. Tibet once again became ‘Hell on Earth’ as hardliners imposed stringent rules in control of Tibet by widely criticizing the Dalai Lama for inciting the demonstrations. However, the Dalai Lama continues to promulgate peace and nonviolence in resolving Tibetan issues.

Though for the past 50 years, the Chinese repressive rules over Tibet succeeded under the barrel of guns, the determination of Tibetans to free Tibet from the cling of tyranny is certain as world pressures are mounting on China.