The Tibetan-China History

In today’s world, wars are not economically viable. There is a need for political will and system of give and take to resolve contentious issues. Having said that, I feel China’s apathy towards the Tibetan cause is highly condemnable.

I remember as a child running out of my home to see candle marches in late evenings by Tibetan folks in my town every now and then. That was some eighteen years back. But today, because of Beijing Olympics and the subsequent agitation bringing the attention of the world to the Tibetan crisis, I have realized that the fate of Tibet has been in the lurch for more than half a century now.

The struggle has been so uphill and sordid for the people of Tibet that in September 1987, the Dalai Lama recognized that independence for Tibet was no longer an option. Yet he asserted that the Tibetans will at least continue to strive for a genuine autonomy within China.

India ’s policy on Tibet has been a fairly safe and distanced in signing border trade agreements with China. In 1950 China’s People’s Liberation Army marched into Tibet and overpowered the centuries old monastic order led by the Dalai Lama which had declared its total independence from China in 1911. After taking over their territory, the Tibetans were compelled to sign an agreement on March 23, 1951 which affirmed Chinese sovereignty over the region. The agreement spelt out categorically that the existing political system of Tibet with Tibetan officials continuing would not be interfered with such that the authority and functions of the Dalai Lama would remain untouched.

Also, assurances to protect their freedom of religion and promote the development of the Tibetan language and culture were given. However, China not only violated these terms but also openly suppressed dissent leading to the Dalai Lama running his government in exile. Today, income for Tibetan monasteries and sources for preserving culture which is their sole plea has also been eschewed. And China is cleverly striking at the roots of the problem itself. Being primarily a communist nation, China believes in doing away with any form of civic, religious mobilization. Therefore, its ploy is to minimize inter-country, inter-cultural mobility so as to tailor the next generation of Tibetans in tune with the state policy where there is no room for resentment. No wonder Tibetans in other parts of the world find it close to impossible to get to their soil.

The plateau of Tibet, highly rich in mineral resources though unproductive from agriculture point of view, will never be relinquished by China, an economic powerhouse in the present day unless popular pressure is put on it. Besides, a ready field for nuclear testing available to China is also a major catch.

Our neighbor’s towering ambitions have led to serious confrontations with India too. China has been insisting that entire Arunachal Pradesh and large parts of Ladakh are parts of Tibet and are, therefore, integral parts of China. Tibetan representatives under the Dalai Lama have given up their claims to Andhra Pradesh in view of frontiers agreed upon by India and Tibet in 1914. It is odd that on China’s displeasure, the Prime Minister of India abandons his plan of visiting A.P. Is it that China’s status of being a permanent member of the Security Council has given it the privilege of arrogance?

China , one of the biggest trading partners of India, is sadly the same country which is reported to have crossed the Line of Control several times in the recent past since 2007.Creating tension on the border on the basis of unfounded claims and lashing out at New Delhi to contain its political activities, China is venturing too far.

Now, the task for India is only to maintain peace along its border with China and, within diplomatic bounds, to facilitate autonomy of Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s safe return to Tibet.

I just hope that the ties between the two countries remain cordial but trouble is, perhaps, imminent.

Vasundhara Sud

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