Friday, May 9, 2008



(Based on the writer's visit to Shanghai from May 6 to 9,2008, for a discussion on the "Beijing Olympics & Security" )

Why anger?

2.Because of what the Tibetans did in Lhasa on March 14,2008, when there was large-scale violence directed at the Han Chinese and their property and thereafter in other Tibetan-inhabited areas outside the Tibet autonomous region.

3. Because of what the Chinese perceive and allege as the role played by the Dalai Lama, the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and some members of the Tibetan diaspora in the West in instigating this violence.

4.Because of the alleged role played by Western---particularly American --- human rights activists and non-governmental organisations such as the US-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED),the Germany-based Neumann Stiftung (Foundation) and the France-based "Reporters Without Frontiers" in instigating, funding and encouraging this violence.

5. Because of what the Chinese indignantly describe as the baseless allegations disseminated by the Dalai Lama, his advisers and the TYC regarding large-scale deaths of Tibetans during firing by the Chinese security forces in Lhasa and cultutal genocide in Tibet.

6. Because of what the Chinese describe as a mischievous, motivated and one-sided projection of the events by most of the Western media.

7. They do not hesitate to call the Dalai Lama, the TYC and their supporters as a pack of dishonest liars who have learnt the techniques of disinformation from their Western---particularly American-- supporters and funders.

8. They point out that while nearly 20 Hans were brutally killed by Tibetan mobs on March 14,2008---with some of them burnt alive--- there was not a single instance of retaliatory killing of Tibetans by the Hans. Even according to the Dalai Lama's version, the Tibetans who were killed died in the action taken by the security forces to quell violence by the Tibetan mobs and not at the hands of Han civilians, who, it is said, conducted themselves with great restraint despite the Tibetan attacks on them.

9. All sections of the Chinese one met were outraged that while the Western media played up what the Chinese describe as the baseless stories of the Dalai Lama's set-up, they blacked out the version of the Chinese Government.

10. Surprise was expressed over the fact that even large sections of the Indian media and analysts mainly accepted the Western and the Dalai Lama's versions, and ignored the Chinese Government's version or played it down.

11. The Dalai Lama----who is contemptuously referred to as Dalai or as the head of the Dalai clique--- is the most distrusted and disliked figure in China. He is seen as a double-dealer, as a man who says one thing, but does another, who keeps changing his position frequently depending on the prevailing circumstances.

12. According to them, the Dalai Lama openly talks of autonomy, but secretly asks the TYC to fight for independence, openly preaches non-violence, but secretly asks the TYC to take to violence, openly supports the holding of the Olympics in Beijing, but secretly asks the TYC to co-operate with Western---particularly American---human rights groups in sabotaging it.

13.How can we seriously deal with a person like him, who does not inspire confidence and trust, they ask. They are outraged by his demand for a Greater Tibet by merging in Tibet other Tibetan-inhabited areas of China, which do not now form part of the Tibet autonomous region and rule out even discussing this with him.

14. It is apparent that while they might be prepared to talk with the representatives of the Dalai Lama about his own future as the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, they might not be prepared to discuss with him the future of Tibet. They dismiss firmly any suggestions for a Hong Kong or Taiwan style status for Tibet under the one country, two systems formula. They seem to suspect that the Dalai Lama's strategy is to come back to Tibet under an agreement with the Chinese, re-assume his political role and create a Taiwan-like situation by introducing a multi-party liberal democracy on the Indian model.

15. The TYC is widely seen as a terrorist organisation no different from Al Qaeda or the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). They claim to have captured arms and ammunition from the possession of TYC supporters in Tibet. The argument that the Dalai Lama is a good man, a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, a charismatic religious personality and has had no role in the radicalisation of the TYC falls on deaf ears.

16. There is appreciation of the stand taken by the Government of India that it would not allow the Dalai Lama's set-up to indulge in anti-Chinese activities from Indian territory and of the measures taken by the Government to ensure a safe passage for the Olympic Flame through New Delhi.

17. At the same time, one could discern an air of puzzlement over what is apparently perceived as the inaction of the Government of India against the TYC---particularly some American nationals of Tibetan origin, who now seem to dominate its policy-making and activities.

18. The Olympic flame has been successfully taken to the top of the Everest. It is proposed to be taken across the Tibetan-inhabited areas, including Tibet, in the third week of June.If there is a fresh outbreak of violence during that period, one should not be surprised if the Chinese authorities take up with the Government of India the question of arresting and extraditing to China those whom they might perceive as the ring leaders of the TYC-sponsored violence. (10-6-08) To be continued.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )



(Based on the writer's visit to Shanghai from May 6 to 9,2008, for adiscussion on the "Beijing Olympics & Security" )

This was my second visit to Shanghai. The first was in May,2002, to attend an Asia-Pacific conference on terrorism in the aftermath ofthe 9/11 terrorist strikes. The latest visit was to attend a localdiscussion on terrorism ahead of the forthcoming Olympics at Bejingin August,2008.

2. Growing, growing, growing and still growing. That is the only wayof describing this city of which the Chinese are rightly proud.Shanghai of May,2008, is unrecognisable from the Shanghai ofMay,2002. It has developed horizontally and vertically and continuesto develop.

3. Statistics are irrelevant with regard to Shanghai. The statisticsof today will become outdated next week and so on. That is the paceof its development. Shanghai is proud that every important country ofthe world is represented there--- in its industries, in its businessworld, in its financial centres, in its architecture and in its artsand culture.

4. Shanghai is a miracle within a miracle. If China is rapidlyovertaking the rest of Asia----even the rest of the world---in itseconomic development and modernisation, Shanghai has alreadyovertaken the rest of China many times over in every aspect.

5. The Chinese without any exception and without any hesitation givethe credit to the late Deng Xiao-ping, the father of modern China, forthe economic miracle achieved within a short period of three decadesin the country as whole and even a shorter period of 16 years inShanghai.

6. He not only liberated the Chinese economy from the stranglehold ofthe State, but more important, also simultaneously liberated theChinese mind-set from the stranglehold of past prejudices, suspicionsand outmoded thinking. He made the Chinese overcome their traditionalsuspicions of foreigners and welcome everybody----whatever be his orher nationality--- who wanted to contribute to China's development.Without the liberation of the mind-set, the liberation of the economyalone may not have achieved the kind of miracle, which the world haswitnessed. That is the point which is stressed repeatedly by one'slocal interlocutors.

7. Another point which is equally stressed is that India is still farfrom achieving a similar miracle because the liberation of its economyhas not been accompanied by a similar liberation of the Indianmind-set from the stranglehold of its past prejudices, suspicions andways of thinking. As an example, a reference is made to its inabilityto get over the memories of the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and move aheadin developing co-operation with China much more rapidly than has beenpossible so far.

8. At the same time, one finds an inability even in the Chinese mindto rid itself of its ancient thinking in matters such as recovery ofterritory, which they look upon as rightfully belonging to China.Arunachal Pradesh---particularly Tawang--- is a glaring example. Whysuch rigidity on Tawang?

9. "Because our Tibetan people would not let us accept Indian controlof Tawang," one is told. Why the Tibetans would not agree? In responseto this question, one is told: ' Because Tawang is of religious andemotional importance to them. Tawang is as sacred to the TibetanBuddhists as Jerusalem is to the Jewish people. One of the pastDalai Lamas was born in Tawang. Recognising Tawang as Indian territorywould amount to recognising that he was an Indian citizen. How can the Tibetans do it? "

10.It is recognised that the sensitivities of both the countries areinvolved in Tawang. India cannot agree to a change of the status quo.China, it is said, cannot accept the status quo. A possible solutioncould be status quo plus with both the countries sharing theresponsibility for the administration and development of this area, itis said. It is pointed out that China and Japan are attempting asimilar solution towards the East China Sea islands, which both claim.

11.What strikes one during a short stay of four days is the tremendousnational pride of the Chinese people----pride over their past, prideover their present, pride over their achievements,and pride over thepolicies of their leadership, which have produced the miracle. One candiscern this pride everywhere and in everyone---young or old, man orwoman.

12. One cannot dismiss this pride by calling it simplistically as narrow nationalism, as many sections of the Western media try to do.China's greatest strength is not its military power or economic muscle, but this national pride. This pride has been hurt by what is perceived as the attempts made by some sections of the internationalcommunity to tarnish China's image on the eve of the Olympics. Next to this national pride, the emotion which strikes one is a mixture of anger, sorrow and suspicion due to the recent events in Tibet and insome Western cities during the passage of the Olympic flame.(10-5--08) To be continued
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt.of India, New Delh, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre ForChina Studies. E-mail: )