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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Shanghai Diary: Miracle within a miracle -- Part I

May 15, 2008

B Raman was in Shanghai from May 6 to 9 for a discussion on 'Beijing
Olympics and Security'. This is his second visit to Shanghai. The
first was in May, 2002, to attend an Asia-Pacific conference on
terrorism in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist strikes. This is the
second of a three-part series on his impressions of China.
B Raman (India)
May 12, 2008 | 15:39 IST

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

Statistics are irrelevant with regard to Shanghai. The statistics of
today will become outdated next week and so on. That is the pace of
its development. Shanghai is proud that every important country of
the world is represented there -- in its industries, in its business
world, in its financial centres, in its architecture and in its arts
and culture.

Shanghai is a miracle within a miracle. If China is rapidly
overtaking the rest of Asia -- even the rest of the world -- in its
economic development and modernisation, Shanghai has already
overtaken the rest of China many times over in every aspect.

The Chinese without any exception and without any hesitation give the
credit to the late Deng Xiao-ping, the father of modern China, for
the economic miracle achieved within a short period of three decades
in the country as whole and even a shorter period of 16 years in Shanghai.

He not only liberated the Chinese economy from the stranglehold of
the state, but more important, also simultaneously liberated the
Chinese mind-set from the stranglehold of past prejudices, suspicions
and outmoded thinking. He made the Chinese overcome their traditional
suspicions of foreigners and welcome everybody -- whatever be his or
her nationality -- who wanted to contribute to China's development.

Without the liberation of the mind-set, the liberation of the economy
alone may not have achieved the kind of miracle, which the world has
witnessed. That is the point which is stressed repeatedly by one's
local interlocutors.

Another point which is equally stressed is that India is still far
from achieving a similar miracle because the liberation of its
economy has not been accompanied by a similar liberation of the
Indian mind-set from the stranglehold of its past prejudices,
suspicions and ways of thinking. As an example, a reference is made
to its inability to get over the memories of the Sino-Indian war of
1962 and move ahead in developing co-operation with China much more
rapidly than has been possible so far.

At the same time, one finds an inability even in the Chinese mind to
rid itself of its ancient thinking in matters such as recovery of
territory, which they look upon as rightfully belonging to China.

Arunachal Pradesh -- particularly Tawang -- is a glaring example. Why
such rigidity on Tawang?

"Because our Tibetan people would not let us accept Indian control of
Tawang," one is told. Why the Tibetans would not agree? 'Because
Tawang is of religious and emotional importance to them. Tawang is as
sacred to the Tibetan Buddhists as Jerusalem is to the Jewish people.
One of the past Dalai Lamas was born in Tawang. Recognising Tawang as
Indian territory would amount to recognising that he was an Indian
citizen. How can the Tibetans do it?"

It is recognised that the sensitivities of both the countries are
involved in Tawang. India cannot agree to a change of the status quo.

China, it is said, cannot accept the status quo. A possible solution
could be status quo plus with both the countries sharing the
responsibility for the administration and development of this area,
it is said. It is pointed out that China and Japan are attempting a
similar solution towards the East China Sea islands, which both claim.

What strikes one during a short stay is the tremendous national pride
of the Chinese people -- pride over their past, pride over their
present, pride over their achievements, and pride over the policies
of their leadership, which have produced the miracle. One can discern
this pride everywhere and in everyone -- young or old, man or woman.

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 international
community 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 in
some Western cities during the passage of the Olympic flame.
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