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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Book Review: Dharamsala and Beijing: the negotiations that never were

February 22, 2010

Lancer Publishers
November 24, 2009

The book is enriched by the author`s deep access
to all the Tibetan principals involved in the
dialogue process and the actual negotiations. It
is also enriched by the author`s own extensive
research on a subject much commented but little
researched on. The Negotiations that Never Were
will form the basis of future Sino-Tibetan
negotiations literature because the book's
enduring contribution to this literature is the
blow-by-blow accounts it gives of all the
contacts and discussions between Dharamsala and Beijing.

The Negotiations that Never Were will form the
basis of future Sino-Tibetan negotiations
literature because the book's enduring
contribution to this literature is the
blow-by-blow accounts it gives of all the
contacts and discussions between Dharamsala and Beijing.

In reviewing this book one marvels at the fact
that these negotiations took place at all. In
international politics, diplomacy is always
backed by military force. In conducting such
relations among sovereign nations, the unstated
message always is, negotiate, or else. The option
of war is used as a compelling argument for
concerned parties to choose negotiations as a
less expensive way to settle outstanding
disputes. Tibetans, committed to non-violence, do
not have the military option. Despite this, why
did the negotiations take place at all? That
these negotiations took place is a reflection of
His Holiness the Dalai Lama's hold on his people
and the quality of leadership he has provided.

A welcome addition in the book is the author's
examination of the attitude of individual Chinese
to the Tibet question. Although official China
says there is no problem in Tibet, un-official
China, that vast interlocking network of human
rights and environmental activists, writers and
scholars who form the country's nascent but
growing civil society, sees that there is a big
problem in Tibet and the government is mishandling it.
The annexation of an independent Tibet is
irrefutably outlined in Claude Arpi’s book,
Tibet: The Lost Frontier, which was published
last year. Arpi, a Frenchman based in Auroville,
is arguably India ’s most effective communicator
of the Tibetan cause. He displays the research of
a scholar and the insight of a strategist. This
year he has written a follow-up book, Dharamsala
and Beijing : The Negotiations that Never Were,
published by Lancer Publishers. The book is an
eye opener. It meticulously describes the entire
farcical engagement since inception between Beijing and the Dalai Lama’s aides.

In 1947 there was no India-China border. There
was only the India-Tibet border. Chinese Premier
Zhou Enlai hoodwinked Pandit Nehru. From then up
till now the Chinese brazenly lied, indulged in
doubletalk and blandly denied self-evident
truths. From then up till now India and America
lamely accepted such contemptuous treatment. In
1954 India and China signed a treaty for eight
years by which among other things India
recognised Tibet to be part of China. Beijing
violated the assurances given in that treaty by
transgressing the border. A confused Nehru
decided to keep Parliament in the dark. He
persisted with secrecy about Chinese encroachments during the following years.

That was when this reviewer through an article in
1960 demanded Nehru’s resignation. As a junior he
made this reasonable demand when media doyens
critical of Nehru’s China policies such as S
Mulgaokar and Frank Moraes could not bring
themselves to state this. No wonder it took a
child to blurt that the Emperor wore no clothes!
Zhou told Nehru that he was ignorant about the
McMahon Line until he studied the border problem.
And today China claims Arunachal Pradesh to be
part of China! Beijing and Tibet broke ice.
Beijing allowed fact-finding missions from
Dharamsala to visit Tibet and view its progress.
The Chinese genuinely thought that better roads
and infrastructure had made Tibetans happy. The
frenzied reception given to the Dalai Lama’s
representatives by the Tibetans stunned them.
Four succeeding missions were doomed to fail. I
think the Chinese fail to empathize with Tibet
because Tibetans believe in God. Most Chinese
don’t. In 2005 former Defence Minister, Army
Chief and Vice Chairman of the Central Military
Commission, Chi Haotian, said in a speech: “Maybe
you have now come to understand why we …
promulgate atheism… if we let all Chinese people
listen to God and follow God, who will obediently listen to us and follow us?”

Claude Arpi’s book exposes the painful
repetitiveness of all contacts between China and
Tibet, between China and the rest of the world.
Tibet was like a woodpecker trying to penetrate a
block of steel. The Chinese refused to
countenance the slightest change in Tibet. In
1988 Dalai Lama made the Strasbourg Proposal and
adopted the Middle Way, demanding autonomy
instead of independence. Beijing kept calling him
a ‘splitter’. China continued to lie and deceive
the world to keep talks going. Only once in 60
years did a senior Chinese official speak the
truth. In 1980 CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang
admitted: "Our party has let the Tibetan people
down. We feel very bad!” Very soon he had to eat
his words and fall in line. The world kept hoping
for China to change. It was a futile hope.
The Statesman

In October 1950, Communist China invaded Tibet.
After nine years of difficult co-habitation with
the occupiers, the Dalai Lama, the young temporal
and spiritual leader of the Tibetans, had no
choice but to flee his country to take refuge in India.

It took 20 years for the Tibetans to renew a
dialogue with the leaders in Beijing. Soon after
Deng Xiaoping’s return to power in 1978, the
first contacts were made. Using rare documents,
this is the story of thirty years of encounters
between the Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala and Beijing.

Today the stalemate continues; Beijing refuses to
offer any sort of concession to the Dalai Lama’s
demand for a genuine autonomy for Tibet. Just
like the border ‘talks’ between India and China,
the negotiations with Dharamsala have never really started.

Reading through this book one understands how the
relations between India and China are
inextricably linked to the status of Tibet.
Further, the present unrest in Tibet renders
China unstable and increasingly belligerent
towards India which gave refuge to the Tibetans.

Acknowledgements -- Introduction -- Prelude --
The Last Bridges are Cut -- The First Contacts in
the Seventies -- Seeking the Truth from Facts --
Return to Tibet? -- Internalization of the
Tibetan Issue -- Second Uprising and Border
Build-up -- The Nineties, the Difficult Years --
Dharamsala and Beijing: Renewed Contacts -- Eight
Round and A Special Meeting -- A Different
Interpretation: The Case of Bapa Phunsok Wangyal
-- China's Voices of Dissent -- Where Do We Go
 From Here? -- Postscript -- Annexure-I -- Annexure-II -- Index

Dharamsala and Beijing: the negotiations that never were
Author: Claude Arpi
ISBN: 978-1-935501-190
Pages: 294
Features: Black and White photos
Rs.795/- $28.00
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