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

Foreign minister says no change in China policy, BJP walks out

March 18, 2008

New Delhi, March 17, 2008 (IANS) There has been no change in India’s
policy towards China since 1959, External Affairs Minister Pranab
Mukherjee said Monday as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led opposition
walked out of the Lok Sabha protesting against New Delhi’s “hesitation
to condemn the violence in Lhasa”. The crackdown by Chinese authorities
against protestors in Tibetan capital Lhasa echoed in both houses of
parliament with the opposition as well as Samajwadi Party urging the
government to put pressure for UN intervention in the matter.

However, Mukherjee said India had already expressed its concern over the
developments in Lhasa. Quoting a statement issued by his ministry, he
said: “We are distressed by reports of the unsettled situation and
violence in Lhasa, and by the deaths of innocent people.

“We would hope that all those involved will work to improve the
situation and remove the causes of such trouble in Tibet, which is an
autonomous region of China, through dialogue and non-violent means.”

Violence erupted in Lhasa Friday when protesters led by Buddhist monks
clashed with Chinese troops and burnt vehicles and shops in the biggest
and angriest demonstrations in two decades against Chinese rule.

According to the official toll, 10 people have died in the violence, but
unofficial reports put the figure at over 100.

The opposition was not satisfied by the intervention made by Mukherjee
and walked out of the lower house.

“India has been following the same policy towards China since 1959.
Successive governments have not changed it. The (BJP-led) NDA (National
Democratic Alliance) was in power during 1998-2004. (Former prime
minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee was foreign minister in 1977,” Mukherjee
said as the BJP MPs walked out.

Raising the issue, BJP deputy leader V.K. Malhotra alleged that there
was “cultural annihilation” by Beijing in Tibet. “More than 100 people
were killed. There were protests all over. But India is silent,” he alleged.

Samajwadi Party’s Ramjilal Suman also asked the government to condemn
the violence in “strongest words”.

Yogi Adityanath of the BJP, who also spoke on the issue, tried to
provoke the communist MPs by saying that “some people who do politics in
India in the name of China also should come out against it.” However,
the Left MPs did not react.

“India should stand against this kind of ethnic cleansing,” Adityanath
demanded.

The matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, where the
opposition alleged that the government’s response against violence had
been “weak-kneed.”

“The government response has been weak-kneed,” former external affairs
minister Yashwant Sinha declared while raising the issue during zero
hour in the Rajya Sabha.

“We are all for good relations with China but I would humbly suggest
that good relations do not mean that we surrender (our rights to make
our views known),” he maintained.

“We have civilizational links with Tibet,” he pointed out, demanding a
government statement “on what its thinking (on the issue) is”.

The government should also work through diplomatic channels and the UN
to bring about a resolution of the issue, Sinha contended.

He also condemned the “blood repression” and the “cultural genocide on a
large scale” by the Chinese government against protestors in Lhasa.

“Human rights are being violated with impunity. We do not know how many
people have lost their lives but it is believed to be in the hundreds.

“There are door-to-door searches for the protestors and not for those
who have indulged in violence. What is most shocking is that the
authorities have declared a people’s war against the people of Tibet,”
Sinha maintained.

“How can a government conduct a people’s war against its own people,” he
wondered.

Sinha also condemned the “barbarity” with which the police in the
national capital have put down protests by Tibetans here.

“The Dalai Lama is our honoured guest. All Tibetans in India are our
guests. Is this how we treat our guests?” Sinha asked.
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