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

CHINESE VIEW - Tibet, A Burden For India

April 11, 2008

Outlook India
Magazine | Apr 14, 2008

Using it as a card against China won't help it buy love, forget trade

Antoaneta Becker

For a place perceived as one of the last sanctuaries of spiritualism,
Tibet has played an unusually brisk role in politics. It has been the
sore point of relations between New Delhi and Beijing ever since its
religious leader and political supremo, the Dalai Lama, fled a failed
anti-China uprising in 1959 and found refuge in Dharamshala.

Long before Lhasa exploded last month, Tibet's special role became even
more sensitive when the Dalai Lama­revered as the 14th reincarnation of
the Bodhisattva­announced last autumn that he may forego the ancient
rites and appoint a successor before his death.
The change in the centuries-old tradition­of searching for a
reincarnation of the Dalai Lama among Tibetan boys whose birth coincides
with the previous incumbent's death­was necessary to ensure the
preservation of the Dalai Lama

system, His Holiness said during his November visit to Japan. The
reason: the Tibetan people would not support a successor chosen by China
after his death. "If my death comes when we are still in refugee status,
then logically my reincarnation will come from outside Tibet," the Dalai
Lama explained later the same month in Amritsar.

So India may find itself playing host to the next Dalai Lama, the 15th
in line, who if chosen as suggested by Tibet's current spiritual leader
would be rejected by China. Beijing insists that the Dalai Lama's
successor must be selected after his death and must have its final
approval. This will buttress Beijing's claims that Tibet is an integral
part of China.

China sees the current Dalai Lama's presence on Indian soil as an
unfortunate historical legacy for which the two countries have paid a
heavy price. "It is something we cannot take back," says Wu Yongnian, an
expert on India at the Shanghai International Affairs Research
Institute. The Tibet issue has continued to hobble Indian and Chinese
efforts to resolve lingering border disputes; the mid-March riots in
Lhasa and other Tibetan-populated areas of China adding a new strain on
the relationship. Beijing insists the violence was masterminded by "the
Dalai Lama clique".

While India has not allowed large-scale public protests over the Tibetan
unrest, the mere presence of the Tibetan government-in-exile in
Dharamshala has given New Delhi some leverage in its relationship with
Beijing. Some Indian strategists have called on New Delhi to make use of
the "Tibet card" it holds.

"Let me tell those politicians that Tibet is not a card but a burden,"
says Sun Shihai, vice-director of the Asia-Pacific Research Institute
under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "No wise Indian politician
would choose to benefit from the Tibetan problem because it would only
lead to tension between our two countries."

Sun points out that India has its own share of ethnic strife. "As two
big countries with similar problems, China and India should stand by
each other in defence of their interests." Wu says China has learned to
live with the fact that, as a democratic country, India allows room for
a divergence of opinions, including on the Tibetan issue. "What is
important for us is what the government says and does," he asserts. "New
Delhi has the same priorities of feeding and looking after the
well-being of millions of people as Beijing does. It would run counter
to India's interests to reverse the growing tide of bilateral trade by
interfering in Tibet."

China's top foreign policy official has sought India's "understanding
and support" in handling the Tibetan crisis, in a notice posted on the
foreign ministry's website. State Councillor Dai Bingguo called India's
national security advisor M.K. Narayanan last week to brief him on the
situation in Lhasa and elsewhere. Publicly, Beijing has praised New
Delhi's efforts to balance good relations with China with the
hospitality it extends to the Tibetan government-in-exile."The Tibetan
issue is a very sensitive one in our relations with India," Chinese
premier Wen Jiabao said last month. "We appreciate the position and the
steps taken by the Indian government in handling Tibetan independence
activities masterminded by the Dalai clique."

Yet, observers say, in trying to substantiate the historical argument
for bolstering its claim to Tibet, Beijing has renewed its demand for
Arunachal Pradesh. After all, the Tawang tract here is the birthplace of
the sixth Dalai Lama.
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