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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

'Dump the Dalai Lama, or else…'

April 17, 2008
Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Bhaskar Roy, who retired recently as a senior government official with
decades of national and international experience, is an expert on
international relations and Indian strategic interests. In this
exclusive column for, he argues that 'the more India bends to
accommodate Chinese diplomatic and political aggression, the more the
Chinese will demand.'

“India cannot keep China and the Dalai Lama simultaneously,” says a
April 7 commentary carried by China’s official news agency, Xinhua.

The brief commentary went on to say that the Indian government was under
pressure from various social and political groups on the Tibetan issue,
and it would find it difficult to play host to the Tibetan government
in-exile while maintaining good relations with China.

The gravity and veiled threat embedded in this commentary can only be
ignored at India’s peril. The Chinese are masters in indirect and
couched messages. The opposite party is expected to understand the
message and respond accordingly. If the response is not to China’s
satisfaction, then it will exercise its options.

The options are never clearly spelt out to keep the opponent guessing,
nor is the exact timing of actions indicated clearly. The matter is
noted, and options exercised at a time of China’s convenience. Surprise
is a crucial element of Master Sun Tzu’s strategy.

Read related columns: Chinks in the Bamboo Curtain | Excl: A few tales
of love, as Lhasa burned | ‘Drop the Olympic torch, Sachin!’

Xinhua’s news reports follow the guidelines laid down by the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) and the government. But such commentaries come
from the Party Central Committee and the Political Bureau level -- the
highest authority. The commentary was in Chinese, suggesting that
officials, party cadres and people were being assured that improvement
in India-China relations were not at the cost of the pride of the
Chinese nation. One reads in this a dangerous trend – raising Chinese
nationalism against India.

The Chinese leadership must realise, and they are highly experienced in
this, that “national pride” is very different from “nationalism”. The
term nationalism can quickly slip into Adolf Hitler’s “Aryan
Superiority” or Benito Mussolini’s “Fascism”.

The Chinese message to India is quite clear. Dump the Dalai Lama, or
else. The “or else” is not a difficult riddle to solve. They are
confident they have many instruments squeeze India – the Nuclear
Suppliers Group (NSG), India’s APEC membership, sparking problems on the
borers, and others.

Read related columns: Tibet - A road to nowhere | Chinese chequers |
Open Letters: Dear Dalai Lama

The leadership in Beijing is under rising international pressure to
address the Tibetan issue and the Tibetan cause, and talk to the Dalai
Lama to resolve it peacefully. No one is asking for independence of
Tibet, especially the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan spiritual head has been
steadfastly supporting the Beijing Olympics, and is emphatic in every
way that he wants “genuine autonomy” for Tibet. He is also willing to
negotiate on the aspects of autonomy. The Dalai Lama’s bottom line is to
keep the Tibetan religion, culture and civilisation alive. And the
lineage of the Dalai Lama is the life blood of the Tibetan Lamaist
culture, religion and civilisation. A civilisation grows on the purity
of certain beliefs, which get ingrained in its genes.

Read related columns: Tibet is not China's 'internal affair' | ‘Ignoring
Tibet is dangerous for India’ | Tibet keeps alive true spirit of the Games

Chinese policies in Tibet suggest it wants to destroy all these.
According to Chinese law, the Dalai Lamas have to be recognised by the
Chinese Government. They have derecognised the 11th Panchen Lama
recognised by the Dalai Lama, and put up their own 11th Panchen Lama,
who is not recognised by the Tibetans.

Human rights is a multi-dimensional concept. No country has the right to
impose its own understanding of human rights on another country. Since
China practices communism at the initial stage of socialism, it has
every right to protect it if the majority subscribes to this concept.
Then, human rights also have a universal concept. An age old
civilisation cannot be crushed for their beliefs and culture. This
becomes an international issue of humanity, and cannot be ignored by the
people of the world.

Unfortunately, China is yet to understand the democratic world. It is
depending on democratic governments to fall in line, with the conviction
that people do not matter. US President George W Bush, and British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown appear to have proved China’s thesis. After all,
it is the lure of the Chinese market, especially at the time of a global
economic meltdown. But there is something called people’s power, as the
French have demonstrated. Democracy moves slowly, but eventually it wins.

Special: Blood on the Roof of the World | Full coverage: Tibetan
uprising | Images: Flames of fury

China claims the Olympics is a non-political sporting event. But the
Olympics has hardly been a purely sporting event in its modern history.
China’s Beijing Olympics is designed to be a major international
political statement. The design of the Olympic torch is a statement of
President and CCP General Secretary General Hu Jintao’s political
thought: “harmonious development”. This theory is much more than neutral
harmony of people of China and the world. It is a statement of “harmony”
that can be achieved only under what the CCP ordains.

After an initially politically correct position asking China to resolve
the Tibetan issue peacefully and through dialogue with the Dalai Lama,
India seems to have gone on the back-foot. While stating the Dalai Lama
is a spiritual leader and an honoured guest, he has been advised not to
respond to the most vitriolic and abusive attacks heaped on him by
Chinese officials. The words and phrases used by the Chinese officials
against the Dalai Lama are, at best, ghetto language of dehumanised

The language used in the Chinese attacks on the Dalai Lama are shocking,
especially coming from the leaders of a race which claims four thousand
years of culture. The Beijing Olympics is choreographed to showcase
their culture, civilisation and power to the world. All have been
waiting to see this awesome spectacle. But the abuses hurled at the
Dalai Lama has irreversibly tainted all that. The question being asked
is: Which is the real culture of China?

The Tibetan refugees in India also have their responsibilities. They are
free to protest peacefully, and this will be noted all over the world.
But physically assaulting the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, or preparing
to forcefully disrupt the Olympics torch run, is unfortunate. The Indian
government cannot be embarrassed in this manner. India is bound to
protect foreign envoys and their representatives under the Geneva

On the other hand, how far back can the Indian government bend, and why,
to accommodate the Chinese diplomatic and political aggression? The more
India does so, the more the Chinese will demand. The BJP-led NDA
government suffered this humiliation quite willingly during Prime
Minister Vajpayee’s visit to China in June 2003. India got nothing in
exchange. The BJP never explained their action, or inaction.

Strangely, India is behaving like a battered boxer in a corner of the
ring, eyes closed and hands over his head, hoping the raining blows
would stop. This behavioural pattern has been common to both the NDA and
the UPA, the BJP and the Congress, when in power.

Encouraged by Indian timidity and willingness to accommodate China,
Beijing attempted to place their special forces’ personnel to provide
security to the Olympics torch relay in New Delhi on April 17. It was a
relief that the Indian government declined. But the mere fact the China
attempted to impose on India’s sovereignty is a matter of great affront
to the Indian people.

It will be a matter of historical regret if the International Olympics
Committee (IOC) decides to cancel future Olympics torch relays. The
problems that have visited upon the Beijing Olympics were created by
China. Why should future hosts of the Olympic games be made to suffer?

Finally, in the context of the Xinhua commentary, the Indian government,
its political leaders and people must not fail to see the ultimatum
conveyed by the Chinese. If India fails to respond with its sovereign
independence, it may have to pay a heavy price in the future.

The Great Wall climbers in India must decide which is more important –
ideological compatibility, or sovereignty and territorial integrity of

The views expresses in the article are of the author’s and not of
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