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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."

India's dilemma: Pro-Tibet or anti-China

April 20, 2008

Nitin Gokhle, Yogesh Pawar
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 (Mumbai, Delhi)

The Chinese Ambassador to India is breaking all protocol and meeting
Delhi police officials to take stock of the security for the Olympic torch relay.

Normally, only diplomats deal with the Ministry of External Affairs. But
these are not one of those normal times for China.

For the first time since the Tiananmen Square episode, Beijing is on the
back foot. For nearly a month now, Tibetan protestors have managed to
steal the Chinese thunder.

China's hopes of winning international prestige by sending the Olympic
torch through 135 Cities in 5 Continents, ahead of the August 8 opening
of the Olympic Games, have already been severely dented.

The early stages in London and Paris were overshadowed by demonstrations
against Beijing's crackdown on protests in Tibet.

And the third stage in San Francisco was also drastically curtailed and
seen by relatively few people.

China, the world's new bully is suddenly vulnerable. This is the revenge
of the underdog.

A few thousand determined Tibetan people are spoiling what should have
been China's greatest hour of glory, this century.

And the world is gleefully egging the Tibetans on, as if taking a
perverse pleasure in bringing the mighty Chinese down a peg or two.

For two decades, the world has watched in awe. China's scorching
economic growth has coupled with relentless projection of its soft
power, through the nooks and corners of the world.

''I think you must accept that the Dalai Lama and his brand of modern
Buddhism has a certain large cult value in the West. It was Mahesh Yogi
at one time. And now there is a line of Hollywood celebrities, who swear
by the Dalai Lama,'' said Dr T Jayaraman, expert, Sino-Indian Affairs, TISS.

''There is a cult status associated with them. I would not say it's
hypocrisy overall because the government have one attitude and the
people another,'' said Dr T Jayaraman, expert, Sino-Indian Affairs, TISS.

''When a Sarkozy protests about Tibet, I think you need to take it with
a large grain of salt. He is obviously trying to shore up a tarnished
domestic image.

''Yes, it is also proved that Human rights became a convenient bogey. We
all know how much human rights are at work in Iraq.

''We all know how much human rights are at work selectively in different
parts of Yugoslavia. At different points in time human rights has become
a convenient stick to beat China with at this time,'' he said.

''Why are we protesting against China? What are we actually trying to
gain from this? Are we trying to put pressure on China so that it will
change its attitude to Tibet? Is that what people are trying to do?''
Anita Patil-Deshmukh, senior advisor, India-China Institute.

''I think China is hosting Olympics basically because they want respect
from the world, they want legitimacy for the nation, not legitimacy for
the Communist party.

''So that differentiation needs to be made. Lots of protests are being
made not against China as a nation but against the Communist Party and
the way it's dealing with Tibet.

''Unfortunately for a lot us the Chinese government and the Chinese
people are not different as far as Tibet is concerned. And that is the
sad part,'' she added.

An aura of invincibility had surrounded the Chinese in the past two
decades, only partly jolted by the protests.

Many feel that in the long term, China's superpower status will remain
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