Friday, 11 April 2008

China Dictates and also India diplomatically obeys

WE HAVE recently witnessed violent protests in Tibet. I support the struggle of the people of Tibet. The question that arises now is what is the case all about and how is India affected by this conflict?

Recently, Indian Prime Minister visited Arunachal Pradesh. While addressing a rally in Itanagar, he said that Arunachal Pradesh is India’s land of rising sun. China lodged its protest on Manmohan Singh’s assertion over this claim of India. China has always said that Arunachal Pradesh is part of China. Officials on Indian side are numb since then over an issue, which has potential to turn into a controversy.

Pranab Mukherjee said, on February 27 that China has claimed 90000 sq km of Indian territory including Tawang in Arunachal. China even denied a visa to IAS officer from Arunachal Pradesh when around 100 IAS officers were going for official visit to China, sometime back. India did not react to that issue. China has been claiming Arunachal for long time but the silence from New Delhi is definitely a concern.

So lets’ get into some facts -

What is the dispute all about?

China officially claims 90000 sq km of land in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. But it is mainly interested in Tawang district. This district borders Tibet and Bhutan. China says that district belonged to Tibet and wants India to return it in order to settle the border dispute.

Conflict of China and Tibet

Tibet has a history of at least 1300 years of independence from China. In 821 both countries signed a treaty and recognised, Tibet and China to be independent nation. During 13th and 14th century, both China and Tibet came under the influence of the Mongol Empire. Mongols conquered China while Tibetans and Mongols established the unique ‘priest patron’ relationship, also know as CHOYON.

The Mongol Empire ended in the mid 14th century. Mongolia became a separate country and by 15th century, political authority in Tibet passed into the hands of religious hegemonies and then to Dalai Lamas. In 1639, the fifth Dalai Lama established another CHOYON relationship with the Manchu Empire. Manchu occupied China and established the Manchu dynasty.

Manchu officials lived in Tibet from 1728 to 1911. In 1911, Sun Yat Sen, declared Manchus as foreigners and not ethnic Chinese and declared China as a republic. In 1914, China claimed Tibet but Tibet continued as fully sovereign nation till it was invaded by China. China claims that both China and Tibet came under influence of Mongols, so it is believed to be one nation. But this claim was not recognised for, which China carried on gross violations of human rights post 1949 invasion. This invasion marked the border dispute with India.

When Tibet declared itself as independent nation in 1912, then British in India convened a meeting at Simla to ensure that violence in Tibet did not reach India, which lead to signing of Simla convention between China, India and Tibet. The accord gave China suzerainty over most of Tibet and boundary defined under this treaty know as McMahon line. The British subsequently declared government of India an official border with Tibet. However, later after signing the treaty, China reneged saying the ‘provincial government’ of Tibet had no right to sign such an accord. It then went on to stake claim to huge areas of land surrounding Tibet, which included Aksai Chin in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh in east. After occupying Tibet, China occupied a large tract (approx. 38000 km) of Aksai Chin and build national highway 29, connecting it to eastern province of Xinjiang, which was considered as an illegal occupation by China..

Betrayal of UN and India

Tibet suffered, after it was invaded by China. It made a plea to the United Nations (UN) but UN was unable to make any sort of decisions at that time. India also never protested against Chinese intrusion in Tibet. India now looks to maintain a healthy relation with China due to pressure from business community and Tibet issue had taken a backstage. The government must realise that they have some responsibility towards Tibet that India has failed so far to exert any pressure on China.

Current Scenario

In November 2007, MPs from Arunachal Pradesh brought in notice to government of India that Chinese incursion into state are becoming more frequent. The official figures quote 146 incursions in 2007. Chinese are even preventing locals from going up to regions where they had been going for years.

China is pursuing the same policy it followed in Aksai Chin, claim-repeat the claim-grab-hold-let time pass. China openly claims Arunachal Pradesh to be a part of their country. India today has no support or sympathy from the world when China made such claims.

Indian government has not learnt any lesson from Aksai Chin. The silence from New Delhi can cost us Arunachal Pradesh. It even disturbs the local people on both sides in line of control for, which India needs to take up some bold steps.

The only way out for India is to recognise Tibet as an occupied territory. India should thus, negotiate border dispute with an independent Tibet and not China. The recent eruption of violent protests in Tibet marks the high scale violation of Human Rights. The people of Tibet are struggling for the right to live in peace and to freely practice their religion. India should bring the issue on center stage, as India will also be getting affected directly from the unrest in Tibet.

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