Beijing objected to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh because it claimed that Indian state to be part of China. The Indian government responded with the following statement: “We express our disappointment and concern over the statement made by the Official Spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs since this does not help the process of ongoing negotiations between the two Governments on the Boundary Question.”
What a pathetic response! The Chinese statement was not only impertinent, it was stupid. Beijing objected to the PM’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh but did not utter a peep about recent elections in that state in which 72 percent electorate cast their votes. Perhaps Beijing does not like to be reminded of democratic elections that are conspicuously absent in China.
The truth is that China is becoming a bore and a nuisance. Its economic and military prowess has given its government a bloated idea about its importance. Beijing ’s attitude with its warlord mentality is frozen in the nineteenth century. But the world has changed. People are interdependent and informed. Big powers can bomb nations and humiliate them. They cannot subjugate them.
The 21st century man can fulfill Ernest Hemingway’s 20th century comment: “Man can be destroyed, not defeated.”
America is more powerful than China. Iraq and Afghanistan are teaching America this painful lesson. One hopes that the abject approach of the UPA government does not lead China to make a dangerous miscalculation. The UPA government is not permanent. It in no way reflects the temper of the Indian people.
Beijing should wake up to some hard truths. In 1954 Pandit Nehru signed a Treaty of Friendship with China by which India recognized Tibet to be part of China . By signing that treaty Nehru thought that the boundary question with China was settled. It was a piece of thoughtless cynicism to buy peace with his “bhai” in Beijing at the cost of the Tibetan people. Successive Indian governments have behaved like prisoners of this treaty.
However Article VI of the 1954 Treaty states:
“The present agreement shall come into effect upon ratification by both Governments and shall remain in force for eight years. Extension of the present agreement may be negotiated by the two parties if either party requests for it six months prior to the expiry of the agreement and the request is agreed to by the other party.”
The Treaty was neither renegotiated nor extended. It lapsed.India is under no legal constraint to consider Tibet to be part of China.
The uncivilized approach by the Beijing government in dealing with Tibet has brought to the fore the dispute regarding the status of Tibet . His Holiness the Dalai Lama with his idealistic commitment to peace had stated that Tibet could be considered as an autonomous region of China . Beijing refused to respond. It is unlikely that even the Dalai Lama’s offer would be accepted by future generations of young Tibetans. Tibet is culturally and historically not a part of China. Tibetans want independence. It is not for India to take sides in this dispute. The Indian government should state unambiguously that the status of Tibet is disputed and India cannot recognize it as part of China until such time as Beijing can reach agreement with credible representatives of the Tibetan people.
The Ching dynasty of the Manchus had conquered China like the Mongols before them. They conquered the adjacent territories of the Mongols and the Uighurs. They annexed Tibet and Nepal to make them protectorates. In 1911-12 the Chinese revolted and overthrew the Ching dynasty to win independence. After the overthrow of the Manchus Tibet may be considered as much part of China as Myanmar would be Indian because Burma was part of the British Empire.
In 1959 the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) met in Geneva to study the status of Tibet. The Commission after extensive research and study concluded: “The important point which emerges as an historical fact at this time is the ineffectiveness of the supposed Chinese authority in Tibet .” Not surprisingly, the Jurists affirmed: “Personal allegiance of the Dalai Lama towards the Manchu Emperor came to an end. Tibet ’s expulsion of the Chinese in 1912 can fairly be described as one of de facto independence and there are, as explained, strong legal grounds for thinking that any form of legal subservience to China had vanished.”
Beijing therefore should stop being obsessed with Arunachal Pradesh. It should focus on Tibet and Xingjian. Both are disputed territories. The disputes pertaining to their status need to be resolved amicably through dialogue. India has a dispute on Kashmir which is half occupied by Pakistan. The Indian government’s efforts to resolve the issue are unsatisfactory. But New Delhi is at least recognizing the problem and trying to defuse it through dialogue.
Beijing on the other hand is frozen in an unrelenting and rigid mindset. So is its favorite proxy in South Asia, Pakistan. Right now Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani is in China. The militant organizations in Pakistan are waging a war against their former patrons, the Pakistan army. The Al Qaeda has urged a jihad against China for its repression in Xingjian. One deplores terrorism. But as many human rights activists repeatedly state with regard to Kashmir, should not the roots of the problems in Tibet , Xingjian, NWFP and Baluchistan be addressed to end terrorism? One does hope that all the bleeding hearts over Kashmir will support this demand ...