Jun 08, 2023
Jun 08, 2023
India and the international community, especially more the United States, have persisted for over than six decades, in not shaking China out of its ‘state of denial’ on its ownership of Tibet. Tibet was a sovereign and independent nation until 1950 when Communist China marched-in hordes of Chinese Army troops for affecting a military Occupation of Tibet against all cannons of international norms and justice.
That Communist China could do so with impunity arose from two major factors. Firstly, a realistic Chinese assessment indicated that India under its first Prime Minister Nehru would be too timid to intervene in favor of Tibet and because Pakistan had militarily tied India in Kashmir military operations.
Internationally, the United States was bogged down in the Korean War and felt disinclined to be involved in another major military operation in heartland Asia. But both of the above are strategic bygones and cannot be advanced as excuses for American and Indian insensitivities to the restoration of independence of Tibet and its deliverance from China’s brutalized military occupation of Tibet
The political timidities of the United States and India in not demanding the end to Chinese Military Occupation of Tibet and restoration of Tibet’s erstwhile independence contributes heavily to China persisting in a ‘state of denial’ over its illegal and brutal Communist Chinese colonial rule over Tibet.
In seconding Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, both the United States, including Western countries, and India become complicit to the ethnic and spiritual genocide that China has mercilessly inflicted on Tibet as a distinct nation in the last six decades plus.
Tibet was never an integral part of China as many historical records would indicate. Spasmodically, China may have over-run Tibet, whenever it became strong, aggressive and colonial in outlook. But these were spasmodic interludes and do not justify any claims by China that Tibet was an integral part of China from the days of antiquity.
It would be pertinent to record here the difference between “Sovereignty” and “Suzerainty”. It stands pointed out in one study that even when suzerainty is ceded a nation’s sovereignty remains intact. Technically therefore, while the United States, UK and India may have ceded China suzerainty over Tibet for whatever specious political reasons, and not on legalistic realities, Tibet’s sovereignty remains intact even today.
Tibet has always had a distinct national identity ethnically, spiritually and culturally. Strategically and politically, besides its religious and cultural identities, Tibet was always drawn towards India and not China.
If Tibet was ever an integral part of China than in that vast expanse of the Tibetan plateau there would have been vestiges and traces of Chinese historical monuments and other visible manifestations of Chinese culture. No such historical evidences exist.
Confucianism spread from China eastwards to the Korean Peninsula. It did not travel to the West and South towards Tibet and India. That just indicates that religious and cultural influences travelled from India to Tibet and then on to China, Korea and Japan. No reverse flows took place from China to Tibet and that just shows the hollowness of Chinese claims to suzerainty over Tibet or that Tibet is an integral part of China.
Tibet the hapless nation today stands under brutalized bondage of China ever since the early 1950s when it forcibly occupied the spiritual kingdom of Tibet. Even the British as colonial rulers of India for nearly two hundred years respected the independence of the Tibetan nation as it posed no threat to any of its neighbors.
Today if Tibet stands under continued Chinese bondage, India stands to blame. The original sin was committed by India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru who acquiesced and let China walk into Tibet without India contesting it politically or militarily. Here was the Indian Prime Minister, who pontificated to Asia for release of Asian countries under colonial bondage, and meekly and shamelessly let its next door neighbor, and a spiritual one as that, slip under colonial rule of China without even a whimper.
More shamefully for India, when the supply lines of the Chinese Military Occupation Forces in Tibet became overextended and these forces ended as logistically unsustainable, it was PM Nehru who permitted Communist China to dispatch food grains to Occupied Tibet via Calcutta and Kalimpong. This is a recorded fact in the autobiography/biography of the Indian Political Agent, Mr Lall then stationed in Gangtok.
India while it may pat its back for having hosted thousands of Tibetans in exile in India including HH the Dalai Lama has never ever had the guts and conviction to actively espouse for restoration of independence of Tibet.
So pitiable is India’s submission to China on the Tibet issue that even a BJP Prime Minister like Atal Behari Vajpayee officially acknowledged China’s suzerainty over Tibet during his visit to China in the last decade. Was that necessary?
More pitiable is India’s eagerness to please China starkly visible whenever Chinese political leaders visit New Delhi, Tibetan protestors peacefully showing black-flags against them are mercilessly and brutally beaten up by the Indian Police. Don’t they have the right to peacefully demonstrate like the others in a country which prides itself in being the largest and vibrant democracy in the world?
Likewise it is shameful that the United States as the most powerful democracy in the world which spearheads the cause of democracy and human rights all over the world is found to be competitively silent when it comes to speaking-up for the cause of the restoration of Tibetan independence.
The United States makes a show of its commitment for the Tibetan independence cause by successive Presidents dropping-in into the office of White House aides when HH The Dalai Lama is visiting Washington and a White House visit is contrived but not carried to its logical conclusion for fear of offending China. China Occupied Tibet has become a hapless victim and captive of United States “China Hedging Strategy” and United States “Risk Aversion Strategy”.
It is high time that the United States and India stand up morally and politically tall and be counted on the issue of freedom of Tibet from Chinese Military Occupation and restoration of Tibet’s independence and sovereignty.
China Occupied Tibet despite extensive Chinese up-gradation of its military hold over Tibet, and merging some of the original Tibetan eastern provinces in China proper, has not been able to snuff out the simmering freedom movement in Tibet.
The wave of self-immolations by hundreds of Tibetans, both monks and Tibetan youth, more noticeably since 2009, should be a wake-up call for China in that it can no longer afford to continue with its Colonial Military Occupation of Tibet. China should shake itself out of its “State of Denial” that its military occupation of Tibet is ‘Eternal’. It is definitely not so as the history of Tibet even under spasmodic Chinese military occupations would prove.
The fires that engulf every helpless and innocent Tibetans who indulge in self-immolations crying out for Tibetan independence fan the flames of Tibetan freedom even more fiercely than ever. The danger is that these self-immolations as pacifist protests for Tibetan independence may at some stage transform and erupt into a violent struggle for independence as is happening in neighboring Xingjian, also rebelling against Chinese military occupation and Sinification.
Widespread Sinification of the Tibetan Plateau or parading Tibetan stooges and accomplices of China Occupied Tibet will neither fool the world nor the Buddhist World worldwide that all is well in China Occupied Tibet and that the China Occupied Tibet exists as one happy family accepting to be an integral part of the Communist Chinese Empire.
That Buddhists the world over can break out of the shackles of pacifism with which their religion binds them, when pushed into a corner or brutalized, is becoming visible in may Buddhist nations. This stood exemplified by the Cover Page of a recent issue of the noted US newsmagazine, Time which below the face of a Buddhist monk carried the caption “The Face of Buddhist Terror”.
China would be fooling itself that with its vast open expanses and sparse Buddhist population, it would be highly unlikely that Buddhist Terrorism will not strike China Occupied Tibet. Rather the more densely and urbanized provinces of Eastern Tibet merged into China may provide fertile grounds within China proper for outbreak of Buddhist Terrorism.
China Occupied Tibet has all the potential of emerging in the future as “China’s Vietnam” or “China’s Afghanistan”. China’s rise to superpower status would not be an effective shield to prevent that from emerging. After all the United States as the global Superpower could not ensure glorious exits from Vietnam or now from Afghanistan, when the people’s tide turns against them.
China in its military occupation of Tibet cannot hope or expect a different outcome. The overriding reality is that Tibet is not a part of China by any historical or ethnic studies. The only prevailing reality is that Tibet today is “China Occupied Tibet” and military occupations or colonial holds by usurpers have never lasted. Tibet will not be an exception.
The United States and India are vital stakeholders in the future of Tibet and need to think of the end- eventuality that they may one day have to face. China cannot continue to be in a “State of Denial” over China Occupied Tibet and nor can the United States or India be in a “State of Denial” that China Occupied Tibet would be a continuing and endless eternal Chinese entity.
More by : Dr. Subhash Kapila