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My Shanghai Diary–II: Why Anger?

(Based on the writer’s visit to Shanghai from May 6 to 9,2008, for a discussion on the “Beijing Olympics & Security” )

Why anger?

2. Because of what the Tibetans did in Lhasa on March 14,2008, when there was large-scale violence directed at the Han Chinese and their property and thereafter in other Tibetan-inhabited areas outside the Tibet autonomous region.

3. Because of what the Chinese perceive and allege as the role played by the Dalai Lama, the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and some members of the Tibetan diaspora in the West in instigating this violence.

4. Because of the alleged role played by Western—particularly American — human rights activists and non-governmental organisations such as the US-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED),the Germany-based Neumann Stiftung (Foundation) and the France-based “Reporters Without Frontiers” in instigating, funding and encouraging this violence.

5. Because of what the Chinese indignantly describe as the baseless allegations disseminated by the Dalai Lama, his advisers and the TYC regarding large-scale deaths of Tibetans during firing by the Chinese security forces in Lhasa and cultural genocide in Tibet.

6. Because of what the Chinese describe as a mischievous, motivated and one-sided projection of the events by most of the Western media.

7. They do not hesitate to call the Dalai Lama, the TYC and their supporters as a pack of dishonest liars who have learnt the techniques of disinformation from their Western—particularly American– supporters and funders.

8. They point out that while nearly 20 Hans were brutally killed by Tibetan mobs on March 14,2008—with some of them burnt alive— there was not a single instance of retaliatory killing of Tibetans by the Hans. Even according to the Dalai Lama’s version, the Tibetans who were killed died in the action taken by the security forces to quell violence by the Tibetan mobs and not at the hands of Han civilians, who, it is said, conducted themselves with great restraint despite the Tibetan attacks on them.

9. All sections of the Chinese one met were outraged that while the Western media played up what the Chinese describe as the baseless stories of the Dalai Lama’s set-up, they blacked out the version of the Chinese Government.

10. Surprise was expressed over the fact that even large sections of the Indian media and analysts mainly accepted the Western and the Dalai Lama’s versions, and ignored the Chinese Government’s version or played it down.

11. The Dalai Lama—-who is contemptuously referred to as Dalai or as the head of the Dalai clique— is the most distrusted and disliked figure in China. He is seen as a double-dealer, as a man who says one thing, but does another, who keeps changing his position frequently depending on the prevailing circumstances.

12. According to them, the Dalai Lama openly talks of autonomy, but secretly asks the TYC to fight for independence, openly preaches non-violence, but secretly asks the TYC to take to violence, openly supports the holding of the Olympics in Beijing, but secretly asks the TYC to co-operate with Western—particularly American—human rights groups in sabotaging it.

13. How can we seriously deal with a person like him, who does not inspire confidence and trust, they ask. They are outraged by his demand for a Greater Tibet by merging in Tibet other Tibetan-inhabited areas of China, which do not now form part of the Tibet autonomous region and rule out even discussing this with him.

14. It is apparent that while they might be prepared to talk with the representatives of the Dalai Lama about his own future as the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, they might not be prepared to discuss with him the future of Tibet. They dismiss firmly any suggestions for a Hong Kong or Taiwan style status for Tibet under the one country, two systems formula. They seem to suspect that the Dalai Lama’s strategy is to come back to Tibet under an agreement with the Chinese, re-assume his political role and create a Taiwan-like situation by introducing a multi-party liberal democracy on the Indian model.

15. The TYC is widely seen as a terrorist organisation no different from Al Qaeda or the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). They claim to have captured arms and ammunition from the possession of TYC supporters in Tibet. The argument that the Dalai Lama is a good man, a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, a charismatic religious personality and has had no role in the radicalisation of the TYC falls on deaf ears.

16. There is appreciation of the stand taken by the Government of India that it would not allow the Dalai Lama’s set-up to indulge in anti-Chinese activities from Indian territory and of the measures taken by the Government to ensure a safe passage for the Olympic Flame through New Delhi.

17. At the same time, one could discern an air of puzzlement over what is apparently perceived as the inaction of the Government of India against the TYC—particularly some American nationals of Tibetan origin, who now seem to dominate its policy-making and activities.

18. The Olympic flame has been successfully taken to the top of the Everest. It is proposed to be taken across the Tibetan-inhabited areas, including Tibet, in the third week of June. If there is a fresh outbreak of violence during that period, one should not be surprised if the Chinese authorities take up with the Government of India the question of arresting and extraditing to China those whom they might perceive as the ring leaders of the TYC-sponsored violence. (10-6-08) Continued in My Shanghai Diary – III: Why Sorrow?

(The writer, Mr.B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:

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