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My Shanghai Diary—IV: Suspicions and Ground Reality

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

The suspicions of the Chinese relating to a possible foreign hand in the recent uprising in Tibet seem to be focussed essentially on three non-governmental organisations, namely, the National Endowment For Democracy (NED) of the US, the Neumann Stiftung (Foundation) of Germany, and the “Reporters Without Borders ” of France and the US-funded Radio Free Asia, which was started by the Clinton Administration.

2. Two detailed papers on the NED prepared by me in the past are available at and Not much is known about the other two NGOs. Radio Free Asia’s budget was increased by the concerned authorities in Washington DC after the outbreak of the Tibetan uprising in March,2008. It is not known where from it broadcasts — possibly Taiwan or Thailand. Its Tibetan language programmes seem to be largely produced in Nepal and its Uighur language programmes in Pakistan and Turkey.

3. I had reported as follows in my paper of March 19,2008, available at :” The US authorities are reported to have taken action to strengthen the transmitting power of Radio Free Asia (RFA) and the Voice of America (VOA) in order to enable their broadcasts to overcome the jamming by the Chinese authorities. They have also announced an increase in their hours of broadcasts and telecasts to the Tibetan people with effect from March 18,2008. Mr.James K.Glassman, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported, non-military international broadcasting, announced on March 18,2008, as follows: “The violent crackdown by Chinese authorities in Tibet compels us to increase our broadcasts.Our audience clearly will benefit from these trustworthy sources of news and information, which differ sharply from Chinese government sanctioned broadcasts.” At present, RFA broadcasts eight hours daily to Tibet via shortwave radio. The VOA broadcasts four hours daily, also via shortwave. With effect from March 18, each has expanded its respective radio programmes by two additional hours daily. The VOA will also double its weekly Tibetan-language television programming from one to two hours via the AsiaSat 3 satellite. Mr.Libby Liu, President of the RFA, said on March 18,2008: “RFA’s Tibetan service is working round the clock to bring authoritative, breaking news to the Tibetan people. These additional hours will greatly enhance our capacity to deliver this news, including live updates, to people on the ground.”

4.The Chinese also seem to suspect that some Indian NGOs may be helping the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC). An anonymous E-mail circulating in China alleges than an Indian organisation called “Defence” has been running training classes for TYC elements in Himachal Pradesh. It is further alleged that Chota Rajan, the mafia leader, is orchestrating the training of anti-Pakistan elements from Afghanistan and anti-China elements from Himachal Pradesh in India. One cannot rule out the possibility that this mischievous mail making baseless allegations against India is being disseminated by the mafia group of Karachi-based Dawood Ibrahim at the instance of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in order to plant suspicions about India in the minds of the Chinese.

5. Even after all that has happened since March 10,2008, one could notice a reluctance on the part of the Chinese to come to terms with three stark realities staring them in their face. Firstly, despite the undoubted economic progress in Tibet, there is considerable alienation against Beijing due to religious reasons and due to perceptions of discrimination against the Tibetans. Second, the unwise demonisation of the Dalai Lama by the Chinese authorities has not dented the reverence in which he is held not only by the Tibetans, but also by large sections of the Buddhists all over the world. This demonisation of His Holiness by the Chinese authorities has proved counter-productive and has added to the alienation. Unless they reverse this policy and treat the Dalai Lama with all the respect that is his due, they cannot reverse the process of alienation. Third, there is no doubt that organisations such as the NED and the RFA have been taking advantage of the situation created by the mishandling of the Tibetan people by the Chinese authorities in order to fish in troubled waters. The Chinese have to blame themselves for this.

6. While it is not correct that any Indian organisation or group has been helping the TYC, one cannot deny that large sections of the Indian civil society—including this writer— have an empathy for the Tibetans and His Holiness and wish them success in their efforts to highlight their grievances and have them redressed. If they do not feel sorry for the Chinese in their predicament, it is because of the way the Chinese have repeatedly stabbed India in the back—- by transfering military nuclear and missile capabilities to Pakistan and by their irredentist claims to Indian territory. No Indian in his right senses will entertain the Chinese claims to Arunachal Pradesh or at least to a part of it in Tawang. The longer the Chinese insist on Tawang being given to China, the greater will be the sympathy in the Indian civil society for the Tibetan cause.

7. India is not among the ill-wishers of China. It applauds the Chinese economic miracle. It applauds even more the great achievements of Shanghai. India wants the Olympics to succeed and will co-operate in every possible way with the Chinese authorities in preventing any terrorist threat. If the Olympic Games turn out to be less spectacular than China had wanted them to be and if the unrest and the global movement against China continues, the Chinese will have to blame themselves for it. (11-5-08) Concluded

(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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