Tibet is Making Headlines Again: It is Time to settle Disputes Amicably

A high-powered US delegation has visited Dharamshala and called upon His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Tibetans living in exile in Macleodganj. The delegation included Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the House of Representatives in the US.  Her mission in recent times has been to take on China in all its fury, head on, ignoring their protests. She visited Taiwan to express her support to the island. This visit was no less. What was unusual was the less than diplomatic rebuff when she declared His Holiness will be long remembered, ‘his legacy will live forever’, while President Xi of China will one time be gone and long forgotten. That was brazen stuff, not easily digested. When asked to comment on her statement, a spokesperson from MEA said only she can explain better what she meant, and warded any opinion from the Indian government. That the delegation called upon the Indian prime minister, after meeting with the Dalai Lama, nailed the Indian position further.

Said The Asian Age, in an editorial: The boot appears to be on the other foot. China, accustomed to irritating the world with its fanciful territorial claims and its actions on the LAC with India and its aggressive posturing on Taiwan and the Pacific Ocean, is now getting a bit of a taste of its own medicine.

Meanwhile the US President is set to soon sign the Resolve Tibet Act, after the bill has been moved in the US House after being endorsed by an overwhelming bipartisan support. China has been claiming that Tibet has been a part of China from ancient times and giving the territory its own Chinese names.

The Resolve Tibet Act authorises the use of funds to counter Chinese ‘disinformation’ about the history of Tibet, its people and institutions including that of the Dalai Lama. It challenges the Chinese claim to Tibet as being its part since ancient times. It also urges China to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the Tibetan community to resolve differences without pre-conditions. This is the third Act in a series passed by the US House.

Coming at this stage when all-round tension is heightened, when China is showing little sign to climb down from its engagements on the Indian borders, the South China seas, and elsewhere, this Act can queer the pitch for China on its presence in Tibet. This new Act when signed can create new engagement possibilities, which China may not find palatable; notably, China has asked the US president not to sign. In the Far East, rumblings are being heard of protest and statements that countries will not like to buckle down, amidst big powers’ pressures. Philippines has declared it will hold on to its integrity and not get caught in power games. It will defend its seas against all threats.

Here at home, is India sending a message? That India is no longer playing passive while China is going on asserting its rights over integral parts of India including Arunachal state. It is known to object to visits by Indian senior officials, objects to visits by His Holiness and periodically asserts its claims at its own whims and fancies. In recent times it has gone out to arbitrarily give Indian cities its own Chinese names. Wonder how it would react if we did the same to theirs?

Given the US nudge, the Indian side is also saying we too can play a part, suggesting it is time to settle some of our long-standing disputes, keeping mutual interests in mind.

The overall situation is somewhat complex. China became India’s largest trading partner with the trade heavily in their favour. Imports into India far outweigh our exports. India has revisited the subject of visas being issued to Chinese business people. A few companies from China have come under the scanner for evading taxes. Not much has moved forward on the Galwan border, either. Is it watch and wait for China to change its course to cooperation and working for mutual interest?

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