World View: Dalai Lama to Visit Region of Northeast India Claimed by China


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  • Dalai Lama to visit region of northeast India claimed by China
  • Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet to India in 1959 Lhasa uprising still humiliates China

Dalai Lama to visit region of northeast India claimed by China

Map showing disputed border regions, Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, between India and China (South China Morning Post)
Map showing disputed border regions, Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, between India and China (South China Morning Post)

China, the country that illegally annexes regions in the South China Sea and builds illegal military bases there, is now making its usual furious threats because the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, merely wants to visit the town of Tawang in the Himalaya mountains in northeastern India. The visit begins on Tuesday and continues for 12 days.

Tawang is a district in India’s state of Arunachal Pradesh, 2,000 sq km in size, with fewer than 50,000 people. However, it contains the 17th century hilltop Tawang Monastery, which houses a massive gilded Buddha statue. Because of this monastery, China claims that Tawang is part of Tibet, and claims further that Tibet is part of China and so Tawang is part of China.

China’s foreign ministry said that the Dalai Lama’s visit “to the contested area will inflict severe damage on the China-India relationship,” although the relationship is already so severely damaged that it is hard to see how a mere visit is going to damage it more. In response, India announced that India’s Minister of Home Affairs would appear in Tawang with the Dalai Lama, thus giving the visit much greater international prominence.

There are conflicting stories about what the Dalai has said in the past about whether Tawang is part of Tibet or part of India. According to India’s former ambassador Ranjit S Kalha, when the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet in 1959 and passed through Tawang, at that time he thanked India for making his journey “through this extremely well-administered part of India as comfortable as possible.” However, Chinese officials claim that the Dalai Lama said for years that Tawang was historically Tibetan, and only in 2008 said that it was part of India.

According to a recent statement by a Chinese official:

The Dalai Lama’s assertion that Tawang is part of India is against the core interest of the Chinese people. He advocates Tibetan autonomy but is really seeking independence. By allowing him a platform, the India government is going back on its promise of not allowing the Tibetan government in exile to engage in activities undermining China’s sovereignty.

There is also a 1914 deal between India and Tibet defining the border between Tibet and India, and making all of Arunachal Pradesh part of India. However, China has never recognized this deal.

There have been agreements in 1993 and 2005 between India and China that appeared to settle the border disputes by putting Arunachal Pradesh into India, and putting another region, Aksai Chin, on the border with Kashmir, into Chinese territory, as shown on the map above.

However, those agreements were made when both countries were in generational Unraveling eras (like America in the 1990s), when nationalism and xenophobia are generally at a low point. Today, both countries are well into a generational Crisis era, with increasing nationalism and xenophobia, and both countries are becoming more assertive and confrontational, and no longer able to compromise. Deutsche Welle and Indian ambassador Ranjit S Kalha and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet to India in 1959 Lhasa uprising still humiliates China

After China’s army invaded Tibet in 1950 and “liberated” it, there were frequent clashes between China’s army and Tibetans. These clashes culminated in Tibet’s extremely bloody generational crisis war, the 1959 uprising in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital city.

In March 1959, China’s army invited the Dalai Lama to visit army headquarters for a theatrical performance and tea. Many Tibetans believed that the army planned to kidnap the Dalai Lama and possibly kill him. On March 10, 300,000 Tibetans confronted China’s forces, which some reports number up to a million. The Dalai Lama escaped to India, and in the war that followed, tens of thousands of Tibetan men, women and children were slaughtered by China’s army. China also destroyed Lhasa’s major monasteries along with thousands of their inhabitants.

Allowing the Dalai Lama to escape has been a continuing humiliation to China. China keeps hoping he’ll drop dead, but at age 81, he has refused to do so, so far.

However, the successor to the Dalai Lama has become a major issue. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th. Each Dalai Lama is believed to be a reincarnation of the previous one. Each Dalai Lama can choose the person who will select the next Dalai Lama after he dies. The current Dalai Lama did select a six-year-old boy in 1995 for this role, but the boy and his family were immediately kidnapped and killed by the Chinese government.

China now wants to take control of the succession process, and essentially to select the next Dalai Lama when the current one dies. However, it’s not likely that the Tibetan people will accept the choice of the Chinese government. and (India) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Tibet, Lhasa, Dalai Lama, India, China, Aksai Chin, Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang, Tawang Monastery, Ranjit S Kalha, Kashmir
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