CHINESE DAMAGE CONTROL EXERCISE
While continuing to make arrests of suspected participants in the revolt in Tibet, the Chinese have at the same time mounted a damagecontrol exercise to prevent the developments in Tibet from having an impact on their successful holding of the Beijing Olympics ofAugust,2008.
2. The arrests, which started on March17,2008, have not so far been as massive as originally feared. The total number of Tibetan youth arrested so far has been estimated at about 150. What the Chinese have been doing is to arrest identified past offenders, who had spenttime in the jail in the past for undesirable activities and had been released after they had completed their prison terms.In the initial wave ofarrests, they have also been looking for persons without valid documents.
3. The Chinese have been trying to prove that those, who attacked the Han and Hui settlers and members of the security forces, were notsons of the soil, who, according to the Chinese, are happy with the Chinese rule and have excellent relations with the Hans, but infiltratorsfrom outside. In the initial phase of enquiries, they are focussing on those Tibetans, who have relatives in India and the West in order to seewhether any of them had recently visited their relatives abroad or whether their relatives living abroad had recently visited them.
4. The Chinese are convinced that the disturbances were not spontaneous, but pre-meditated and well organised. In his customary pressconference after the conclusion of the session of the National People's Congress (NPC) held at Bejing on March 18,2008, the Prime Minister,Mr.Wen Jiabo, linked the disturbances to the Olympic Games and described them as "organized, premeditated, masterminded and instigatedby the Dalai Lama clique".
5. The campaign against the Dalai Lama and his set-up in Dharamsala has been stepped up by the Chinese authorities as well as thegovernment-controlled media in Beijing and Lhasa. He has been accused of telling lies when he talked of a cultural genocide in Tibet in hispress conference of March 16. He has been projected as insincere and deceitful.In this connection, reference is being made to hisprotestations of his belief in non-violent methods and the actual violence in Tibet and Sichuan.
6. Even while condemning the Dalai Lama in strong language, the Chinese have kept open the possibility of a dialogue with him. Mr.Wen saidat his press conference: "The door of dialogue is still open to Dalai, so long as he gives up the position for "Tibet Independence", so long ashe recognizes Tibet and Taiwan as inalienable parts of the Chinese territory." But he remained silent on the Dalai Lama's assertion that hewas advocating genuine autonomy for Tibet and not independence.
7. This is an intriguing part of the entire revolt in Tibet. While the Dalai Lama had been repeatedly saying even the past that his aim isgenuine autonomy and not independence, the monks and the youth, who participated in the uprising between March 10 and 14,2008, werecalling for independence. The Tibetan Youth Congress elements in India and the West do not seem to agree with the Dalai Lama that theTibetans would be satisfied with genuine autonomy. It is apparent that the Tibetan Youth Congress played an active role in organising theworld-wide demonstrations on March 10,2008, which in Tibet and Sichuan took a violent anti-Han turn.
8. The questions arising from this are: Was the Dalai Lama aware of the plans of the Tibetan Youth Congress? If so, why did he not try tostop them? If not, is he really in effective control of the Youth Congress? Was the violent uprising in Lhasa pre-meditated by the YouthCongress? If not, who was behind it? No convincing answers to these questions are available. The Chinese authorities see the entire thingas deliberately planned and organised by the Youth Congress with the knowledge of the Dalai Lama.
9. In a strongly-worded commentary based on a report from the Lhasa Bureau of the Government-owned Hsinhua news agency published onMarch 18,2008, the Government-owned "People's Daily" wrote as follows: " Memories of horror were alive again. Rioting that erupted inLhasa on Friday resembled two previous riots in 1959 and 1989, only in its cruelty and always indisputable links to peace-preaching DalaiLama.......In the shocking degree of cruelty which local Tibetans said they had not seen in their whole lives, "brutal" was an understatementof the true picture, but the word was only reserved for the mob, and not for the policemen......Such hostility was not "non-violence" as Dalaipreached, but what the "revered" monk practiced. Religious leaders, local Tibetans and other residents stood out and condemned the riot. It is obvious that the latest well-planned sabotage in Lhasa was another bloody exercise of Dalai clique's political conspiracy....In recentyears, the Dalai clique has been telling the world that they have stopped seeking "Tibetan independence". However, it is just another hugelie. In an effort to fan up the international community to link the "Tibet issue" with the Beijing Olympics, he repeatedly preached during hisfrequent international trips that the year 2008 is of key importance and the Olympic Games would be the "last chance" for the Tibetans.How can the Dalai clique justify themselves when the Tibetan Youth Congress vowed to pursue "Tibet independence" at the cost of bloodand lives in a March 10 statement, which says "they would never give up the fight for Tibet independence"? ....After the riot broke out inLhasa, the Dalai clique maintained real-time contacts through varied channels with the rioters, and dictated instructions to his hard coredevotees and synchronized their moves, police sources say. Evidence again mounted against the Dalai coterie's trumpet for "non-violence",exposing them as a deceitful bunch."
10. The Chinese have been avoiding giving an impression of panic in Beijing over the developments. All the senior officials of the TibetAdministration and party apparatus, who had gone to Beijing to attend the NPC session, continue to be there and are letting theirsubordinates handle the situation in Tibet and Sichuan.
11. Before starting the arrests in Tibet on March 17,2008, the local authorities ordered all foreign tourists and journalists to leave the regionfor their own safety. They also stopped issuing permits for foreigners to visit Tibet. Prime Minister Wen has, however, promised that oncethe situation improved, the Government would take the initiative in taking a team of foreign journalists to Tibet. (March 18,2008)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and,presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies,Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )