Tuesday, April 29, 2008



As the olympic torch reaches the culmination stage of its world run in Vietnam, a special lantern lit from the same flame has been taken to the base camp of Mount Everest on the Tibetan side of the Himalayan mountains for being taken to the top of the Everest. A team of 30 journalists --- 19 Chinese and 11 representing foreign media--- was also taken from Beijing to the camp on April 28,2008, to cover the event. A team of Chinese mountaineers has been acclimatising itself at the base camp before starting the climb. The Chinese have not announced when the climb will start and when the final climber or climbers with the lantern will reach the summit, but it is expected to be before May 10,2008. Previously, the Chinese were planning to make this a high-profile event. However, in view of the continuing unrest in the Tibetan-inhabited areas, they have now been treating it in low key.

2.The torch, which has reached Vietnam after being taken to Japan, South Korea and North Korea will be taken across China covering all provinces. It is expected to reach Lhasa on June 19,2008. It will first be taken to the Potala Palace, the historic residence of the Dalai Lamas. It will be received by the Chinese Communist Party nominee as the Panchen Lama. Thereafter, it will be taken across some areas of Tibet. In the expectation that by then the situation in Tibet would have returned to normal, the Chinese have been mobilising members of the Han Chinese community in Tibet and other provinces of China to assemble at Lhasa to give a big welcome to the arrival of the torch in Lhasa and to greet its reception in the Potala Palace by the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama. There is a possibility that one or two important leaders of the Chinese Government may also go to Lhasa to be present on the occasion.

3. If the situation in Tibet improves by then, the Chinese are likely to remove the restrictions on the visits of foreign journalists and tourists to Tibet so that they could see the big welcome being planned for the torch. Worried over the possibility of fresh demonstrations by Tibetan youth and monks on the occasion, only carefully vetted members of the local Tibetan community will be allowed to participate in the function.

4. There are conflicting signs from Beijing regarding the reported willingness of the Chinese for a fresh dialogue with a representative of the Dalai Lama.While the only incomplete indictors on the subject have come from the Hsinhua news agency, the government-controlled media have kept up their campaign of demonisation of the so-called Dalai clique and the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), which is repeatedly and virulently projected as a terrorist organisation. While the Western countries have welcomed the reported Chinese willingness for a fresh dialogue, the Dalai Lama has not reacted enthusiastically . He and his advisers seem to suspect that it is a tactical move to deflect international pressure and to lower the temperature in Tibet.

5.On April 25,2008, the Hsinhua circulated the following report: "China's central government department will meet with Dalai's private representative in the coming days, Xinhua learned from official sources on Friday.In view of the requests repeatedly made by the Dalai side for resuming talks, the relevant department of the central government will have contact and consultation with Dalai's private representative in the coming days," an official said. "The policy of the central government towards Dalai has been consistent and the door of dialogue has remained open," he said. "It is hoped that through contact and consultation, the Dalai side will take credible moves to stop activities aimed at splitting China, stop plotting and inciting violence and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games so as to create conditions for talks." It is interesting to note that the Chinese do not call His Holiness as the Dalai Lama. They insist on referring to him only as Dalai in order to underline that they do not recognise him as the leader of the Buddhist religion in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China.

6. Subsequently, the US-funded Radio Free Asia reported as follows: "Kalsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama’s special envoy in Europe, has acknowledged that he was contacted by Chinese authorities about the proposed talks but has given no details. The exile Tibetan prime minister, Samdhong Rinpoche, suggested the time wasn’t right for renewed discussions. “We feel it will require normalcy in the situation in Tibet for the formal resumption of talks, and we are committed to take all steps including informal meetings to continue in bringing about this situation,' he said in a statement.“It is our position that for any meeting to be productive it is imperative for the Chinese leadership to understand the reality and acknowledge the positive role of His Holiness the Dalai Lama rather than indulging in a vilification campaign that is even contained in this same Xinhua report,” Samdhong Rinpoche said.

7. Western Governments have been under contradictory pressure from their human rights activists and business houses. While the human rights activists have been urging that they should keep up the pressure on China on the Tibetan and other issues, the business houses, which have invested heavily not only in the Chinese economy, but even in the Olympic Games itself, have been urging that the Dalai Lama should be advised to tone down his campaign against the Chinese and keep the TYC under control. They are against any action against the Olympics or before the Olympics, which might be seen by the Chinese people as an attempt by the West to humiliate China and its people.

8. In the debate in Chinese web sites, there have been references to what is described as the asymmetric soft power enjoyed by the West by virtue of its perceived control of the global media. There is anger over what the Chinese people see as the exaggerated focus on the versions of His Holiness and a black-out of the versions of the Chinese Government. There have also been allegations of mischievous coverage by TV channels such as the BBC and the CNN. It is pointed out that when violence broke out in Lhasa on March 14,2008, with widespread attacks on the members of the Han community and their property by the Tibetans, the Western TV channels showed visuals of the action being taken by the Nepalese and the Indian police against Tibetan refugees demonstrating in Kathmandu and Dharamsala without specifying that these visuals were from Nepal and India and not Tibet. Such projection tended to create a wrong impression in the minds of the viewers that these scenes were from Lhasa.

9. The Chinese have sought to counter the soft power of the Western media through the soft power of the patriotic response of the Chinese people and the overseas Chinese diaspora. After being on the defensive for some days in the wake of the determined anti-Chinese campaign mounted by the Tibetan diaspora in co-ordination with their Western supporters, the Chinese went on a patriotic offensive by mobilising hundreds of the overseas Chinese in South-East Asia, Australia, Japan and the two Koreas to welcome the Olympic torch and to counter the demonstrations by Tibetans and their supporters. The overseas Chinese community in Europe also held patriotic demonstrations to condemn the attacks on the torch in London and Paris.

10. Similar demonstrations were organised in China itself particularkly against the French and the French super market chain called Carrefour. There were calls for an economic boycott of the French. This had an immediate impact on the French. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France rushed two special emissaries to Beijing to soothen Chinese sensitivities. While continuing to call for a resumption of the dialogue between the Chinese and the Dalai Lama, the French have conceded that the conditions imposed by the Chinese for this are reasonable. (29-4-08)

( The writer 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Sunday, April 27, 2008



Since 2005, Prachanda, the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), has become a lovable mascot of the liberal elite of thecountry----particularly in New Delhi. They see nothing but positive in him. His pre-2005 record has been forgotten---- the brutal massacre ofinnocent civilians in different parts of Nepal by the well-trained, well-armed and well-motivated insurgent army raised by him, his contactswith the Shining Path guerillas of Peru, his role in helping the Maoists in India, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, his fulminations against India,particularly against the Indian Army, his devotion to Mao Zedong's Thoughts, his raising of his insurgent army with the cladestine support ofthe royal family in order to use it against India, his turning the insurgents against the monarchy after having benefited ftom its largesse etc.

2. For the elite, he has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis. From a Maoist, he has become a Dengist---for whom pragmatism and notideological rigidity should guide policy-making. His fulminations against India stopped. He embarked on a charm offensive directed at Indiaand its elite. His supporters from the Indian elite welcomed him with open arms and took him round the corridors of power and the labyrinthof think-tanks in Delhi. They all hailed the born-again democrat, who wants nothing but genuine democracy in Nepal. He made it apparent inmany of his statements in Nepal that he would not consider democracy as genuine unless it enabled him to become the President of arepublican Nepal, but that did not sound a jarring note in New Delhi. The desire to encourage his seeming metamorphosis became thedriving force of policy-making and the negative comments emanating from him from time to time were overlooked.

3. Anybody, who drew attention to his pre-2005 past and urged caution in assessing him and his metamorphosis, was frowned upon andeven abused . I was, therefore, not surprised by the torrent of abusive and denigrating messages, which were triggered off by my earlierarticle titled "Valid Reasons For A Military Take-Over in Nepal." As if I had committed an act of blasphemy by writing that article.

4.Welcoming an insurgent movement into the political mainstream and integrating it in the mainstream is a delicate process, which has tobe handled carefully and gradually so that in our over-eagerness to achieve integration, we do not make the problem worse. We have a goodrecord of managing the process of integration. We did so successfully with the so-called Naga Federal Government (NFG) under IndiraGandhi as the Prime Minister in the 1970s and with the Mizo National Front (MNF) under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Ministers inthe 1980s. Indonesia has recently embarked successfully on a similar exercise for the integration of the Free Aceh Movement.

5.Many issues came up during the long negotiations with the NFG and the MNF--- such as, their giving up the use of violence and acceptingthe Constitution of the country, the Government accepting their legitimate demands relating to greater political and economic role, therehabilitation of their armed cadres after they surrender their weapons and their participation in the elections.

6. Their participation in the elections, winning them and taking over power as part of an over-all peace settlement already arrived at beforethe elections came as the culminating stage of the process. Till the culminating stage, the negotiations were held between the Governmenton one side of the table and the insurgent leaders on the other side. The insurgent leaders were the negotiators of the process and not thedecision-makers. The ground rules for the integration were decided upon by the policy-makers of the Government on the basis of thenegotiations with the insurgent leaders, who had no role in finalising the ground rules and in implementing them.

7. The most difficult stage of the exercise is the integration and rehabilitation of the armed cadres as part of the process. All insurgentorganisations demand that their armed cadres be integrated into the Army or at least the security forces. We did not agree to integrate theminto the armed forces, but the Army was encouraged to make recruitment in the civil societies of the affected states to convince the peoplethat they had been accepted without any mental reservations as part of the national mainstream. Eligible cadres of the insurgentorganisations, who were not involved in murders or assassinations, were inducted into the local police and central police organisations.Alldecision-making was in the hands of the Government till the culminating stage.

8. In Nepal, the reverse has happened. Taking advantage of the popular uprising of 2006 against the widely-detested King , the Maoistsentered the coalition Government, which replaced a Government of royalist stooges, and started dictating terms as to how the integrationshould take place. They themselves became one of the policy-makers to decide on the process of integration. The integration is takingplace not on the basis of negotiations between the Government and the insurgents, but in response to diktats issued from time to time bythe Maoists in return for their continued participation in the Government.They are all the time giving out discreet threats that if their diktatsare rejected, they might quit the Government and revert to insurgency.

9. The holding of the elections to the Constituent Assembly before the ground rules for integration were agreed upon and the victory of theMaoists in the elections----significant, but not spectacular as projected by sections of the media--- have led to a situation where the Maoistswill be at the head of a Government which will take crucial decisions on the post-facto legitimisation of the terrorist infrastructure raised bythe Maoists and on the ground rules for the integration of their ideologically motivated and well-trained cadres. The moment the Maoistsassume leadership in the seats of power and decision-making, will it be possible to resist their demands?

10. If the integration of over 3000 ideologically indoctrinated cadres of the insurgent army into the Nepal Army comes about, we will have to the west of us an army ideologically motivated by jihadi doctrines and to the east of us an army ideologically motivated by Marxism,Leninism and Mao's Thoughts.

11. There are two possible scenarios--- these fears turn out to be baseless and Prachanda turns out to be a genuine democrat and agenuine friend of India or Prachanda after the elections turns out to be different from Prachanda before the elections and takes Nepal on aroad, which would be detrimental to our national interests.

12. While hoping for the first scenario, we must be prepared for the second.

13. Highlighting stark realities is not an act of blasphemy. It is an important component of threat analysis.(28-4-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

Saturday, April 26, 2008



"Ultimately, we will have to fight with the Indian army. That is the situation. Therefore, we have to take into account the Indian army. When the Indian army comes in with thousands and thousands of soldiers, it will be a very big thing. But we are not afraid of the Indian Army because, in one way, it will be a very good thing. They will give us lots of guns. And lots of people will fight them. This will be a national war. And it will be a very big thing. They will have many difficulties intervening. It will not be so easy for them. But if they stupidly dare...they will dare, they will be compelled. They will do that stupidity. We have to prepare for that. And for that reason we are saying we will also need a particular international situation. And for us this has to do mainly with India, Indian expansionism. When there is an unstable situation in India and a strong mass base there in support of People's War in Nepal and there are contradictions within the Indian ruling class-at that point we can seize, we can establish and declare that we have base areas, that we have a government." ----Prachanda, the Nepalese Maoist leader in an interview to a Latin American journalist. Please see my article titled "THE MAOISTS OF NEPAL: Three perspectives" dated July 13,2001, at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers3/paper277.html

As a successful democracy, India cannot support a military coup in any country.

2. But sometimes, in our national interest, we may have to close our eyes to a military take-over or to the evils of a military rule in a neighbouring country.

3.As we have been doing in the case of Myanmar for over a decade now.

4. As we did in Bangladesh last year when chronic political instability seemed to be pushing the country into the hands of jihadi terrorists of various hues and various vintages.

5. We may be well-advised to do so if the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) decides to prevent the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) led by Prachanda, which has emerged as the leading party in the recent elections, from using its position as the leader of the Government to convert the RNA with its glorious traditions into the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of Nepal patterned after the PLA of China and North Korea and after the Cuban Army.

6. In his statements and interviews before the elections, Prachanda has given clear indications of their priorities if the Maoists came to power. First, have the monarchy abolished and proclaim Nepal as a Republic with a Presidential style of Government. Second, himself assume office as the President of Nepal. Third,abrogate all existing agreements with India and re-negotiate those of them, which are considered to be in Nepal's interests. And four, merge the armed cadres of the Maoists into the RNA to convert a royalist army into a people's army.

7.After Mao Zedong's PLA captured power in China in 1949 and proclaimed the People's Republic of China, the PLA became the army of the State. The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party proclaimed China as the "rear base" for all communist movements in Asia. It assisted North Korea in its war with the US-led coalition, North Vietnam in its war initially against the French and subsequently against the Americans and the South Vietnamese Army and the communist insurgencies in Malaysia, Northern Thailand and Myanmar and helped the Indonesian communists in a big way till the military coup staged by the Indonesian Army under President Suharto saved the country from falling into the hands of the communists. The Burmese Army under Gen.Ne Win similarly captured power in the early 1960s to prevent their country from falling into the hands of the communists and other ethnic insurgent groups. In 1979, after 30 years of trying to export Maoism, Deng Xiaoping changed this policy and stopped exporting the revolution to other countries.

8. After capturing power in Cuba in the early 1960s, Fidel Castro converted his armed guerillas into the army of the state and embarked on a policy of exporting the Cuban revolution to other Latin American countries, with Cuba serving as the rear base. The death of Che Guavera, who was asked to have this policy executed, allegedly at the hands of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) put an end to Cuba's communist dreams in Latin America, but till today, the Cuban Government and Communist Party continue with their attempts at political subversion in the Latin American countries.

9.Only Vietnam proved a refreshing contrast. After they defeated the Americans and the South Vietnamese Army in 1975 and re-united their country, they concentrated on developing the country and avoided all ideological adventures abroad.

10. Which model Prachanda and his Maoist followers will follow---the Chinese, the Cuban or the Vietnamese? If one goes by his past statements and interviews, he is likely to follow a mix of the Chinese and Cuban models and not the Vietnamese. He has always been attracted by the idea of Nepal serving as a rear base for exporting the Maoist revolution to India. He has also viewed a destabilised India preoccupied with internal security as in the long-term interests of Nepal. We should not allow his present charm offensive towards India make us forget his past.

11.Till now, our military planners have been worried over the dangers of India being confronted one day with a two-front war----with Pakistan and China.We now have to think seriously about the dangers of a three-front war with Pakistan, China and Nepal.

12. Once the communists accede to power---through an armed revolution or through the ballot box---- they try to see that nobody else can dislodge them. There have been exceptions, of course. Nicaragua, for example. But, there the communists were prevented from entrenching themselves through strong US support for non-communist elements.

13. It is neither in the interests of Nepal nor of India for the Maoists to entrench themselves in power and convert the RNA into the PLA of Nepal and turn Nepal into a rear base to help the Maoists in India. The plans of the Maoists for a presidential style of Government in Nepal with all powers concentrated in the hands of Prachanda and with the RNA replaced by the PLAN should be thwarted. All genuinely democratic forces in Nepal and the military leadership should join hands to prevent the communists from carrying out their long-term designs.The communists will fight back ferociously all attempts to deny them the fruits of power. The fear of a possibly bloody riposte by the communists should not deter those worried over the implications of the Maoists' plan from acting before it is too late. (26-4-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi,and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventryone2@gmail.com )

Wednesday, April 23, 2008



"A puzzling question for the Chinese is: How can India put all its strategic policy eggs in the baskets of three sunset leaders, namely, President George Bush, who will be out next year, Mr. John Howard of Australia, who may be out by the end of this year, and Mr. Shinzo Abe of Japan (he is already out) ? A convergence of views and interests with these sunset leaders will be ephemeral and of uncertain benefit to India and its people, whereas any convergence with the Chinese leadership would be durable and of definite benefit to India and its people. So, it is said. " ---Extract from my article titled "Seeing China From Chengdu" of September 19,2007, available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers24/paper2381.html

Mr.John Howard, the previous Australian Prime Minister, is out after he and his Liberal/National coalition were defeated in the elections held on November 24,2007 . The policy-makers of other countries, including China, knew that Mr.Howard's days were numbered and that they should not put their policy eggs in his basket. They waited for the Australian elections before undertaking any major policy initiative. When Mr.Kevin Rudd of the Australian Labour Party, succeeded Mr.Howard as the Prime Minister and changed the main contours of Australia's foreign policy, they were not taken by surprise.

2. Indian policy-makers, whose decisions are influenced more by wishful thinking than by hard ground realities, rushed into one initiative after another without waiting for new leaders to emerge in the US, Japan and Australia. They embraced the proposal for a so-called concert of democracies involving India, the US, Japan and Mr.Howard's Australia. They engaged in nuclear castle-building in the air in the fond expectation that Mr.Howard's Australia will support the lifting of restrictions on nuclear trade with India by the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) when the Indo-US agreement on civilian nuclear co-operation comes up before it and that it would sell uranium to India as it has been selling to China. They joined the five-power naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal in September,2007, involving the navies of India, the US, Howard's Australia, Singapore and Japan.

3. All their big-power castle-building in the air has come down with a crash after Mr.Kevin Rudd took over as the new Australian Prime Minister. One of his first decisions after taking over as the Prime Minister was that Australia would not sell uranium to India. This decision was publicly announced. Another decision being talked about, but not yet publicly announced was that Australia would not support India in the NSG.

4. His second major decision was that Australia would not participate in the concert of democracies and in any other arrangement which might create in China concerns that it was being encircled. That means, no more Australian participation in joint naval exercises which might cause concern in Beijing.

5. His third major decision was to undertake an 18-day visit to countries considered by him as important to Australian interests in order to explain the policies of his Government. Japan and India were not in the list of countries chosen by him. Subsequently, he and his advisers tried to soothen Japanese sensitivities by stressing that the exclusion of Japan from this list did not mean any down-grading of Japan's importance for Australia.

6.China, China, China, China and more of China was the recurring theme of his speeches in the countries visited by Mr.Rudd, who had spent nearly eight years as an Australian diplomat in Beijing and reportedly speaks the Chinese language fluently. The joke in the English-speaking countries visited by him was that he seemed to be more confident in the Chinese language than in English. His English language is as incomprehensible as the sudden turns in Australian foreign policy introduced by him.

7. The only country not surprised by the Australian foreign policy volte face caused by him is China. It had closely studied him during his long years in Beijing. It had correctly assessed his fascination for China and his seeming contempt for India. His indifference to India was apparent during his first overseas tour. Wherever he spoke, his preoccupation was with Australia's relations with the US and China. Hardly any reference to India.

8. Though there are indications that he would favour India becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council and joining the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) organisation and that he might visit India later this year, he does not envisage any role for India in any new security infrastructure for the Asia-Pacific region. His poor opinion of the ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum,the ASEAN plus three, the East Asia Summit and the APEC was obvious. During his interaction with a select audience in the Brookings Institution of Washington DC on March 31,2008, he indicated his preference for the six-power group----of which China is a member and India is not--- which has been negotiating with North Korea on the nuclear issue being expanded to constitute the hard core of any new security infrastructure for the region.

9. In his interactions at the Brookings,he sought "common ground" between China and the international community in a bid to make the Asian giant a "responsible stakeholder" contributing to a "harmonious" global and regional order. China has always welcomed the emergence of India as a major Asian power, but one rung below it---- not on par with China. Bejing looks upon China as an emerging world power on par with the US and India only as an emerging Asian power on par with Japan. Mr.Rudd seems to agree with this perspective.

10. It has been reported that during his visit to Washington DC, President Bush could not succeed in making Mr.Rudd agree to support the nuclear agreement with India in the NSG. If true, this would put an end to India's hopes of having the NSG restrictions on nuclear trade with India lifted before the end of the term of Mr.Bush.

11. India's action in welcoming a stop-over by the Iranian President Mr.Mahmud Ahmadinejad at New Delhi on his way back to Teheran after a visit to Colombo later this month and New Delhi's strong rebuttal of the remarks of a US State Department spokesperson on the stop-over are a clear indication that New Delhi has come to terms with the ground realities and is trying to restore the status quo ante in India's foreign policy making before the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh's visit to the US in July,2005, when the nuclear deal was signed. Since then, there have been major distortions in our foreign policy in favour of the US. Are we seeing the beginning of the end of at least some of these distortions? (24-4-08)

(The writer 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )



(This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of November 13,2007, titled "Iran to Fund Sri Lankan Arms Purchases" at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers25/paper2455.html )

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad of Iran is to visit Sri Lanka for two days from April 28,2008, in response to an invitation from President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had visited Iran in November,2007. His engagements will include the inauguration of the construction of the Iranian-funded ( US $ 450 million) Uma Oya hydroelectricity project at Wellawaya in the Monaragala district. When completed, the project is expected to produce 100 megawatts of electricity. The visit is also expected to result in the finalisation of an agreement for Iranian financial and technical assistance for enabling the Sapugaskanda oil refinery to handle Iran’s light crude. This project is expected to result in a further Iranian investment of US $ one billion.

2. In this connection, quoting Sri Lankan media, the "Teheran Times" of April 20,2008, reported as follows: "Iran will increase its investment in the expansion project of an oil refinery in Sri Lanka up to US$ one billion, Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development Minister A.H.M. Fowzie said. According to the IRNA office in Tokyo, Fowzie in an interview with Kyodo on Wednesday said: "Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has allocated this amount which would cover 70 per cent of the required investment for the refinery's expansion, in the form of a 10 year loan, with a five year exemption period from payment of the loan's instalments." Fowzie added: "Iran had earlier too provided the oil we need free from interest for four months." According to the report, Iran is the largest provider of crude oil to Sri Lanka. According to the Kyodo report, Managing Director Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) Ashantha De Mel has said that the pilot study for increasing the production of Sri Lanka's only refinery from 50,000 to 100,000 barrels per day has been completed by Iranian oil engineers. De Mel added: "Iran would make the major part of the required investment for expansion of this oil refinery (70 per cent) and the CPC would cover the rest (30 per cent)." Fowzie said the project would yield noticeable benefits for its investors. He said: "From the economic point of view my affiliated ministry too is interested in making investments there." According to Kyodo, De Mel who visited Iran in early April 2008, expects the project's executive phase to begin within the next three to four months. Oil experts predict that Sri Lanka's oil refinery would increase its production after the Iranian oil engineers would end their work within the next two to three years."

3. Iran has also agreed to provide low-interest credit to Sri Lanka to enable it to purchase military equipment from Pakistan and China and to train a small group of Sri Lankan Army and intelligence officers in Iran. A team of about 10 officers has already proceeded to Iran for training after a clandestine visit to Sri Lanka by Brigadier Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the Director-General of Iran’s Quds Force, or the Jerusalem Brigade, which is, inter alia, responsible for covert actions against Israel and for liaison with friendly foreign intelligence agencies. He is expected to come again as a member of the entourage of the Iranian President for further discussions on intelligence co-operation between the two countries.

4.According to reliable sources, Israel is reported to have expressed to Colombo its concern over the developing relations between Sri Lanka and Iran and warned that this could come in the way of supply and sale of Israeli military equipment to Sri Lanka in future. It has been reported by these sources that Sri Lanka has already shared with the Iranian intelligence copies of the instructions, training and maintenance manuals of the Israeli equipment purchased by it in the past and allowed some officers of the Quds Force to inspect the Israeli equipment. (23-4-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Saturday, April 19, 2008



It is learnt that the Chinese leadership is facing difficulty incontrolling the Neo Red Guards, who have let loose an anti-foreignersand anti-Buddhists campaign to protest against foreign support to thefreedom struggle of the Tibetans and against the attacks on theOlympic Flame during its recent passage through London and Paris.

2. Whereas the protests in China are till now directed only againstthe French, the protests by the overseas Chinese are directed againstthe authorities of the UK, France and the US and the media of those countries. It is learnt that the protests inside China as well asabroad are being sponsored and directed by the Ministry of PublicSecurity, which is China's internal intelligence and security agency.Mr.Meng Jianzhu, the Minister for Public Security , is viewed by manyas the head of the new group of Neo Red Guards, which is increasinglydictating the Tibet policy after the uprising began in Lhasa on March10,2008, and from there spread to other Tibetan-inhabited areas ofTibet, Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan.

3.There have been demonstrations against the outlets of Carrefour,the French super-market chain, in Beijing and other Chinese cities. A campaign for an economic boycott of France and French products has also been launched by the Neo Red Guards.

4.Hundreds of overseas Chinese studying or working in the UK, Franceand the US have been mobilised to protest against the recent incidentsin London and Paris during the passage of the Olympic Flame andagainst the attempts to organise similar incidents in San Francisco,which were, however, thwarted by the local authorities. The orchestrated Chinese anger against the Western media has been particularly concentrated against the CNN, which has been accused of anti-Beijing bias in its coverage.

5. According to reliable sources, the Chinese leadership is worried that if these protests continue, it may foul the atmosphere in the months leading up to the Beijing Olympics of August,2008. The Chinese leadership's dream of projecting the Games as a spectacular exercise in international harmony has been badly damaged. Its appeals for cooling the anti-foreigner campaign have had no effect so far. The Neo Red Guards are reportedly of the view that countering what they see as an international conspiracy to bring about a splitting-up of Tibet and Xinjiang from China is more important than holding the Olympics in harmony. They are, therefore, not worried about the likely adverse impact of their campaign on the Olympics.

6.As part of its Patriotic Re-education campaign, the Ministry ofPublic Security has ordered all Buddhist monasteries in the Tibetan-inhabited areas to fly the Chinese national flag side by side with their religious flag. The monks have been resisting this order.The number of arrests so far is estimated to be more than two thousand. These figures include those arrested for their suspected participation in the violent incidents after March 10, those detained as a preventive measure and those arrested for refusing to fly the Chinese national flag.

7. The orders issued by the Ministry of Public Security to fly the Chinese national flag do not apply to the places of worship of the Muslims in the Xinjiang province. (20-4-08)

(The writer 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )



That is what the Chinese wanted.

That is what the Government of India gave to them.

It did well to give to them what they wanted--- an undertaker's procession for the Olympic Flame as it passed through New Delhi on April 17,2008.

This is not the first time the world is going to have an Olympics.

This will not be the last time.

This is not the first time before the Olympics that the flame lit in Olympia in Greece has been taken through different countries---- togive the people of those countries the happy feeling of being associated with the Games.
And this will not be the last time.

But, what the world is going to have in Beijing in August is an Olympics with a difference.

What the world has been having since the flame was lit in Olympia is a flame with a difference.

What New Delhi had on April 17 was not a flame of joy, brotherhoodand harmony, which would make the world look forward to the Games in August.

It was a flame of sorrow, shock, disgust and troubled conscience which made us dread the advent of August.

Sorrow over the death of over a hundred Tibetans in the
Tibetan-inhabited areas of China since March 10----for no other reason than that they demanded their rights in their homeland.

Shock over the ruthless manner in which the Chinese troops killed the Tibetans.

Disgust over the so-called Patriotic Re-education campaign unleashed by the Neo Red Guards and over the vilification campaign against the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan youth, who rose in revolt.

A shocked conscience over the world's inability to go to their rescue.

When an Olympic flame is taken through a city, people in their hundreds of thousands flock to see it.

They cherish memories of the occasion so that they can tell their children and grand-children in the years to come that they were the proud spectators of the flame being taken across the world.

Hardly anybody came to see the flame in Delhi except some Government servants, staff of the Chinese Embassy and communists and their fellow-travellers.

One did not have people in their hundreds of thousands.

Instead, one had policemen and para-military forces in their thousands.
More than were deployed for the visit of President George Bush in March 2006 and for the visit of President Hu Jintao in November,2006.

The flame came to Delhi in stealth, was taken through the city in a procession that resembled the procession to a graveyard and quickly taken out of Delhi to Bangkok.

Planes diverted from Delhi, traffic dislocated, all Tibetans kept under surveillance like the Chinese keep them In Tibet.

And what did the Chinese leaders and officials tell their people through their Government-controlled media.

The flame was received and witnessed by the Indian people in their thousands, who shouted slogans in support of the Olympics and the dearly-loved Chinese people.

China has a Government and a party, which do not have the courage to face the truth.

And, which do not have the courage to tell the truth to their people.

China is a great country with a glorious civilisation.

Its people definitely deserve a Government of which they can be proud and which is loved by all sections of their own people.

It is time for the Chinese people to join hands with each other to strive for such a Government. (19-4-08)

(The writer 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Friday, April 18, 2008


Till now, analysts have been talking and writing only of the dangersof cyber-terrorism to States and civil societies.

2. China has, for the first time, experienced the lethal force ofCyber Democracy and has started showing signs of fears of its likelyimpact on the stability of the authoritarian Chinese State and itsclosely-controlled civil society.

3. The uprising of large sections of the Tibetans against what theyperceive as the Han colonisation of their traditional homeland andsuppression of their Buddhist religion, which started in Lhasa onMarch 10,2008, and has been continuing since then in various forms,has been planned and orchestrated by Tibetan youth located indifferent parts of the world. Hundreds of Tibetan youth living indifferent democratic countries, who had never met each other and whocame to know each other only through Internet chat rooms anddiscussion groups, pooled their ideas together and decided to takeadvantage of the year of the Beijing Olympics to launch a movement forTibetan independence and democracy under the leadership of the TibetanYouth Congress (TYC).

4. Even if the movement is ultimately crushed after a few weeks byChina's Neo Red Guards, who are dictating the policy on Tibet, withthe help of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the third TibetanUprising of 2008--- the earlier two having taken place in the 1950sand the 1980s--- will go down in history as the first people'srevolution made possible by the power of the Internet's connectivity.This revolution might be crushed ultimately by the PLA, but neitherthe PLA nor the Chinese intelligence will be able to eradicate thispower.

5.Not only the Chinese, but even His Holiness the Dalai Lama and hisclose advisers were taken totally by surprise by the manner in whichyoung Tibetan boys and girls---- with the help of their youngnon-Tibetan friends in different civil societies--- planned thisuprising sitting behind their personal computers and had their plansexecuted.

6. The Chinese as well as His Holiness and his advisers are worriedover the dilution of their control over the youth and its implicationsfor the future of Tibet. His Holiness was in favour of only a peacefulmovement coinciding with the Olympics in support of the ethnic andreligious rights of the Tibetans. He did not want an anti-BeijingOlympics movement, but young Tibetan boys and girls, wielding thepower of the Internet, turned it into a global movement against theBeijing Olympics. His repeated appeals against any attempts tosabotage the Olympics have fallen on deaf ears till now.

7. The initial Chinese response was to close down all servers beingused by the Tibetans and try to impose an iron curtain on theInternet. They found this very difficult to achieve. There wereseepages through the Iron Curtain They realised that the Iron Curtain,which served the purpose of the USSR, cannot serve the purpose of theChinese State in this age of the Internet.

8. The Ministry of Public Security, which is China's internalintelligence and security agency, then decided to counter-attack theTibetan youth and their foreign supporters doing unto them what theywere doing unto the Chinese. Young Internet-literate Chinese boys andgirls, not only in the overseas Chinese diaspora,, but also in theChinese civil society were mobilised to unleash a counter-campaignagainst the Tibetan youth and their foreign supporters.

9. Young Chinese boys and girls, who were indignant over what they sawas acts of anti-Han brutality of the Tibetans and the distortedprojection of the events by the Western media and human rightsorganisations, joined in the Internet-based campaign against theTibetans and their foreign supporters. The outpouring of theirpatriotism was as impressive as the outpouring of the patriotism ofthe American people after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the UShomeland by Al Qaeda.

10. The beginning of the patriotic campaign was state-inspired anddirected, but after a few days, it assumed a momentum, direction andflavour of its own.There were indications of a xenophobia and all thecontrols, which the Chinese State had been exercising on the use ofthe Internet, started showing signs of melting away. The moderatorsnominated by the Ministry of Public Security to moderate thisInternet-based campaign and to prevent it from taking directions whichcould be detrimental to the Chinese State, found themselves unable tomoderate effectively.

11.Fears that the exercise in controlled Cyber Psywar launched by theMinistry could turn into an uncontrollable exercise in CyberDemocracy with criticism of not only the Tibetans and their foreignsupporters, but also of the Chinese leadership itself for lettingitself be taken by surprise have caused the Chinese authorities to tryto apply brakes on the campaign. The Chinese are also worried that themounting anti-foreigner feelings as a result of this Internet-basedcampaign might lead to unpleasant incidents against foreigners duringthe Olympics.

12.The Ministry of Public Security and the offices of the CommunistParty in different parts of the country have reportedly been tellingthe young Chinese that they have achieved their patriotic purpose andthat it is now time to cool it.

13.But will they be able to? (19-4-08)

(The writer 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 ForChina Studies. E-mail:seventyone2@gmail.com )

Saturday, April 12, 2008



After San Francisco, the Olympic flame is likely to have anxiousmoments at Islamabad (April 16), New Delhi (April 17) and Tokyo. AtIslamabad, the problem, if any, could be from the survivors of thePakistan Army's commando action in the Lal Masjid last year andanti-Chinese elements in the Uighur diaspora. The Tibetan issue willnot pose a problem there.

2.The students of the Lal Masjid madrasas hold Beijing responsible forforcing President Pervez Musharraf to order the commando action,during which about 300 tribal students were allegedly killed. Thesupport of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto for the commando action allegedly costher her life at the hands of jihadi terrorists. The anger over thecommando action remains strong and is directed against the PakistanPeople's Party (PPP), the leader of the present ruling coalition,which had also supported the commando raid.Musharraf ordered thecommando action after the madrasa students kidnapped some Chinesewomen working in beauty parlours and accused them of beingprostitutes. The anger of the Uighurs is due to the allegedsuppression of their ethnic members in Xinjiang and over thesuccessful Chinese pressure on Saudi Arabia during the last two yearsnot to issue pilgrimage visas to the Uighurs in Pakistan.

3. There will be very anxious moments in New Delhi because of theactivism of the highly-motivated Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), butthey may not have the same kind of street support from sections ofthe Indian civil society as the Tibetan residents had in London, Parisand San Francisco. The Dalai Lama's departure to the US---thoughostensibly in pursuit of long-scheduled programmes---is also meant tocool the temperature so that the Government of India is notembarrassed. Another possible reason is that he doesn't want to givethe Chinese an opportunity to make further allegations against himshould something go wrong on April 17.

4. In Tokyo, one could again see a mix of Tibetan activism andsections of the local civil society in action.Both the Chinese andJapanese authorities are prepared for it.

5 Unfortunately, in India and the rest of the world, the debate,which started after the violent incidents of March 10 to 18,2008, hasfailed to make a distinction between the "Tibetan card" and the'Tibetan issue". Many of the so-called hawks, including some retiredofficers of the Indian Foreign Service and leaders of the Hindutvagroup, as well as anti-China elements in the West look upon thepost-March 10 developments as providing a "Tibetan card", which can beexploited against China for different strategic objectives.

6. In the case of the Indian hawks, they want the Government to usethe Tibetan card to correct the past policy mistakes relating to thetotally unwise Indian action in recognising Tibet as an integral partof China without a quid pro quo from Beijing in the form of arecognition of Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India.

7. I was myself tempted to join this hawks' brigade, but refrainedfrom doing so after careful thinking. I have come to the conclusionthat this will be a cynical approach which could provecounter-productive. We should not give the impression that we areexploiting the spilling of Tibetan blood and the justified emotionaloutburst of Tibetan youth not for getting a better future for theTibetans, but to serve our own national interest. Nothing can be moreunfortunate than such an impression among the Tibetans.

8. In the West also, many look upon the shocking mishandling of theTibetan people by the neo Red Guards of the Chinese Government andCommunist Party as providing a welcome stick to beat the Chinese within this year of the Beijing Olympics. The respect for the human rightsof the Tibetans is not the primary issue. Needling Beijing is theprimary issue.

9. We need policies and an approach in India as well as the West basedon the conviction that the long-neglected Tibetan issue---meaning theobservance of human rights and giving the Tibetans a genuine voice andgenuine political opportunities and religious freedom in their ownhomeland-- has led to the present situation and that unless thegrievances and anger of the Tibetan people are addressed in adisinterested manner the problem is likely to continue. Our policiesshould be based on a genuine interest in the Tibetan people, theirplight and their future and not on exploiting their uprising forserving our own national interest.Let us keep the spotlight on the TIBETAN ISSUE and resist the temptation to use the Tibetan anger as acard for narrow purposes.

10. Despite the widespread adverse reaction against China all over theworld, the Chinese have not blinked and are unlikely to blink even ifthere are more violent incidents as the flame is taken to the top ofthe Everest and across Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. In theirapprehension, any weakening of their stand on Tibet could mark thebeginning of their losing control over China's sensitive peripheryconsisting of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.

11. At the same time, once the Olympics are over there would behopefully re-thinking in the Chinese Government and Party over themess created for them by the mishandling of the Tibetan issue by theneo Red Guards and other hawks. This could result in policy andmanagement correctives meant to address the widespread alienation.Wein India should not lose our ability for discreetly promoting suchre-thinking and policy correctives by taking an unbridled hawkishapproach. His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be in the centre of anydebate on such correctives.(12-4-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt.of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, the Institute ForTopical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the ChennaiCentre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Thursday, April 10, 2008



Before the outbreak of the disturbances in Tibet and the adjoining Tibetan-inhabited areas on March 10,2008, the Chinese Olympic Organising Committee had planned to take the Olympic torch to Tibet twice. It was to be taken first to the summit of the Everest from the Chinese side by a group of Chinese mountaineers and then taken to other provinces. Thereafter, it was to be brought back to Tibet for a second time for being taken across Lhasa, the capital, and adjoining areas.

2. The Committee had announced the dates of the second run as between June 19 and 21,2008, but it had kept the dates of the climb to the Everest a secret to prevent the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) from disrupting it.However, one could guess that it would be in the laast week of April and the first week of May,2008, from the fact that the Chinese authorities had imposed a ban on foreign tourists and journalists travelling to the Himalayan foothills till May 10. They had pressured the Nepal Government to ban all expeditions to the Everest till May 10, since they were afraid that the TYC volunteers may climb the Everest from the Nepal side and cause an avalanche on the Chinese side as the flame was being taken to the top of the Everest.

3. It is learnt that in the wake of the continuing unrest in the Tibetan-inhabited areas, the matter was considered by the party leadership in Beijing and a suggestion reportedly made by Prime Minister Wen Jiabo that the torch should be taken to Tibet only once between June 19 and 21 and that the proposal for Chinese mountaineers to take it to the top of the Everest should be abandoned. This suggestion was reportedly accepted. Though no official announcement was made about it, Chinese officials in Beijing and Lhasa indicated that the ban on the travel of foreign tourists to Tibet would be lifted from May 1.

4. However, this position has been changed and Chinese officials have been saying that they are determined to take the torch to the top of the Everest whatever be the consequences and that the ban on the foreign tourists going to Tibet would continue even after May 1 till further orders. They apparently intend lifting the ban only after the torch had been taken to the top of the Everest, brought down and taken to other provinces.

5. The reiteration of the plan to take the torch to the top of the Everest is reported to have been the outcome of a strong opposition from a group of Neo Red Guards consisting of Mr.Meng Jianzhu, the Minister for Public Security, Mr. Zhang Qingli, the head of the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet, and Mr.Qiangha Puncog, the head of the Tibetan Government. It is understood that the policy on Tibet is increasingly dictated by this group, which enjoys the support of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). This group reportedly argued that any plans to abandon the climb to the Everest with the torch could be seen by the Tibetans as a sign of weakness and could further worsen the situation. Its views prevailed.
6. In the meanwhile, after nearly a month of vicious attacks on the so-called Dalai clique, which was held responsible for the uprising in Tibet, the Government-controlled media has now turned its guns on the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), whose activities are being compared to those of Al Qaeda and the Chechen terrorists in Russia. The Government-owned "People's Daily", which has been carrying articles on this subject, has avoided giving the impression that these are its views. Instead, it has been projecting them as the views of Chinese netizens, having their own blogs.
7. Annexed is the text of an interview given by Mr. Zhang Qingli to "Spiegel", the well-known German journal, on August 16,2006.(10-4-08)

(The writer 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )


Text dated August 16,2006 of an interview given by Mr.Zhang Qingli, to 'Spiegel", the well-known German magazine
SPIEGEL: Mr. Zhang, Tibet is traditionally a deeply religious country, whereas the Chinese Communist Party is secular. Marx called religion the opium of the masses. How do you reconcile the two?
Zhang: Nature is diverse. Different life forms coexist and the world is colorful. This also holds true when it comes to ideology. We emphasize harmony, so that different ideologies and ideas can live together in peace. The Chinese government practices religious freedom.
SPIEGEL: But since when has the Communist Party tolerated religion in its current form?
Zhang: The party and the government have a clear policy on religion. First, we have religious freedom. Second, religious communities must make their own decisions, and we cannot have interference from abroad. Third, they must be conducted and managed according to the laws. And, finally, we show them how to become integrated into socialist society. You can see the way it is in Tibet, where people make pilgrimages to the temples, turn their prayer wheels and pray to Buddha.
SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama is one of the world's most popular religious leaders, and he is deeply revered by the people of Tibet. But the government in Beijing sees him as a despicable separatist. Why?
Zhang:Five thousand Tibetan soldiers died during the supposedly "peaceful liberation" of the region. In 1959, the Tibetans rebelled against China and the Dalai Lama fled to India. In 1989, a bloody crackdown stamped out a renewed protest movement. Zhang: Our policy toward the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent. After the founding of the People's Republic and the peaceful liberation of Tibet, he was elected to a leadership position in the National People's Congress in 1954. He remained a member of that body until 1964. In 1956 he was named director of the preparation committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. All of this was done so that religious freedom could be guaranteed, and so that Tibet could be integrated into the great family of socialist nations. He fled the country in 1959. There is no doubt that at that time he was a widely respected religious leader.
SPIEGEL: And is he no longer that today?
Zhang: He did many bad things later on that contradict the role of a religious leader. The core issue is this: Everyone must love his motherland. How can it be that he doesn't even love his motherland? We have a saying: "No dog sees the filth in his own hut, and a son would never describe his mother as ugly."
SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama doesn't love Tibet?
Zhang: Tibet is the home of the 14th Dalai Lama, but China is his motherland. He deceived his motherland. He rebelled in the 1950s and in the late 1980s he incited unrest in Lhasa that was directed against the people, the government and society. He destabilized Tibet.
SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama is widely respected worldwide.
Zhang: If I remember correctly, from 1959 to the middle of this year he has made 312 visits to places all over the world, which comes to an average of six countries a year. It was even 12 in 2005. And what did he do during these visits? The goal of these so-called official visits was to form alliances with anti-Chinese forces and to engage in propaganda for his separatist views, which conflict with religion.
SPIEGEL: But much has changed in the world in the last 20 years. China has opened up and trade has become globalized. The question of power on the roof of the world has been resolved. The Dalai Lama has abandoned his claims to independence and agrees to a far-reaching autonomy for Tibet. Why isn't China generous and self-confident enough to allow the Dalai Lama back into the country, as he would like? Does he still pose a threat to you?
Zhang: We have a clear policy. The door to negotiations will always be open to him, but only when he truly and comprehensively abandons his intentions to divide the motherland, intentions that are directed against society and the people, only when he gives up his splittist activities and only when he openly declares to the world that he has given up claims to independence for Tibet.
SPIEGEL: Didn’t he do this long ago?
Zhang: The problem is that his behavior and his statements contradict one another. He says: "I want to take a middle path and I accept that there is only one China." But in reality he has not spent a single day not trying to split the motherland.
SPIEGEL: What do you mean by that?
Zhang: What his so-called middle path means is this: He wants to integrate Tibetan settlement areas in the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu into Tibet. He wants to be in charge of this "Greater Tibet" and he demands that the People's Liberation Army be withdrawn from the region. Besides, he wants to see a return to an earlier, theocratic feudal realm, as dark and gruesome as it was. In those days, government officials, noblemen and monks ruled 95 percent of the population. And he wants even more autonomy for Tibet than has been given to Hong Kong and Macau. That is splittism.
SPIEGEL: But haven't there already been talks between representatives of the Dalai Lama and Beijing?
Zhang: His government-in-exile is illegal. Our central government has never recognized it. No country in the world, including Germany, recognizes it diplomatically. There are no talks between the Chinese and his so-called government-in-exile. The current contacts merely involve a few individuals from his immediate surroundings. The talks revolve around his personal future.
SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama enjoys a great deal of sympathy in America, Europe and in Asia, also because the Chinese Communist Party is not particularly democratic.
Zhang: Frankly, the number of people who know the true Dalai Lama is very small. His supporters include enemies of China, but also the true faithful, who are being led astray by this false religious leader. And, finally, there are those who do not understand the real situation.
SPIEGEL: Nevertheless, the Dalai Lama is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Zhang: I have never understood why a person like the Dalai Lama was honored with this prize. What has he done for peace? How much guilt does he bear toward the Tibetan people! How damaging is he for Tibet and China! I cannot understand why so many countries are interested in him.
SPIEGEL: For many Europeans, Tibet is still a country full of myths. A new railroad line to Lhasa was inaugurated a few weeks ago. What does it mean for Tibet?
Zhang: We are very pleased about this railroad. Everyone is convinced that what the Communist Party has achieved on the roof of the world is a miracle. It demonstrates China's strength and its economic and technological progress. But, more important, the railroad shows that the Chinese Communist Party is doing everything it can to improve life for the various nationalities in the border regions. Tibet is now economically linked to other provinces and the rest of the world.
SPIEGEL: There are rumors that China has nuclear weapons stationed in Tibet. Can you confirm this?
Zhang: I can assure you with all responsibility that this is all a complete fantasy. There is no nuclear weapons factory in Tibet.
SPIEGEL: The Dalai Lama is 71. He has hinted that there may not be a successor or reincarnation. How will you react? Will you nevertheless encourage a search for a reincarnation?
Zhang: The current Dalai Lama is the 14th. We do not know how much longer he will live. We believe that good people live longer while bad people live shorter lives.
SPIEGEL: Then the Dalai Lama, at 71, must be a good person.
Zhang: It is difficult to say whether he is good or bad. But when we consider his actions, he does not appear to be a good person.
SPIEGEL: If the Dalai Lama doesn't want a successor, will the Communist Party then say that this is a good thing? Or will it undertake its own efforts to search for a successor in Tibet?
Zhang: There has always been a specific system to search for a successor to the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. According to the historic rules and religious rituals, monks must travel throughout the country and draw lots from the Golden Urn. But the central government has the final say.
SPIEGEL: Will there be an official and an unofficial Dalai Lama, one in Tibet and another in India? After all, since 1995 there has been a dispute over the Panchen Lama, Tibet's second most important religious leader. The Dalai Lama recognized one Panchen Lama, but Beijing approved another.
Zhang: The reincarnation of the Panchen Lama has been regulated since the Qing dynasty, that is, since the 17th century. The search for and naming of the 11th Panchen Lama was done strictly in accordance with historic rules. This is why he was recognized by the central government. He is the legal Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama broke the historic rules during the search for the Panchen Lama. He didn't even have the Golden Urn from which to draw lots. The Dalai Lama creates chaos. But the market for him here in Tibet is shrinking.
SPIEGEL: Religion appears to be gaining strength in many parts of the world, such as in predominantly Islamic regions and in the United States. Isn't religion also on the rise in Tibet?
Zhang: Religion is a historic phenomenon that will continue to exist for a long time. Our religious policy is very relaxed, and it is in keeping with realities. But religion may not operate against the law and may not interfere in justice, education, production and labor. In China, people are free to believe or not. We do not become involved in this personal decision.
SPIEGEL: But you have announced plans to strengthen the so-called patriotic education campaign in the monasteries, which is also directed against supporters of the Dalai Lama.
Zhang: Every nation on earth teaches its people to love their motherland. We are organizing patriotic education everywhere, not just in the monasteries. Those who do not love their country are not qualified to be human beings. This is a matter of common sense.
SPIEGEL: Do you actually speak Tibetan?
Zhang: Just a few words. I have only been here a few months. But I do want to learn the language.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Zhang, we thank you for this interview.
Interview was conducted by editors Stefan Aust, Andreas Lorenz and Gerhard Spörl in Lhasa.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008



What one is seeing across the world since the outbreak of the disturbances in Lhasa on March,10,2008, is a no-holds-barred confrontation between a small group of Neo Red Guards (as yet unidentifiable) in China, who are increasingly dominating policy-making on Tibet, and a very active group of Tibetan youth---many of them citizens or residents of Western countries--- who are decreasingly amenable to the advice and guidance of the Dalai Lama.

2. The hold of the Neo Red Guards on policy-making on Tibet can be seen from the kind of absusive references to His Holiness reminiscent of the kind of language used by the Red Guards at the height of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the disproportionate reactions of the State in Lhasa and Beijing to the indigenous Tibetan protests in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai as well as to the dogged demonstrations by Tibetan youth in London, Paris and San Francisco on the route of the Olympic Torch, the reversion back by the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing and its offices in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas to Stalinist and Mao Zedong era practices of brainwashing in the name of "patriotic re-education" of Tibetan monks and youth in one more attempt to eradicate the influence of His Holiness on their mind----despite the miserable failure of the paast attempts to do so.

3. The increasing disregard of the Dalai Lama and his advice by some sections of Western-resident Tibetan youth is evident from their going ahead with their attempts to disrupt the movement of the Olympic Torch and to sabotage the forthcoming Beijing Olympics despite the repeated statements of His Holiness against any act of disruption. For many months, His Holiness has made it clear that he was not opposed to the holding of the Olympics in Beijing. At the same time, he welcomed the opportunity provided by the Olympics to remind the international community of the continuing violation of the human rights of the Tibetans by the Chinese authorities. What he was having in mind was a non-violent movement similar to the movement launched by a group of activists headed by Mia Farrow against the Chinese assistance to the Government of the Sudan and by a group of Myanmar activists against the Chinese assistance to Myanmar's military junta. They have been following a policy of non-confrontational agitation in the form of protests in the media, peaceful demonstrations and processions, moral pressure on the Western corporate houses co-sponsoring the Olympics to withdraw their co-sponsorship if the Chinese do not change their policies and political pressure on their Governments either to boycott the Olympics or to downgrade its imporrtance by not participating in the opening ceremony. At the same time, they have not indulged in any acts of disruption similar to those indulged in by some Tibetan activists and their Western supporters.

4.The Neo Red Guards do not seem to realise that their shockingly abusive rhetoric and actions have only created greater sympathy for the Tibetan cause all over the world, with calls from many leaders for the resumption of the dialogue between His Holiness and the Chinese leadership. Even Mr.Kevin Rudd, the new Australian Prime Minister, who is not a compulsive critic of China, has openly expressed his disquiet over the Chinese policies during a visit to China and called upon Beijing to resume the dialogue.

5. The Chinese leadership has to realise that after what has been happening since March 10,2008, it can no longer push the Tibetan issue under the carpet.It has to come to terms with the ground reality that it has not been able to win the confidence of the Tibetan people despite the undoubted economic miracle in Tibet and that it can never hope to regain the confidence of the Tibetan people unless its policies are in tune with the wishes and aspirations of His Holiness and the Tibetan people.

6. It would be unrealistic to expect the Chinese leadership to agree to a resumption of the dialogue before trhe Olympics are over. They would see it as a loss of face for them and as likely to increase further agitations by the radicalised sections the Tibetan youth.But if the leadership in Beinjing is wise, it would realise quickly the harm that is being done to China's image by the rhetoric and actions of the Neo Red Guards and de-escalate the situation by reversing the present abusive campaign against His Holiness and by stopping the "patriotic re-education" classes.

7. Fortunately, President Hu Jintao has till now maintained a total silence on Tibet, thereby evidently keeping his options open. Despite his past controversial record in Tibet where he was posted for some years, he has a reputation that unlike his predecessor Mr.Jiang Zemin, he shuns unnecessary confrontations and has an open mind on important policy issues. It is said that he genuinely wants the distrust of China in some international circles to be diluted. Knowlegeable Chinese experts, who hold this view, cite as an example how he has de-escalated the Jiang era tensions over Taiwan with the US. It is time for him to assert himself and start a de-escalation process over Tibet too.

8.Since 2003, there have been indications that a group of foreign citizens ---mainly from the West---- of Tibetan origin have been radicalising the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and egging it on to disregard the advice of His Holiness in favour of non-violence and moderation and to adopt an increasingly confrontational line. In September last year, this group assumed a dominating influence in the TYC and has been behind the confrontation witnessed recently in Tibet, London, Paris and San Francisco.

9. The disruptive activities of this group are already showing signs of creating a backlash among other groups agitating over issues such as the Chinese policies on the Sudan and Myanmar. The backlash is partly due to jealousy over the greater public attention to the Tibetan activists and partly due to exasperation over the agitational style of the radical sections of the Tibetan youth.

10. One has to pay a tribute to the TYC for the determined manner in which it has succeeded in rousing the conscience of the international community on Tibet. At the same time, one has to caution it that some of its methods as seen in London, Paris and San Francisco could prove counter-productive.

11. It is doubtful whether the international community would have come out as vocally as it has on the Tibet issue but for the respect and attention commanded by the Dalai Lama. He is the best asset that the Tibetan cause has today. That asset should not be weakened by the Tibetan youth by disregarding his words of caution and going on a path of their own.

12. It is important to keep up the momentum of the Tibet movement alive. At the same time, it is equally important to discard methods which could damage the movement. (10-4-08)

(The writer 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Sunday, April 6, 2008



After a relative lull of about nine days from March 19 to 27,2008, there has again been unrest in Tibet and the adjoining Tibetan-inhabited areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai in the form of public demonstrations by the Tibetans and clashes with the security forces when they tried to disperse them.

2. Since March 27,2008, the anti-Beijing and pro-Dalai Lama incidents have been more frequent and widespread in Sichuan and Gansu than in Tibet. The last confirmed report of demonstrations in Lhasa was on March 29,2008, when a large number of monks and youth tried to take out a procession, but were dispersed by the People's Armed Police units. Subsequently, there were reports of strikes by Tibetan students in a number of educational institutions of the adjoining provinces.

3.On April 3,2008, at least one Tibetan monk was killed and many monks and students were injured when the the People's Armed Police opened fire on a crowd of nearly 1,000 monks and others near the Tongkor monastery in the Kardze area. The crowd was demanding the release of two monks earlier arrested by the Public Security Bureau. However, Tibetan exile groups have alleged that at least 15 Tibetans were killed in the firing. There was another protest by a large number of Tibetan monks and students on April 5,2008, in the same area. Fifteen Tibetans were injured when the police opened fire to disperse them. There are so far no reports of any fatalities. The official Xinhua news agency has admitted the incident of April 3, but not the incident of April 5, 2008.

4. The post-March 27 incidents have been triggered off by the continuing wave of arrests of suspected participants in the violent incidents between March 10 and 18,2008, and by the launching of a "patriotic re-education" programme in all the monasteries and educational institutions by the local Bureaux of Public Security. Under this programme, all monks and others are asked to gather in the centre of the towns and shout slogans denouncing the Dalai Lama as a traitor and affirming their loyalty to China. The Chinese intelligence and security forces personnel have also been searching houses for pictures of His Holines. The monks and students are then asked to make a bonfire of the pictures.

5. The monks and others have been countering the security forces by shouting slogans praising the Dalai Lama and calling for his return. Other slogans shouted by the demonstrators called for Tibetan independence in some towns and for democracy and the end of the Communist rule in some other towns. In places where the influence of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) is strong, the slogans shouted were for independence and in places where the TYC is not very active, the slogans were for democracy.

6. Since March 14,2008, when rioting Tibetan demonstrators in Lhasa attacked Hans and damaged or destroyed their property, there have been no other similar major incidents of anti-Han violence. The post-March 27 incidents have been directed mostly against party and government officials, including members of the security forces.

7. The Chinese authorities have claimed to have recovered a large quantity of arms and ammunition during house searches. Photographs of arms and ammunition allegedly recovered have been carried by the Government-controlled media. There is no way of confirming their claims. From the reports of Government-organised bonfires of the Dalai Lama's pictures received from the interior areas, it would seem that thousands of his pictures have been smuggled in despite the fact that it is a crime to possess his picture.

8. Since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1951, Beijing's policy towards Buddhism and the monks has passed through three stages. Between 1951 and 1959, the Chinese authorities refrained from interfering in religious matters. After the escape of His Holiness to India in 1959, they brutally suppressed Buddhism and the monks. They closed down the monasteries, confiscated all jewellery and other costly articles kept in them and forced the monks to give up their lives as monks and live like ordinary persons. The Buddhists and their monks also became the brutal victims of the Cultural Revolution.

9. Deng Xiao-ping changed this policy in 1979. The monasteries were re-opened and they were allowed to recall the surviving old monks recruited during the days of His Holiness and ordain new monks after the new entrants had been security-vetted by the Party and the Ministry of Public Security. Side by side with their religious education, the new entrants were also required to attend classess in patriotic education conducted by the local Communist Party. The lessons in these classes denounced the Dalai Lama and praised the leadership of the Communist Party. While allowing the monasteries to re-open, the Chinese drastically reduced the number of monks allowed in each monastery. The Chinese also forced those in charge of different monasteries to ordain a certain number of Hans as monks so that no monastery consisted exclusively of Tibetan monks. They were apparently using the Han monks to spy on their Tibetan counterparts.

10. The Chinese leadership was very confident that as a result of these measures and the patriotic education campaign and the economic development in the area, it had been able to eradicate the influence of the Dalai Lama on the monks and the local population. They have been totally unnerved to find that their confidence was misplaced and that the influence of His Holiness remains as strong as ever. They have been particularly shocked to find that the monks ordained after 1979 after being vetted by the Public Security Bureau are also as devoted to His Holiness as the pre-1959 vintage of monks, who were ordained by His Holiness. Not only that. The Hans infiltrated into the monasteries as Government-sponsored monks were totally oblivious of the goings-on inside the monsteries before the uprising broke out on March 10,2008.

11. In the disturbances since March 10, the old vintage of monks has remained by and large peaceful. While they shouted pro-Dalai Lama slogans, they avoided any violent confrontation with the Chinese security forces. It is the younger monks ordained under the strict supervision of the Communist Party and the Public Security Bureaux after 1979, who have been in the forefront of the demonstrations and violent incidents. They have been effectively networking with the local members of the TYC, which has reportedly set up many sleeper cells.

12. The Chinese authorities have been adamant that they would take the Olympic Torch to Tibet whatever be the consequences. They intend taking the torch twice. On the first occasion in the last week of April and the first week of May, it will be taken to the top of the Everest. It will then be taken to other Chinese provinces. It will be brought back to Tibet between June 19 and 21,2008, and taken across Lhasa and some other towns. A further escalation of violence can be expected during these two periods.(7-4-08)

(The writer 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Thursday, April 3, 2008



The unrest against the Chinese Government has spread from Tibet to the Muslim majority Xinjiang province of China. Since the beginning of this year, there were already indications of the revival of the Uighur independence movement as seen from the discovery of an Uighur sleeper cell in Urumqi, the capital of the province, by local officials of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, which is the Chinese internal intelligence and security agency. This was followed on March 7,2008,by an aborted attempt by three Uighurs---one of them a woman--- to blow up a civil aviation plane going from Urumqi to Beijing with the help of gasoline concealed inside a soft drink can, which had been smuggled into the plane. The attempt was thwarted by alert security guards on board the plane.

2.There was a fairly big demonstration against the Chinese authorities at Khotan in the Xinjiang province on March 23,2008. About 1,000 Uighurs, including many women, participated in the demonstration. The protest was triggered off by two events. Firstly, the alleged death in the custody of the Ministry of Public Security of Mutallip Hajim, a wealthy jade trader and popular philanthropist, who had been arrested on a charge of belonging to the sleeper cell discovered in January, 2008. Secondly, the anger of the local women over a long-standing order banning women from wearing scarves over their heads. Many of the Uighur women, who participated in the demonstration, defiantly covered their heads with scarves. The news of the demonstration was first broken by the US-run Radio Free Asia, which covered it on the basis of reports received from its sources in Xinjiang and Uighur political exiles in Turkey. The local authorities of Xinjiang initially denied and ridiculed the reports of the Radio, but they admitted on April 2,2008, that a demonstration did take place.According to a statement from the Khotan government in the Xinjiang region, "extremist forces" tried to incite an uprising in a local market place on March 23. "A small number of elements... tried to incite splittism, create disturbances in the market place and even trick the masses into an uprising," an official statement issued by the authorities said. It added:"Our police immediately intervened to prevent this and are dealing with it in accordance with the law."

3.The belated official confirmation of the incident has strengthened the credibility of the broadcasts of Radi Free Asia, which has now reported that the local authorities have undertaken house-to-house searches in the area looking for extremist suspects. Other independent reports from Tibetan sources also speak of a crack-down in Urumqi and other places, during the course of which over 100 Uighur Muslims have been detained for interrogation.

4.The continuing unrest in the Xinjiang province, which is attributed to pro-Western Uighur groups operating from Turkey and the Central Asian Republics as well as the pro-bin Laden groups operating from Pakistan, has unnerved the Chinese authorities, who are worried that the pro-Western Uighurs and the Tibetan youth might join hands to disrupt the Olympics. The pro-Western Uighur groups and the Tibetans have links with each other and with the intelligence agencies of the Baltic States through the Holland-based Unrepresented Nations' and Peoples' Organisation, allegedly funded by the US Central Intelligence Agency. Elements belonging to the organisation, which had played an active role in the anti-Moscow movement in the Baltic States, have now joined hands with the US-funded National Endowment For Democracy for supporting the anti-Beijing revolts in Tibet and Xinjiang and for encouraging a similar revolt in Hong Kong, with the help of Falun Gong elements. The Chinese are also worried about likely threats to the Olympic Torch from pro-Al Qaeda Uighur elements and from the students of the Lal Masjid of Islamabad, when it transits Islamabad on April 16 before being taken to New Delhi.

5.According to reliable Pakistani sources, in response to a request from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has agreed to visit Urumqi during a long-pending six-day state visit to China from April 10, to attend a meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia and appeal to the local Muslims to co-operate with the local authorities and not to let themselves be misled by the followers of the Dalai Lama. He is expected to visit a local mosque in Urumqi and address the local Muslim personalities there. Musharraf, who is keen to project himself as still enjoying the confidence of China, has welcomed the request of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and agreed to try to help the Chinese out.

6.Reports of continued peaceful demonstrations by Tibetan monks and students have been received from Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai, but there have been no fresh incidents of violence. Radio Free Asia has been disseminating detailed instructions to its listeners in Tibet and Xinjiang as to how to overcome the jamming of its broadcasts by the Chinese.

7.Pakistan and Nepal have been playing a double game in the recent events. Pakistan has been pretending to co-operate with the Chinese against the Uighur extremists. At the same time, it has allowed Radio Free Asia to produce many of its Uighur language programmes in Pakistani territory. Similarly, the Government of Nepal has been co-operating with the Chinese authorities for monitoring the activities of the Tibetan Youth Congress from Nepalese territory. At the same time. it has allowed Radio Free Asia to produce and transmit many of its Tibetan language programmes from the Nepalese soil. (3-4-08)

(The writer 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Wednesday, April 2, 2008



Dear Shri Aamir Khan,

I read with great interest your detailed reply to your relatives, friends, admirers and Tibetan activists in which you have justified your decision to be one of the bearers of the Olympic Torch at New Delhi on April 17,2008.

2.Inter alia, you have said in your justification : "I request those of you who have asked me to stay away from the Olympic Torch Relay to understand that when I do run with the torch on the 17th of April it is not in support of China. In fact it will be with a prayer in my heart for the people of Tibet, and indeed for all people across the world who are victims of human rights violations."

3. In 1936, on the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War and at the height of the Nazi atrocities, the Olympic Games were held in Germany. The human rights movement was not as active in those days as it is now. Despite this, many advocated the boycott of the Games and the Olympic Torch. Their appeals failed. Those, who participated without any qualms of conscience, gave exactly the same reasons as you have in your justification. The Olympic Games do not belong to China, you have rightly said. The Olympic Games did not belong to Germany, they said.

4. The question is not what you think and said about your participation. The question is how your participation is projected by Beijing to the suppressed Buddhists of Tibet and Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang, who have risen in revolt against what they consider as the Han colonisation of their respective homeland and what His Holiness the Dalai Lama has described as a cultural genocide of the Tibetans.

5. Wherever the Olympic Torch is being taken, the Chinese have been keen that some prominent Muslim and Buddhist personalities also participate in carrying the torch so that they can demonstrate to the protesting Buddhists of Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai and to the protesting Muslims of Xinjiang that prominent Buddhist and Muslim leaders in other countries have endorsed the Games.

6. The importance of your participation and of the participation of Shri Saif Khan to the Chinese was not only because you are both widely-admired film artists. It was also because both of you are widely-respected Muslim personalities.

7. The importance of the participation of Shri Baichung Bhutia, our football hero, to the Chinese was not only because he is a football hero, but also because he is a highly-respected Buddhist personality. He saw through their game and declined to let himself be used by the Chinese to serve their psychological warfare agenda in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai. One hopes he does not change his mind under pressure from our communists. It is a pity you have not seen through their game.

8. You have rightly said in your justification that no country is free from instances of human rights violations. Not even India. In this connection, you have referred to Kashmir.

9. You and others, who have written on this subject, are correct in their references to Kashmir, our North-East, the grievances and anger of our Khalistanis and Muslims etc. We too have been having problems with our religious and ethnic minorities just as the Chinese are having problems with their minorities in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. No country in the world has been free of such problems.

10.The question to be asked is not whether we have the same problems as the Chinese, but what has been our approach to these probelms. Do we deal with these problems in the same way as the Chinese do or do we follow a different approach?

11. The religious and ethnic minorities in India, who have taken to arms against the Government, have accused the Government and its policy-makers of rigging of elections, political, economic and social discrimination, lack of adequate political powers to manage their own affairs etc. They have accused the security forces of being prejudiced against the minorities, of excessive use of force against the minorities, of police torture etc. Has any group in India accused our Government and policy-makers of indulging in cultural genocide of the minorities as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the leaders of the Uighur Muslim community in China have accused the Chinese Government?

12. In India, since we became independent in 1947, no Government----whether of the Congress (I) or the Bharatiya Janata Party or any other party--- has ever even thought of settling the members of the majority community in areas where the minorities are in a majority in order to reduce them to a minority in their homeland. Pakistan has systematically settled Punjabi ex-servicemen in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and in the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) in order to reduce the ethnic Kashmiris to a minority in their traditional homeland. It has systematically settled Wahabised Sunnis in the Northern Areas in order to reduce the Shias, who are in a majority there, to a minority. China has systematically settled Hans from mainland China and the Hui Muslims from central China in Tibet in order to reduce ethnic Tibetans to a minority and dilute the majority status of Buddhism. It has similarly settled Hans in Xinjiang in order to reduce the Uighurs to a minority and dilute the impact of Islam. In our country, our laws will not permit such abuses.

13. In Jammu & Kashmir, no non-Kashmiri has ever been a Chief Minister. In Nagaland, no non-Naga has ever been a Chief Minister. In Mizoram, no non-Mizo has ever been a Chief Minister. Can you cite an instance since the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese in 1951 when an ethnic Tibetan has headed the local party and Government set-up?

14. We have been fairly regularly holding elections in the North-East and Kashmir except during periods when serious insurgency situations did not permit the holding of elections. In Kashmir, there were allegations of the rigging of the elections. Because of this,, in recent elections, we allowed foreign diplomats and jounalists to visit Kashmir before and during the elections to satisfy for themselves that the polls were free and fair.

15. Has China ever held a single democratic election in Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia since the Communists captured power in 1949?

16. We have many insurgent and terrorist organisations of the religious and ethnic minorities, which have taken to arms against the Government. Have you ever seen our political leaders and policy-makers indulge in a campaign of demonisation and personal vilification similar to the Chinese campaign against the Dalai Lama? Do you know what Beijing calls His Holiness--- a liar, a conspirator, a cheat, a terrorist and so on.Even President George Bush, in his demonisation of Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq, never used such expressions. Even the Chinese Red Guards, who ran amok in China during the days of Mao, never used such expressions against political dissidents.

17. The leaders of Kashmiri and other separatist organisations freely interact with our media. They are interviewed by our print and electronic media and invited to participate in our TV talk shows. You recently attended the World Leadership Summit of "India Today". I read in the media that one of those, who was invited to address the summit, was Yasin Malik, the leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. Can you mention a single instance since 1949 when Beijing has allowed a single dissident leader to similarly interact with the media and foreign diplomats? Have you ever seen a single interview of His Holiness in the Chinese media? Have you ever seen a single statement of his ever published in the Chinese media?

18. There is an international humanitarian instrument called the Second Additional Protocol to the International Red Cross Convention. It accords to the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) a locus standi to provide humanitarian relief in internal conflict situations. India has refused to sign this since it does not grant the ICRC a locus standi in internal conflicts. But, de facto, it observes many of the provisions of this Additional Protocol. It has allowed the ICRC to have a big office in New Delhi. It has permitted senior retired police officers to act as consultants to the ICRC office. It has allowed the ICRC to conduct training classes in human rights for our security forces. It has allowed ICRC delegates to visit jails in Jammu & Kashmir to enable them to satisfy for themselves that humanitarian laws are being observed even in respect of terrorist suspects. Has China done any of these things in its minority provinces?
19. The Government of India recently allowed Mrs.Asma Jehangir, the well-known Pakistani human rights activists, who has been appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights, to visit Gujarat and J&K to look at the human rights situation for herself. She has come out with a very critical report. Will China allow the UN to appoint a similar Special Rapporteur for Tibet to enquire into His Holiness' allegation of a cultural genocide in Tibet?

20.The way we handle our problems in the minority areas is totally different from the way the Chinese handle them. We handle them like civilised, democratic people. The Chinese handle them like Hitler and Stalin used to do. It is, therefore, totally unfair and incorrect to project as you have sought to do and as many leftist-minded intellectuals in India have sought to do as if China is more sinned against than sinning and that its negative human rights record is no different from that of many other countries, including India.

21. I have myself been a strong supporter of the Olympics being held in Beijing. I wrote even after the recent outbreak of the revolt in Tibet that we should not support the moves for a boycott of the Bejing Games because by doing so, we will be humiliating over a billion Chinese people because of the misdeeds of their leaders and policy-makers.

22. At the same time, I have been of the view that we should not help China in giving a great shine to the Games despite all that has been happening in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia as if nothing has happened. A lot has happened in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. A lot of blood has flown. A highly-respected religious leader of the world has been insulted and demonised like no other religious leader of the world has ever been demonised.

23. The Beijing Olympics has already become a blood-stained Olympics. The Chinese are frantically trying to remove those blood stains. We should not help them in their efforts to do so. By lending your name and prestige to the Torch run, you are unwittingly helping the Chinese to cover up the blood stains.

24. You have millions of admirers as an artist all over the world. You will continue to have millions of admirers what ever be your final decision. But many of them will have feelings of vacuum in their hearts over your failure to distinguish between the right and the wrong.

Warm regards,
Yours sincerely,

Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi---now based in Chennai.