Tuesday, February 2, 2010



Even while pretending to avoid the discourtesy to His Holiness the Dalai Lama of discussing what could happen after him while he was still alive, the Chinese authorities have indirectly dwelt on this subject at a press conference held on February 2,2010, to brief the Beijing-based media on the outcome of the ninth round of the dialogue with Mr.Lodi Gyari and Mr.Kelsang Gyaltsen, the special emissaries of His Holiness , from January 26 to 31. It is understood that the dialogue consisted of one day of formal talks in Beijing and a visit to minority-inhabited areas for a briefing on China’s policy towards its ethnic minorities.

2. The Chinese Communist Party was represented in the talks with the representatives of His Holiness by Mr.Du Qinglin, Vice-Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and Mr. Zhu Weiqun, Executive Vice-Minister of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee. The media briefing was held by Mr.Zhu.

3. Mr.Zhu made it clear that it was not a Sino-Tibetan dialogue, but a meeting with two “private representatives” of the Dalai Lama on the future of His Holiness and his associates and not on the future of Tibet and the Tibetan people. He dismissed the Dalai Lama's claim of being the "legal representative" of Tibetans. He said: “The Chinese Government and the Government of Tibet Autonomous Region under its leadership are the only representatives of Tibetans.”

4. He said that during the talks, the Dalai Lama's “private representatives” refused to "revise a single word" in the Memorandum for All Tibetans to Enjoy Genuine Autonomy which they had presented at the previous round, nor did they make any concession. They insisted that the Dalai Lama is "a legal representative of broad Tibetans" and would like to talk with the Central Government about the "Tibet issue" and "the welfare of 6 million Tibetans," he said.

5 Mr.Zhu added: "The so-called 'Tibet government-in-exile' composed of those who defected to India and gathered there absolutely violates China's laws. The private representatives have no legal status to discuss with us the affairs about Tibet Autonomous Region. They are only the Dalai Lama's private representatives, so they can only talk about the prospect of the Dalai Lama, at most, the prospects of a small party around him."

6. Mr.Zhu also warned of serious damage to Sino-US relations if US leaders were to meet with the Dalai Lama, saying the move would "harm others but bring no profit to itself either." The US side would violate international rules by making such a decision. Such a move would be both irrational and harmful, he said. "If a country decides to do so, we will take necessary measures to help them realize this."

7. He said the talks with the representatives of the Dalai Lama "had some upside" as they let both sides know exactly their differences and how wide the differences were. He added: "It helps the Dalai Lama realize the position he has been in. The Central Government wanted to give the Dalai Lama a chance to correct his mistakes by holding talks with his envoys. The talks were not without result, as the Central Government arranged trips for the envoys to visit central Hunan Province to better understand the country and the regional ethnic autonomy policy.”

8. According to Mr.Zhu, when the previous round ended in November,2008, after the Chinese rejected the Memo presented by the representatives of the Dalai Lama, Mr.Lodi Gyari left saying they would not want any new round of talks, but this time after the latest round failed, Mr.Lodi Gyari said the talks will continue in the future.

9. Mr.Zhu objected to some of the past remarks of His Holiness describing himself as “ a son of India” and projecting Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese describe as southern Tibet, as belonging to India, and asked: "Can these act and words of the Dalai Lama improve relations with the Central government?" Mr. Zhu said it was imperative that the Dalai Lama should "match word to deed." What he sought to convey was that if His Holiness really felt that Tibet was part of China, he should not support India’s claim to Arunachal Pradesh.

10. He added that the Central Government wanted the Dalai Lama to abandon his alleged attempts to split the country, cease separatist activities, openly admit that Tibet was an inalienable part of China and Taiwan was an inalienable part of China and the Government of the People's Republic of China was the only legal government representing China.

11. The most interesting part of the briefing was about what could happen in Tibet after His Holiness. Mr.Zhu was asked by one of the journalists if he felt that the Tibetan issue would become more difficult to handle after the death of the Dalai Lama. He replied: “ Chinese people, including Tibetans, will decide the future of Tibet. It is not polite in China to talk about the possibility of a 75-year-old man passing away. We hope he can live a long life. The Central Government hoped the Dalai Lama could settle his affairs concerning his own prospects while still alive and would not pass away abroad. Since the armed rebellion in 1959, what did the Dalai Lama get except that he was pushed further and further away from the journey home? His followers should ponder what they should do when the Dalai Lama departed this life.”

12.Asked to comment on whether there would be an upsurge of violence and terrorist activities after the death of the Dalai Lama,Mr. Zhu said he believed most Tibetans living abroad loved peace and would like to contact their family and friends in Tibet and be engaged in Tibet's development. It could not be ruled out that a few people would turn to violence, but history had showed that violence and terrorist activities would inevitably end in failure. (3-2-2010)

( 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 )



In their reaction to the decision of President Barack Obama to go ahead with the sale of a new arms package to Taiwan, the Chinese authorities have been a following a dual tactics similar to what they had done before the Beijing Olympics of August 2008, when there was a threat of a boycott of the opening ceremony by some Western countries such as France over the issue of human rights in China.

2. This dual tactics consisted of encouraging a public clamour for strong retaliation against the West through sections of China’s media and Internet users in the form of boycott of Western goods, while the State itself sought to convey an impression of acting with restraint despite the perceived provocation from the West and the demands from the public for strong retaliation. The Chinese tactics worked. There was no boycott.

3. In reacting to the decision of the Obama Administration to go ahead with the long-pending arms sale to Taiwan, the Chinese have been encouraging their party and Government controlled media units such as the “Global Times” and the “China Daily” to demand strong action against the US companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which,inter alia, manufacture some of the weapons and military equipment, which are proposed to be sold to Taiwan, while the Government itself has till now restricted its retaliation to suspending military exchanges with the US, while talking of the available extra option of sanctions against the US companies.

4. At the same time, the Chinese have carefully avoided any talk of a wider retaliatory action such as suspending fresh investments in the US treasury bonds or even reducing their current holdings in the US bonds, which might damage the US economy.

5. The present Chinese concerns are confined to two issues: Firstly, securing a commitment from the US that there will be no more arms sales to Taiwan even if the present package is not re-considered under Beijing’s pressure and , secondly, to ensure that Mr.Obama does not revert to the past policies of the Clinton and Bush Administrations of maintaining interactions with His Holiness the Dalai Lama under some cover or the other. The Chinese have been sending out warnings that if Mr.Obama receives His Holiness during his visit to the US later this month, they would find it even more difficult to resist public clamour for a strong retaliation against the US than today.

6.While deciding on the appropriate options available to Beijing, the Chinese authorities are keen that the escalation of rhetoric on the Taiwan and the Dalai Lama issues does not damage China’s economic linkages with the US. The present Chinese economic recovery is largely due to their pumping money into their market in order to boost the domestic purchase of manufactured goods to compensate for the loss of overseas orders, particularly from the US. The Chinese realize that the continued recovery of their manufacturing sector would depend on the recovery of the US economy and the resumption of the flow of large orders from the US. They do not want to take any hasty action which could reverse the present trend towards economic recovery.

7. If China has a credible weapon against the US in the form of its bond holdings in the US, the US has an equally potent weapon against China in the form of the dependence of the Chinese manufacturing sector on the US market. The Chinese Government will therefore continue to be measured in its reaction while letting the public clamour for even stronger action continue for some time. ( 3-2-10)

( 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 )