Wednesday, September 15, 2010



Mr.George Yeo, Singapore's Foreign Minister, has hurt the feelings of large sections of the Tibetal Buddhists in China and abroad, including India, by providing legitimacy to the action of the Chinese Communist Party in arresting in 1995 His Holiness the Panchen Lama chosen by the Tibetans in accordance with their tradition and imposing on them an individual chosen by the Chinese Communist Party as the 11th Panchen Lama.

2. The nominee of the Chinese Communist Party has not been accepted by the Tibetan people and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Chinese have till now refused to release the Panchen Lama chosen by the Tibetans and allow him to perform his functions as a religious leader. Confronted with a situation where the Tibetans and other Buddhists of the world are not prepared to recognise the legitimacy of the Panchen Lama imposed on the Tibetan people by the Chinese Communist Party,the Chinese Government has mounted an exercise since the beginning of this year to build up the image of their nominee in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. In this connection reference is invited to my article of June 17,2010, titled "Bringing up their Panchen Lama" at

3.The Chinese have further extended this exercise now in order to build up his image abroad. As part of this exercise, the Chinese authorities arranged a meeting between their nominee and Mr.George Yeo at Beijing on September 14, 2010, during a visit by the Singapore Foreign Minister to China. It has been reported that the Chinese Party-nominated Panchen Lama accepted an invitation extended by Mr.George Yeo to visit Singapore. Even though this has been projected as part of an exercise to promote contacts between Buddhists in the two countries, its political significance in providing legitimacy to the actions of the Chinese Communist Party in interfering in the religious affairs of the Tibetan Buddhists and tampering with their traditions cannot be missed.

4. The Chinese have made it clear on many occasions that when His Holiness the Dalai Lama dies, his successor will be chosen by the Communist Party and Government as they did in the case of their nominee as the Panchen Lama. The action of the Singapore Foreign Minister in providing legitimacy to Chinese actions in denying freedom of religion to the Tibetan people could be a prelude to his providing legitimacy to the Chinese Party imposing on the Tibetans a Dalai Lama in Chinese Communist Party colours.

5. It is understood that Mr.George Yeo, who paid a controversial visit to Tibet in August last year, has been taking close interest in the project of the Government of India for the revival of the Nalanda University. His action in providing legitimacy to actions of the Chinese Party, which were an affront to the Tibetans and other Buddhists, has to be strongly deplored. In view of this, there is a need to re-examine his continued association with the Nalanda revival project. (16-9-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )



The Chinese leadership is increasingly concerned over the firm line till now taken by the Japanese leadership over the incident involving a Chinese fishing trawler and a Japanese Coast Guard vessel in what Japan considers its territorial waters adjoining the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

2.Japan, which considers the islands its territory, is in administrative control of the disputed small group of islands and reefs. China calls the group the Diaoyu Islands and claims that the group historically belonged to China from the days of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The question of sovereighty over the group of islands has assumed importance due to a belief that the area is rich in oil and gas. China has been saying that Japan should concede Chinese sovereignty over the group. In return, China would agree to a joint development of the natural resources of the area by the two countries.

3.In the face of the Japanese insistence over its sovereignty, an incident involving a Chinese fishing trawler and a Japanese Coast Guard vessel in the area on September 7,2010, has to a led of war of nerves between the two countries initiated by Beijing. The Japanese Coast Guard vessel, which questioned the intrusion of the trawler into what Japan regards as its territorial waters, was involved in a collision with the trawler. The Chinese project the incident as an accidental collision. The Japanese seem to suspect that the captain of the trawler, acting on instructions from the People's Liberation Army (Navy), deliberately rammed the trawler against the Coast Guard vessel.

4. Initially, the Japanese detained the trawler and its crew, including the Captain, for investigation. They have since released the trawler and the crew except the Captain. The Captain is in the custody of the Japanese Police and is to be produced before a court on September 19. Beijing through diplomatic channels and through the Government-controlled media has mounted a war of nerves against Japan in order to intimidate Tokyo into releasing the Captain without prosecuting him. The Japanese Ambassador in Beijing was called to the Chinese Foreign Ministry five times since the incident took place to be warned of the consequences should the Captain not be released without prosecution.

5. The Japanese determination till now----apparently with quiet American backing---not to release the Captain has put Beijing in a dilemma. If it did not have its way in this war of nerves and force Tokyo to concede its demand, it could be seen as a humiliation. This could be politically embarrassing to President Hu Jintao. If the Chinese forced a naval confrontation with the Japanese Navy, this could strengthen growing fears in the Asian region that China has started using its military muscle to enforce its territorial claims. Today, the confrontation is with Japan in the East China Sea. Tomorrow, it could be with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea. The day after,in Arunchal Pradesh with India over the Chinese claims to Indian territory in that area.

6. At the same time, there is a fear in China of the implications of a likely use of China's naval force against Japan. It could strengthen anti-Chinese feelings in Japan and damage the considerable economic relations with Japan, without which the Chinese economic miracle would not have been possible.

7. After having stepped up diplomatic pressure against Japan---in vain so far---- the Chinese are trying to mobilise public pressure.Calls are going out through the Internet to Chinese netizens to demonstrate in Beijing against Japan on September 18 if the Japanese do not release the Captain by then and to boycott Japanese goods. Patriotism is a double-edged weapon. If it fails to intimidate Japan, it could acquire an anti-Japanese momentum of its own the consequences of which could be unpredictable.

8. These fears are reflected in the calls being made to Beijing by some of its analysts not to over-react by losing patience. Patriotism against Japan, yes, but with prudence so that the political leadership does not end up by dropping the stone of patriotism on its own feet instead of on the feet of Japan. This advice is reflected in an editorial on the subject carried by the party-controlled "Global Times" on September 16. The editorial is annexed. (16-9-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi , and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )


China should not be easily irritated

( "Global Times" editorial of September 16, 2010)

The latest incident near the Diaoyu Islands has sparkled anti-Japanese sentiments among Chinese citizens.

After Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan won a party vote to stay in power, his ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa, arrived at the Chinese foreign ministry later on Tuesday, asking China to take proper measures to prevent a worsening of the conflict between the two countries.

The Chinese government would never deliberately stir up domestic nationalism, because this will ultimately undermine China's own social order and national prospects.

However, along with the emergence of a diversified society, ordinary Chinese now have more courage to express themselves. Media, especially the Internet, has become the main outlet that conveys grass-roots opinions on international issues.

What the Chinese government needs to do is to facilitate orderly and effective delivery of ordinary people's voices to the outside world, whereas making sure that overly impulsive voices and actions will not bring about internal friction.

When it comes to national sovereignty and dignity, ordinary Chinese do have the right to express all kinds of notions, including radical ones.

A China without voices calling for a fight with Japan and boycotts against Japanese goods is not a real China with 1.3 billion people. But on the other hand, China has to ensure the rational transmission of various grass-roots voices. Violence that took place during the 2005 anti-Japanese demonstrations should not be repeated.

China is often depicted as an "irritated" country in overseas media reports. China should stay cool-headed, because radical flames can burn down sober actions. Those who provoke China are often powerful and sophisticated diplomatic veterans. What they revere is actually cool-headed wisdom as well as the deliberation of countermeasures.

The mainstream notion of external affairs is healthy in China. The minority who try to kidnap patriotism and undermine social order will always exist.

How to restrain such "patriotic thieves" and facilitate the normal expression of social thoughts is also a part of China's political enlightenment.

Bringing home the boat captain that is being illegally detained by Japanese authorities poses a challenge to both the Chinese government and ordinary people. It's necessary to let Japan feel the threat from grass-roots Chinese against its interests.

Some grass-roots organizations should help common people express and act in a proper way. Only then will Japan show honest reverence toward grass-roots Chinese.