India needs to be wary of two-faced China

While Beijing projects a mild face abroad, it has not been so ‘normal’ at home.

 Claude Arpi, | February 7, 2017

In the ski resort of Davos in Switzerland, President Xi Jinping of China surprisingly defended globalisation and free trade. In his address to the World Economic Forum, Xi asserted: “Countries should view their own interest in the broader context and refrain from pursuing their own interests at the expense of others. We should not retreat into the harbour whenever we encounter a storm or we will never reach the opposite shore.”

He was obviously targeting Donald Trump.

Two faces

An analyst in Forbes wrote: “It is China sounding reasonable, conciliatory, patient, ready to assume the mantle of leadership that so many are so eager to thrust upon it.” In India, many lovers of the Middle Kingdom feel so, but it does not mean that China has become a normal state.

The Middle Kingdom still has too many double standards, not only in the field of globalisation but also in the religious domain. China, today, has two faces: while projecting a mild face abroad, China has not been so “normal” at home, especially when it deals with religious issues and its “minorities”.

Take the recent Kalachakra empowerment presided over by the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya during the first two weeks of January. The Communist authorities were quick to denounce the Bodh Gaya event as “illegal” and the Tibetans (from Tibet), who would attend it, were threatened with dire punishment.

In the ski resort of Davos in Switzerland, President Xi Jinping of China surprisingly defended globalisation and free trade.
In the ski resort of Davos in Switzerland, President Xi Jinping of China surprisingly defended globalisation and free trade.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported: “Thousands of pilgrims from Tibetan populated areas of western China who had hoped to attend have been forced to return home though, while others have been blocked from leaving China.” RFA got hold of an official notification which was circulated in Dechen prefecture of Yunnan province: “Anyone engaging in these acts will be in violation of Article 55 (pertaining to national security) of the Public Security Law and will face severe consequences,” the notice said. But the same authorities forced a Kalachakra on the Tibetans in July 2016. Gyalsten Norbu, the boy selected by Beijing as the Eleventh Panchen Lama Party, officiated in Shigatse, the second largest town in Tibet.

The atheist Party, apparently knowledgeable in religious affairs, said that more than 1,00,000 Buddhist followers, some 100 “high” lamas and 5,000 monks and nuns attended the function. Monks and lay people were said to have come from remote provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan.

But the truth is that many of these “devotees” were coerced to attend the rituals. While Tibetans in China were forced to attend the Shigatse Kalachakra, they are forbidden to participate in the Indian one. Isn’t it a double standard?

But Beijing has other objectives in mind; it prepares the “reincarnation” of the next Dalai Lama. A series of old photos showing how Beijing’s Panchen Lama was recognised, recently appeared in the Chinese media. The fraud is not mentioned, a particular capsule (in which the name of the candidates were) lot used in the Golden Urn was longer than the others. It allowed the Party officials to select the candidate of their choice and discard the boy selected by the Dalai Lama.


No question of “globalising” the search of the next Dalai Lama, Beijing is currently promoting another boy, “identified” by the Party as the Seventh Reting Rinpoche. The 20-year kid was made the youngest member of the Tibet Regional Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. This move should be seen as a preparation to the post-Dalai Lama era, because the Fifth Reting had been one of the regents of Tibet during the minority of the Dalai Lama in the 1940s. The Chinese media already said that Reting was “eligible to be the regent of Tibet before the Dalai Lama takes over the reins of government upon coming of age.”

While Xi speaks big about globalisation and his pet One Belt, One Road project, most of the Himalayan passes which for centuries witnessed trade and cultural contacts between India and Tibet, remain hermetically closed. Instead of opening the borders, Beijing has recently reinforced its frontiers with India. Badro, deputy head of the Tibet border police, explained: “As Tibet further opens up with fast economic development, the border areas have witnessed more disputes and diverse criminal activities, including those involving separatism, illegal migration and terrorism.”


New regulation including a compulsory “Border Resident New Identity Card”, issued for border residents, have been introduced (the real purpose was probably to stop Tibetans to attend the “illegal” Kalachakra). Ironically, only the border between China and Pakistan is today open; it could be called “globalisation” with Chinese characteristics.

After Davos, many Indian “experts” dream of the new dawn in India’s relations with Beijing; they are advising the government against using the “Tibet Card”. But whether Delhi wants it or not, Tibet remains a “core” emotional issue, if not a “card”, in India. The Dalai Lama has still a tremendous influence on Tibetan and Indian crowds.

In a letter to Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar who attended the concluding ceremony of the Kalachakra, the Tibetan leader expressed his gratitude: “The organisational support including the extensive and thorough security arrangements contributed to the efficient and smooth running of this large event. Officials of your various departments have spent a great deal of time and effort in ensuring the success of this Kalachakra Empowerment.”

This need not be called a Tibetan “card”, but ignoring it and accepting the double standards of China would be definitively be a mistake. Let us get it straight: As long as Beijing has double standards, China will not be a “normal state”.


(Courtesy of Mail Today.)