Tibet and North East India: Political pawn between India and China

On 10th March 1959, Tibetan revolted against Chinese rule in Lhasa. After that, on 12 March 1959, Tibetans marched in Lhasa ( Capital of Tibet) declaring independence of Tibet from Chinese rule. Since then, many Tibetans observe 10th March as Tibetan Uprising Day. Predictably, China could contain the uprising by 1962, but Dalai Lama could flee to India and was hosted by Indian government since then.

This also marked a sharp changes in relation between Tibet and India, specially in Tawang which is inside Indian territory as per McMohan line, border between India and China. Buddhists Monastery in Tawang used to pay tribute to Lhasa before 1959 and it showed black flag to Indian Political officer’s visit to Tawang in 1953.

India and China went to war in 1962 which is widely publicised as territorial dispute between India and China. But it seems to revolve mainly around Tibet. India is yet to recognise Chinese sovereignty over Tibet and uses the diplomatic jargin “suzerainty” and has been hosting Tibetan Government in Exile. China has also been repeatedly claiming Tawang as its territory and now a days claim whole of Arunachal Pradesh. China has routinely been intruding to Indian territory and also keeps provoking India diplomatically.

1. It started issuing stapled visa to residents of Jammu and Kashmir recognising it a disputed territory, probably on behalf of its friend Pakistan.

2. It routinely denies visa to Indian passport holders from Arunachal Pradesh and advising them to visit China any time they want without any visa or permission.

3. Recently, there has been many reports about China trying to forge alliances among insurgent groups of North East India.

Apart from these diplomatic offensives, China has also built up massively militarily in Tibetan plateau with massive development of road, rail networks.

Though, India has not reacted sharply few years ago, it has now started asserting itself. It has started building infrastructure in North East India, building new army bases. It has also stationed its advanced Sukhoi aircraft in North East India which are capable of carrying nuclear weapon, apparently aiming to counter Chinese military build up in Tibet.

Recently, it is reported that China has stopped issuing stapled visa to Kashmir residents. It is not known what concession India has offered to China for this. But with 10 March nearing, China must be worried about developments in Tibet. China also objected to recent visit of Indian defence Minister A K Antony to celebrate 25th year of Arunachal Pradesh as state of India. Indian government later reacted sharply to Chinese objection.

With present Dalai Lama in India not keeping well, most probably, we might see some political movements by China in order to try to legitimise its occupation over Tibet. Most probably, independent Tibet is better choice for peace in Indian northern border.

So, in the political contest between India and China, both Tibet and North East India may be on boil all the time till both the countries resolve the Tibetan issue. India will always play Tibetan card to check Chinese advances while China might play up insurgency in North East India.

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