Tibet and Indian Realpolitik Interests

09 Jun, 1999    ·   198

Senthil Ram says India will definitely get the support of the West if it talks about the suppression of human rights and cultural genocide in Tibet

The chain of errors in India ’s China policy started with New Delhi ’s failure to challenge the Chinese occupation of Tibet . The present strategic developments in Tibet is very dangerous for Indian security interests. The lack of any tangible progress in resolving the Indo-China border dispute shows that the problem lies elsewhere. An overview of the Indo-China relations of the past fifty years shows how the Indians were trapped by the Chinese realist policies. In light of the present changes at the international and regional level, will it be possible for India to revise its China policies?



The Indian policy makers downplay the Tibetan factor in the belief that they can not afford another war or a significant increase in tensions with Beijing . But, the Chinese policies clearly shows that Tibet is central in their strategies and actions aimed at India . Chinese strategic interests in Tibet with regard to India prove this point. One, by making Tibet an integral part of China they can claim Indian territories and settle the border dispute with the help of Tibetan documents. Two, denying Tibet as an autonomous buffer zone for ensuring Indian security along the 3200 km. Himalayan boundary will challenge India ’s regional supremacy in South Asia . The Indian acquiescence to Chinese imperialism led to the tragedy of 1962, the loss of Akasai Chin and the continuing dispute over the border.



Indian policies favoured China on two levels. First, the idealist Indian policy itself helped China to gain a strong basis in its dispute with India . India was the first democratic country to recognize communist China , India legitimized Chinese occupation of Tibet , India sponsored China ’s UN membership and stood by Beijing in all the resolutions that condemned the latter. Second, the realist Chinese policy makers cleverly manipulated Indian policies to support their hegemonic claims. China signed the 1954 Panchsheel agreement to make Tibet China’s internal issue, and get Indian recognition. Chinese also used India ’s anti-imperialist rhetoric to denounce the Mc Mahon Line signed between imperialist British India and Tibet , which defined Indian border claims.



This fifty years of Indian appeasement policy towards China and gained nothing. On the contrary it allowed the Chinese to promote their political and military objective. Now the time has come to revise our China policy and deny its hegemonic claims. In the first place there is a grave need to remove the fear psychosis in the minds of the Indian elite and politicians about the Chinese capacity to demonstrate its military muscle. The Chinese created this fear by maintaining its relationship with New Delhi in a state of uncertainty. The deployment of nuclear weapons in Tibet exacerbated this syndrome. Moreover the present China policy cannot solve our border dispute or gain peace and tranquility in the border areas. Our foreign policy is an official endorsement of the Chinese action in. Revising our China policy is the only way to save and the credibility of our foreign policy.



If Tibet is the core issue for China it is doubly so for India , because it is the heart of the territorial dispute with China . The Chinese military mobilization in Tibet is the most serious problem impinging the Indian security. India cannot defend the boundary it claims except by supporting Tibetan autonomy. The hard reality is that no country will today jeopardize the entire panoply of its relations with China for the sake of Tibet . But, if we consider the new strategic and political realities of the international and regional scene, making Tibet an important factor in our China policy would be and perfectly legitimate.



The credibility of Indian nuclear deterrence is directly linked to its China policy- because the justification for Pokhran II was the Chinese nuclear threat. In that case expressing support for Tibetan autonomy could be a strategically suitable change in China policy. On the international level, if the West, particularly America can send cruise missiles to support the Kosovar separatist, there is nothing to prevent them from helping the Tibetans. India will definitely get the support of the West if it talks about the suppression of human rights and cultural genocide in Tibet . India should not miss this opportunity to gain legitimacy for its realpolitik interests.