Recently Chinese troops threatened Indian workers building a road in Ladakh. They enforced stoppage of work. The Chinese themselves are building air strips for strategic purpose on the border. China curtly dismissed Indian protests. " China has a dispute with India on the border issue. The two sides should work together to ensure peace and stability in the border area until the pending dispute is resolved," China ’s foreign ministry spokesman told media. Defence Minister of State MMP Raju told reporters that China was merely building infrastructure, there was nothing to worry. Home minister Chidambaram advised media that only after studying the Chinese response will “the government take a view”. Can capitulation be more shameless? The questions are: Why is China acting in this manner? Why is China succeeding in having its way? Let us address both questions in that order.
The short answer to the first question is that China acts the way it does because of Tibet . Until it obtains total success in achieving its goal in Tibet it will not relent. Its Tibet policy has served it exceedingly well for six decades. Why should China change it? Tibet is crucial for totalitarian China . The minorities in China are roughly 8 percent of the population. The land mass they occupy is almost one third of China . Tibet and Xingjian are China ’s two largest sparsely populated provinces. China is especially paranoid about retaining Tibet because it forcibly annexed it as recently as 1959. Thereby Tibet ceased to be a buffer between China and India , which is the only Asian state that can potentially balance China . The annexation of an independent Tibet is irrefutably outlined in Claude Arpi’s book, Tibet: The Lost Frontier, which was published last year. Arpi, a Frenchman based in Auroville, is arguably India ’s most effective communicator of the Tibetan cause. He displays the research of a scholar and the insight of a strategist. This year he has written a follow-up book, Dharamsala and Beijing : the negotiations that never were, published by Lancer Publishers. The book is an eye opener. It meticulously describes the entire farcical engagement since inception between Beijing and the Dalai Lama’s aides. It also exposes the pathetic conduct of America and India that witnessed this dialogue.
In 1947 there was no India-China border. There was only the India-Tibet border. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai hoodwinked Pandit Nehru. From then up till now the Chinese brazenly lied, indulged in doubletalk and blandly denied self evident truths. From then up till now India and America lamely accepted such contemptuous treatment. In 1954 India and China signed a treaty for 8 years by which among other things India recognized Tibet to be part of China . Beijing violated the assurances given in that treaty by transgressing the border. A confused Nehru decided to keep Parliament in the dark. He persisted with secrecy about Chinese encroachments during the following years. That was when this reviewer through an article in 1960 demanded Nehru’s resignation. As a junior he made this reasonable demand when media doyens critical of Nehru’s China policies such as S Mulgaokar and Frank Moraes could not bring themselves to state this. No wonder it took a child to blurt that the Emperor wore no clothes! Zhou told Nehru that he was ignorant about the McMahon Line until he studied the border problem. And today China claims Arunachal Pradesh to be part of China !
Beijing and Tibet broke ice. Beijing allowed fact-finding missions from Dharamsala to visit Tibet and view its progress. The Chinese genuinely thought that better roads and infrastructure had made Tibetans happy. The frenzied reception given to the Dalai Lama’s representatives by the Tibetans stunned them. Four succeeding missions were doomed to fail. I think the Chinese fail to empathize with Tibet because Tibetans believe in God. Most Chinese don’t. In 2005 former Defence Minister, Army Chief and Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Chi Haotian, said in a speech: “Maybe you have now come to understand why we … promulgate atheism… if we let all Chinese people listen to God and follow God, who will obediently listen to us and follow us?”
Meanwhile many rounds of border talks between India and China were also held. These talks led nowhere. The door to China was opened in February 1976. Indira Gandhi during the Emergency ignored the Parliamentary resolution forbidding dealing with China until it vacated all illegally occupied territory. She established ambassadorial relations with Beijing . Why did she do this with a country that had betrayed her father and humiliated India ? Was it not simply because by that time through Kissinger’s exertions America had opened up to China ? The puppeteer could make the puppet somersault. On subsequent contacts Vajpayee, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao needlessly kept repeating that Tibet was part of China .
Claude Arpi’s book exposes the painful repetitiveness of all contacts between China and Tibet , between China and the rest of the world. Tibet was like a woodpecker trying to penetrate a block of steel. The Chinese refused to countenance the slightest change in Tibet . In 1988 Dalai Lama made the Strasbourg Proposal and adopted the Middle Way , demanding autonomy instead of independence. Beijing kept calling him a ‘splitter’. China continued to lie and deceive the world to keep talks going. Only once in 60 years did a senior Chinese official speak the truth. In 1980 CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang admitted:”Our party has let the Tibetan people down. We feel very bad!” Very soon he had to eat his words and fall in line. The world kept hoping for China to change. It was a futile hope.
Why have the Chinese succeeded in bringing the rest of the world to its knees? It is because the world is dominated by what I described in 2004 as the Real Axis of Evil comprising corporate America and China . Arpi’s book recalls the closed door dialogues between the Americans and Deng Xiaoping when relations were thawing. The contemptuous references to India was what bonded the two sides. Kissinger was nauseatingly cloying as he sucked up to the Chinese. President Gerald Ford, not the brightest President, intervened in the talks with no impact. Ridiculing him Lyndon Johnson once said: “Ford needs both hands to find his ass!”
The architect of the evil axis on the American side was Henry Kissinger, once described widely as a war criminal but ending up as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. A little after Sino-American trade blossomed following Deng’s reforms, Kissinger Associates Inc. took birth. It was a consultancy that acted as facilitator of deals between China and corporate America . Kissinger became the central adviser for the Business Coalition for US-China Trade which has 1000 of the largest American corporations as its members. Kissinger helped set up China International Investment Corporation (CITIC), the Chinese government's banking merchant for doing business with the US . Kissinger Associates roped in top level former officials including Alexander Haig, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, international economist Alan Stoga, and investment banker T. Jefferson Cunningham III. No wonder fierce public protest blocked Bush from appointing Kissinger to head the 9/11 Commission. Kissinger was forced to back out. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Kissinger: “Kissinger Associates… has not… detailed the work it does. There is the possibility of a conflict of interest?"
Kissinger replied: “No law firm discloses its clients. I will discuss my clients fully with the counsel of the White House…” Kissinger was comfortable with the White House regardless of which administration governed America . For instance, President Obama's trusted Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner worked for three years with Kissinger Associates before occupying his current post. Over the years Kissinger Associates has grown exponentially with a reach in all continents. Among other giants the American International Group (AIG), condemned for squandering millions as executive bonuses, is a strategic partner with Kissinger Associates. Kissinger is reputed to be one of the key benefactors of the stimulus bailout after the recent economic meltdown. Kissinger Associates is the shadowy centrepiece of corporate America and business partner of China . Totalitarian China is opaque for foreigners. But it has free access to democratic nations. It creates strong vested interest in their biggest business firms. In democracies big business influences politics. Ergo, China influences policy in democratic nations. With a five to one adverse balance of trade with China , with trillions of dollars held as US Treasury bills by China , is America in any position to confront Beijing ? Why, the US dare not confront even China ’s proxy, Pakistan !
Claude Arpi at the conclusion of his book expresses hope that China will change. He points to individuals in China who speak the truth about Tibet , such as Phunwang, the Tibetan communist who led Chinese troops into Tibet . Subsequently he spent years in jail because he tried to faithfully follow Marxism. He was released and was invited to administer Tibet . He refused. He knew how that would end. He stayed on in mainland China . There are Chinese intellectuals like Zhang Boshu and Wang Lixiong who speak objectively and constructively about Tibet . One begs to differ with Arpi. China will not change unless it is compelled. Given the Axis of Evil little hope might be placed on America . Only if India summons the will to detach itself from the coattails of Uncle Sam can China be compelled. After 1962 only once did India assert itself against China . In 1986 Chinese troops encroached into Sumdorong Chu in NEFA, now Arunachal Pradesh. Army Chief General Sundarji airlifted an entire brigade in what was called Operation Falcon to counter the Chinese. Deng Xiaoping warned that China would “teach India a lesson”. War seemed imminent. Sundarji was criticized The General stood firm and was prepared to quit. The government buttoned its lip. The Chinese backed down. Today there are effective ways of calling China ’s bluff to enforce its climb down without resort to military action. It is futile to outline them given a government incapable of independent action. Until India summons the will to act independently it must live with a reality that is worse than pathetic. It is tragic.