Thursday, July 2, 2015

Chinese diplomacy is a culinary delight

Chinese 'sailors' on the 'Yongshu' Reef in the South China Sea
My article Chinese diplomacy is a culinary delight appeared today in the Edit Page of The Pioneer.

Here is the link...

Beijing can't afford to have many enemies. When it becomes too ‘hot' on one front, it needs to make friends on another. It is making friends the way that one slowly cooks seafood to make ‘Buddha jump over the wall’

News agency Xinhua recently admitted that the ‘rift’ over the South China Sea between Beijing and Washington has heightened tensions in the region, “but dispute over this body of water is only ‘an episode’ in China-US relations, instead of a flashpoint as portrayed or feared by many”.
The Chinese news agency further commented: “At a time when the futures and fortunes of China and the United States are more closely intertwined than they have ever been, it is imperative for them to always look for the bigger picture, and prevent such solvable tensions evolving into dangerous tinderbox.”
Behind these words, it is clear that Beijing can’t afford to have too many enemies at the same time and when it becomes too ‘hot’ on one front, Beijing needs to make friends on another.
What about the Middle Kingdom’s other foes, namely, individuals or groups opposing the party within China? Beijing is trying to deal with them in a novel way, which might also apply to ‘external unfriendly’ powers.
In your opinion, what could make Buddha jump over a wall? According to a Chinese saying, it is a special stew made of seafood and poultry: It is apparently so yummy that even Buddha would jump over a wall to taste it.
Why is it so tasty? Simply, because the ingredients have slowly simmered for a long, very long time over a low flame. President Xi Jinping recently mentioned the famous dish: “Make friends, the way that one slowly cooks seafood and poultry stew to make ‘Buddha jump over the wall’,” he advised.
He was then speaking about ‘internal friends’ during a United Front Work conference. The UFW Department is a party organ which makes the link between the Chinese Communist Party and non-party organisations, including business people like Mr Jack Ma’s Alibaba, but also Tibetans, Uyghurs or ‘compatriots’ from Taiwan.
During the conference, Mr Xi explained that the UFW aims at making more friends, adding: “However, in order to make this kind of friend, you can’t hurry it as if you are cooking fast food, but rather you should put in the kind of effort as if you are slowly cooking the famous Chinese dish.”
To demonstrate his point, the Chinese President cited the case of former Premier Zhou Enlai and his ‘friendship’ with the 10th Panchen Lama: “On April 27, 1950, when the Panchen Lama arrived in Beijing for the first time: that night he was received by Premier Zhou and invited to dinner. They discussed everything from customs, traditions, and daily life to the victory of the Chinese revolution and the future of Tibet. Premier Zhou’s openness and sincerity deeply influenced the Panchen Lama.”
Mr Xi then compared the Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama: “In 1956, the Indian Government invited the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama to India to participate in celebrations for the 2,500th anniversary of Sakyamuni Buddha achieving nirvana. The Panchen Lama fought against separatist forces and returned home on schedule, in a sharp contrast to the Dalai Lama who delayed his return.”
This example means that ‘friends’ have to obey to the party; the Dalai Lama did not. Before returning to Tibet, the Dalai Lama attended a religious function in Kalimpong and this despite the objections of Zhou Enlai who considered Kalimpong ‘a nest of spies’. The Panchen Lama ‘obeyed’ and immediately returned to Tibet.
Mr Xi’s conclusion is interesting, prospective friends “should be treated with the same effort required to make the dish, with more contacts, more close talks, more assistance and emphasising respect, equality and sincerity”. But like the Panchen Lama, they should listen to the party.
China’s ‘external’ neighbours too should ‘listen’ to Beijing, for the purpose, they may need to be ‘cooked’ over a long time. In recent months, China has been extremely aggressive in the South China Sea, extending her territorial waters by nearly 1,000 kilometers.
Beijing pretended to be furious when Washington sent a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft to monitor China’s deployments in the region; land-reclamation however relentlessly continued.
Attack being the best defence, Liang Fang, a professor at China’s National Defence University, violently accused the US ‘of launching its Asia’s repivot’ in The Global Times and “blockade China and unite with its allies Japan and the Philippines against China”, though he said that “China’s land reclamation efforts on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea will reduce the US’s projection power in the region.” He also added: “This makes the South China Sea a major strategic hotspot, which will decide the new world order.”
In other words, China is fighting a battle to dominate its close neighbours and stop the US from any interference in these designs.
In the meantime, sina.com published a sideshow with pictures taken on one of the reefs in the South China Sea. It shows good-looking female sailors (most probably models) posing on ocean breakwalls, while watering vegetable gardens, with pigs in a pen in the background. The title is “Gratifying results on China’s Yongshu Reef: Building vegetable greenhouses and growing fruit trees.”
It means that China had already succeeded in establishing its presence far away from its coastal areas; now, the next stage: To make friends, starts. General Fan Changlong, the powerful vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, visited Washington for the purpose and after a meeting with the US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, he declared: “The two nations should take the higher ground to look into the far future by paying more attention to other, more important regional and international issues.”
As Xinhua nicely put it, the relationship between Beijing and Washington has matured; the news agency spoke of “a new type of major-country relations, which features mutual benefits and a win-win cooperation.” Obviously, as the Chinese girls/models show, Beijing’s work on the reefs is over.
While taking on the US in the South China Sea, Beijing has been ‘cooking’ Tokyo. Reuters reported that in July, Japan and China “will conclude an agreement to define procedures for communication between their naval vessels and military aircraft during unexpected encounters to reduce the risk of confrontation.” One way to make friends without renouncing any claims!
What about India? Here too, Beijing wants to gain time. While turning down Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal to exchange maps of the Line of Actual Control, a move which seemed most reasonable, Beijing has started speaking of a new sauce, ie comprehensive measures. Mr Huang Xilian, an official in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs told a group of Indian journalists in Beijing: “We have to seek some kind of comprehensive measures, not only one measure to control and manage the border to ensure peace and tranquility along the border.”
But does it make sense to be cooked into becoming China’s ‘friend’, when LAC maps can’t even be exchanged?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nathu La to Kailash – Trip down the memory lane

Nehru in front of the Indian Trade Agency in Yatung (1958)
My article Nathu La to Kailash – Trip down the memory lane is posted on NitiCentral

Here is the link...

Once upon a time, not far from Nathu-la, the pass situated at 4,310 metres above sea level between Sikkim and Tibet, India had a stunning Trade Agency in Yatung in Tibet. This came back to mind when I saw some photos of the launch of the second pilgrims’ route to Mount Kailash.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India in September 2014, he agreed to open this ‘easier’ route. The present route, via Lipulekh Pass in Pithoragarh’s district of Uttarakhand (and Purang in Tibet), is dangerous and often badly damaged by landslides.
Prime Minister Modi was keen to have an alternate route; Xi Jinping offered the Sikkim one, though it is a much longer route compared to Shipki-la in Himachal or Demchok in Ladakh, which had been requested by India.
Anyhow, the deal was signed and the details worked out when PM Modi went to China in May.
As the first pilgrims crossed over to Tibet earlier this week, PTI reported: “The pilgrims belonging to different age-groups and hailing from various parts of India made their way to the Nathu-la pass, acclimatizing themselves for the high-altitude journey to Kailash which stands at an altitude of about 6,500 metres in Tibet.”
The first batch of 250 people has been allowed to take part in the yatra, via the new route. The pilgrims, many middle-aged or retired citizens all were delighted; they had been looking for such an opportunity for years.
The Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng was present for the occasion. With the Councillor in the Indian Embassy in Beijing, Shrila Dutta Kumar and some Chinese officials from Tibet, he welcomed the pilgrims.
Le Yucheng said: “Instead of travelling through rough terrain facing high risks, you can reach the sacred place in bus while enjoying the heavenly beauty along the way. I am sure the Indian friends can feel the warm hospitality and profound friendship of Chinese people,” adding that the Indian pilgrims will not only gain spiritual strength but also develop better understanding of China. One could of course ask: and what about Tibet, Mr. Le?
Soon after they crossed the pass, the yatris descended in the luxuriant Chumbi valley; for centuries, countless Tibetan traders, lamas, pilgrims and officials used this route on their way to the hot plains of India. The first large town crossed by the yatris was Yatung.
The Chinese vehicles must have sped up, to not bring old memories back; less than 60 years ago, most of the shops in Yatung were run by Indian traders. In 1958, Jawaharlal Nehru visited the place on his way to Bhutan.
Apparently, the building belonging to the Government of India has been destroyed by China. When? Nobody is able to tell me.
In the 1960s already, the Chinese were keen to erase the trace of the Indian presence in the Chumbi Valley and Yatung.
On October 31, 1962, the Ministry of External Affairs sent a memorandum to the Embassy of China in Delhi, it states: “The building of the Indian Trade Agency at Yatung has been the property of the Government of India for several decades. When the Trade Agency was withdrawn in 1962, the Chinese Embassy had been clearly informed of the Government of India’s intention to retain their property and buildings at Yatung under the charge of the Indian Consul General at Lhasa.”
New Delhi intended to use the heritage building as a resting place for Indian officials proceeding to Lhasa or returning to India: “The Indian Government’s request is fully in keeping with international custom and practice,” said the memorandum.
In June 1962, the Chinese Government had agreed that the buildings could remain under the charge of the Indian mission in Lhasa and be used as a rest house.
A few months later, when Chinese miscreants destroyed some parts of the heritage building, the Chinese put the blame on Arvind Deo, the Indian Consul General in Lhasa, who had passed through Yatung on his way to India.
On December 29, Beijing informed the Indian Embassy in China: “According to reports from China’s Tibet local authorities, when the former Indian Consul-General in Lhasa AR Deo and his staff withdrew from Lhasa and were passing through Yatung, they seriously damaged property within the premises of the former Indian Trade Agency in Yatung in the afternoon of December 15, 1962. …they demolished several motor-cars, broke up a diesel generator, cut open several dozen barrels of gasoline, diesel oil and machine grease with hatchets, broke down doors and windows, etc.”
One can hardly see the mild diplomat ‘smashing’ a building belonging to his own government.
South Block immediately denied any wrong doing from its personnel, and stated the facts: ‘miscreants’ paid by China attacked the beautiful building: “Even in July 1962, it had come to the notice of the former Indian Consul General at Lhasa that the former Trade Agency buildings at Yatung had been forced open, glass panes on the doors and windows broken and all the valuable properties removed.”
This was several months before the Sino-Indian War.
The attack against the Agency was also reported by the Indian Consul General in Lhasa to the Chinese ‘local’ authorities in Tibet, particularly an officer called Hang, the Vice-Director of the Foreign Bureau. Hang told the Arvind Deo that the local authorities in Yatung were neither responsible for the safety of the Indian properties in Yatung nor were they interested in what happened.
On March 11, 1963, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing sent another memorandum to the Indian Embassy again accused the Indian diplomats: “On December 15, when they stopped at Yatung on their way back to India, the Indian officials …destroyed with axes, steels rods and other things the auto-vehicles, electric-generators and scores of drums of gasoline and diesel oil kept in the courtyard of the then Indian Trade Agency, glass panes of the doors and windows…”
The Indian ministry immediately denounced the Chinese Government for the slanderous attack on the Indian officials “…with the sole idea of deceiving others.”
Today, the fact remains that the building of the Indian Trade Agency in Yatung has ‘disappeared’. Mr. Le Yucheng should be asked to explain what has happened to this property of the Indian government in Tibet; it would be useful to have a rest house in Tibet for the yatris on their way to Mount Kailash.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The curious case of Zhang’s visit

My article The curious case of Zhang’s visit appeared yesterday in The Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle
Here is the link..

Has not India missed a chance to convey that everything is not rosy in the bilateral relations? Why was the MEA nowhere to be seen? Why did India lose such an opportunity to convey to this powerful Chinese politician, its position on several vexed issues?


The Indian media is a strange creature. It spends its time and energy on obsessions; every few days, it focuses on a new one while wearing blinkers for everything else. But even when it ignores “important” news, nobody seems too much disturbed, as long as there is a good cricket ingredient and some spicy masala.
Imagine my surprise as a China watcher when, one morning earlier this week, I found in my mailbox a communique of the Public Information Bureau announcing that an all-powerful member of the standing committee politburo of the central committee of the Communist Party of China had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the previous day.
Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s legislature, had called on Mr Modi, said the PIB.
Mr Zhang is not an ordinary Chinese; he is third most powerful person in the Middle Kingdom; he is one of the seven “emperors” ruling a country which everyone fears (though few will say it openly).
This powerful personage was in Delhi (and later in Mumbai) and nobody seems to have known about it. Was Mr Zhang not as important as LaMoGate? Probably!
Remember when Middle Kingdom No. 2, Premier Li Keqiang, came to Delhi in May 2013. The press went wild for several weeks before. It is true, some People’s Liberation Army’s jawans had come uninvited and were camping in the desolate Depsang plains of Ladakh; this was really irritating.
Then, in 2014, “Emperor No. 1” came. When Xi Jinping landed at Ahmedabad in September, Mr Modi was determined to give him a genuine taste of “Modi Land”. This time again, the masala came from the remote Chumur area of South Ladakh where 1,500 PLA men crossed the “undefined” Line of Actual Control; they were ready to set up camp when India decided to send 2,000 Indian jawans to push them away. Media coverage lasted for weeks.
This time Communist boss No. 3 came and went and noticed?
Hardly anybody!
Even the ministry of external affairs was silent. Its spokespersons are usually known to be amongst the quickest twitterers in India, but this time not a single tweet.
On June 15, the Prime Minister’s Office merely reported, via the PIB, that Mr Zhang called on him on that day. The visit was termed a “parliamentary exchange”.
The PIB communique did not tell us what was really discussed. A new proposal for the LAC in Ladakh? An alternative to the stapled visas for the people of Arunachal or Kashmiris? The “peaceful” spread of the PLA Navy on the oceans of the planet? The new route for the Kailash yatra, flagged off by the foreign minister herself? We will have to wait at least 50 years to read the declassified files.
Mr Zhang just endorsed the Prime Minister’s views that the 21st century is the Asian century and the future of the continent will depend on what India and China achieve individually and jointly.
Apart from the usual bilateral collaboration, the leaders expressed their appreciation for the new interest for the ancient cultural and “spiritual” ties between India and China, citing the joint yoga-tai-chi demonstration witnessed by Mr Modi and Premier Li in Beijing.
Why waste such a high-level visit for such banalities?
I got to know what had happened while scanning the Chinese press. Mr Zhang’s visit lasted four days. It was a “friendly” visit at the invitation of the vice-president and the Lok Sabha’s Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan. It was the first trip in India of an NPC’s chairman in 14 years.
Xinhua reported that Mr Zhang met with vice-president Ansari. They called for strengthening cooperation between legislative bodies of China and India.
During his meetings with the chairpersons of the Indian Houses, Mr Zhang said that he wanted to “upgrade the level and improve the quality of the current cooperation between the legislative bodies of the two countries.” He suggested that the two sides should carry out closer exchanges.
Mr Zhang also met President Pranab Mukherjee to whom he conveyed the cordial greeting of President Xi. He told the Indian President that India and China are not only the two biggest developing countries, but also the two most dynamic market economies in the world. He added: “The two countries should join hands to realise goals for peaceful development, cooperative development and inclusive development, to benefit the 2.5 billion people of the two countries.”
In other words, the usual stuff, but it is always good when it is reiterated at the highest level.
Mr Mukherjee told him that India always lays great importance to developing good, friendly, neighbourly relations with China.
Later, Mr Zhang went to Mumbai where he met the governor and the chief minister.
Has not India missed a chance to convey that everything is not rosy in the bilateral relations, especially on the border issue?
Why was the MEA nowhere to be seen? Even the South Block twitters had fallen silent? Why did India lose such an opportunity to convey to this powerful Chinese politician, its position on several vexed issues?
As for the media, could it not have dropped the cricket scams for a day and covered the visit, asking the right questions?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Second 'Tibetan' Tiger caught in Wang's Net

Le Dake at the Centre
Yesterday Reuters reported that a former top Chinese security official in Tibet was being investigated ‘for suspected graft’.
It was announced a day earlier by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog, headed by Wang Qishan.
Reuters says that it is “a rare example of corruption busters going into the restive and remote region.”


The case of General Yang Jinshan
It might be rare, but it is not the only case, as many agencies later reported.
Last year in October, I wrote on this blog: “It is the end of the road for Lt. Gen. Lt. Yang Jinshan, a former Commander of the Tibet Military District of the Chengdu Military Region (MR). He lost his membership of the Central Committee of the CCP.”
Lt. Gen. Yang Jinshan (Han nationality), born in August 1954, joined the Communist Party of China in May 1972. In December 2005, he was promoted to the rank of major general and in July 2011, he became a lieutenant general. From 2007 to 2009, he served as the Head of Armament Department of Chengdu Military Region (MR). In 2009, he became Commander of Tibet Military District. In November 2012, he was elected as Member of 18th CPC's powerful Central Committee.
Lt. General Yang Jinshan had an Air Force background; this may explain the repeated 'air exercises' in the Tibet District, facing Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim during the last few years.
In June 2013, General Yang was transferred (on promotion) to Chengdu as a Deputy Commander of the Chengdu MR. In October 20154, he was formally expelled from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China 'for serious disciplinary violations'.
Lt. Gen. Yang, as one of 41 members of the PLA in the Central Committee, was 'senior' in the Party to his direct boss, Lt. Gen. Li Zuocheng, the Commander of Chengdu MR.
In July 2014, The South China Morning Post (SCMP) had reported "One of the top PLA officers leading the Chengdu military area command has been detained amid graft allegations making him the latest high-ranking officer to fall in a sweeping effort to clean up the image of the world's largest fighting force." The Hong Kong newspaper quoting four different sources said: "Investigators took Yang Jinshan, a lieutenant general, to Beijing last week as part of a corruption investigation. His family members and secretary were also detained."
The arrest of General Yang was part of the wider inquiry into Xu Caihou, the former Central Military Commission (CMC) vice-chairman.
Xu had been accused of accepting very large bribes. In June 2014, Xu was himself expelled from the Communist Party. A few months later, Yang walked into his mentor's steps.
Further, Yang was probably connected with the disgraced Politburo leader, Bo Xilai, as Yang served in the 14th Group Army, based in Kunming, Yunnan province (under the Chengdu MR). One of the founders of the Group Army was Bo Yibo, Bo Xilai's father.
The SCMP suspects: "Bo Xilai visited Yunnan not long after his right-hand man Wang Lijun sought refuge in the US consulate in Chengdu in February 2012. Since that visit, some of the senior officers of the corps have been replaced, prompting speculation about whether the reshuffle was linked to Bo."
We have not heard of Yang Jinshan since then.

The case of Le Dake

Dr. Le Dake is born in Dongxiang County, Jiangxi in March 1960 (age 55). He was the Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s People's Congress till his arrest. He has been serving in this post from January 2013 to June 25, 2015.
In December 1976, Le Dake worked as a ‘sent-down youth’ in a Red Star Farm. Later, he attended to Jiangxi University in 1983 and graduated in 1986 (he apparently earned a PhD).
Dr. Le Dake started his career in the 1980s in the Public Security Bureau (police), in Jiangxi Province; later, he switched to State Security (external intelligence) work in 1994.
In 2004, he was posted in Tibet where, as director of TAR’s Regional National Security Department, he was responsible of collecting ‘hostile foreign intelligence’. His name was rarely appeared in the press.
Earlier, the Intelligence boss would remain in the shadow, but after 2013, Le Dake became openly an active member of the TAR Legislature’s Standing Committee.
In 2008, after the unrest in Tibet and just before the Olympic Games in Beijing, President Hu Jintao set up an emergency military-security cell for watching Tibet. The objective of the unit was to ‘save’ the Olympic Games in Beijing from hostile Western attacks.
The website, Intelligence Online then said that the group consisted of “the heads of the security and intelligence agencies, leading military men, newly-appointed politicians and members of Hu’s clan, with the exception of Zhou Yongkang: number three man in the party and supervisor of the security services.”
Why Zhou, since then himself ‘investigated’, was not part of it, is a mystery.
The website adds that in Lhasa, Hu depended on the State Security set up “to provide information on the role of the United States in the crisis.”
A French journalist Roger Faligot in his book “Les Services Secret Chinoise de Mao aux JO (Chinese Secret Service from Mao to Olympic Games), had revealed that Le Dake had “infiltrated agents into India where the Dalai Lama lives in exile, and has sought to isolate him politically.”
It is very difficult to corroborate this information and even to say if the arrest of Le Dake is linked with his ‘work’ in Tibet or simply is connected with corruption.
Another possibility is that Xi Jinping has decided to change the cook for his new stew, 'Buddha jumping the Wall'? The future will tell us if the stew is tastier or not.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Will Buddha jump over the wall?

Do you know what could make Buddha jump over a wall?
According to a Chinese saying, it is a special stew made of seafood and poultry.
It is apparently so yummy that even Buddha (or at least Chinese monks) would jump over a wall to taste it.
It might not be true for Tibetan monks, as this dish originates from Fujian Province; their taste may be different. Anyway, one of the characteristics of the preparation is that all the ingredients have to slowly simmer for a long long time over a low flame.
It is said the former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and many others tasted the delicacy, while in China.
President Xi Jinping recently mentioned the famous dish: “make friends, the way that one slowly cook seafood and poultry stew to make ‘Buddha or monks jump over the wall’.”
The story was used by Xi during the United Front Work (UFW) Conference, during which Xi explained that the United Work “aims to make more friends, especially some close friends who are able to speak their minds.”
According to the Chinese media, Xi would have added: “However, in order to make this kind of friend, you can’t hurry it as if you are cooking fast food, but rather you should put in the kind of effort as if you are slowly cooking the famous Chinese dish made of lots of seafood and poultry.”
To demonstrate his point, the Chinese President cited the case of former Premier Zhou Enlai with the 10th Panchen Lama Chökyi Gyaltsen.
Xi told the UFW Conference that when, on April 27, 1950, the Panchen Lama arrived in Beijing for the first time: “that night he was received by Premier Zhou and invited to dinner. They discussed everything from customs, traditions, and daily life to the victory of the Chinese revolution and the future of Tibet; from the accommodations and itinerary to the importance of national unity. Premier Zhou’s openness and sincerity deeply influenced the Panchen Lama.”
Let us not forget that the young Panchen Lama who had just been selected by the Communist Party as the true incarnation of the 9th Panchen Lama, (while the Lhasa candidate was rejected by Mao), was only 12 years old.
Xi continued his story: “In 1952, the Panchen Lama returned to Lhasa to meet with the Dalai Lama. He remembered the instructions of Premier Zhou, to unite with the Dalai Lama and submit to the current situation.”
By that time, the Tibetan government had had to sign on the dotted and had 'accepted' that Chökyi Gyaltsen was the true incarnation of the 9th Panchen Lama.
Then, Xi Jinping compared the Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama: “In 1956, the Indian government invited the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama to India to participate in celebrations for the 2,500th anniversary of Sakyamuni Buddha achieving nirvana. The Panchen Lama fought against separatist forces and returned home on schedule, in a sharp contrast to the Dalai Lama who delayed his return.”
Historically, it is not fully  correct. Before returning to Tibet, the Dalai Lama had to visit Kalimpong (against Zhou Enlai’s advice) to meet devotees, at that time the Panchen Lama decided to immediately return to Tibet. It can’t be called a ‘delay’; it was just part of the Tibetan leader’s program.
Xi continued his argument: “During the ‘Cultural Revolution’, the Panchen Lama was severely denounced, and his situation was critical. After Premier Zhou learned of this, he quickly arranged for him to be protected by the military.”
Xi forgets an important detail: the 70,000 character petition (‘A Poisoned Arrow’, according to Mao) which cost the Panchen Lama 14 years in jail in the most horrendous conditions.
Where was Zhou Enlai then?
Xi knows perfectly well this episode, as his father Xi Zhongxun was ‘purged’ two months after the Panchen Lama. Read my post on the subject.
Xi nonetheless affirmed: “Premier Zhou and the 10th Panchen Lama formed a great friendship over a long period of time and numerous trials, despite their difference in age.”
Xi’s conclusions are however interesting, he argued that the structure of the United Front has undergone great changes, and the concept of social thought is becoming more diverse. He mentioned two issues which have come up for United Front Work: “One is not paying attention to ideological guidance and not being concerned with ideological activities of people outside the Party. The other is a phenomenon of being arrogant, purely bureaucratic, and rigid.”
Xi Jinping believes that non-Party people should be treated with the same effort required to make the dish with more contacts, more close talks, more assistance and emphasizing respect, equality and sincerity.
Will it make Tibetans, in particular Buddhist monks, ‘Jump over the Wall’? Only future will tell.

I am posting here some excerpts of From The Heart of the Panchen Lama (Major Speeches and a petition: 1962–1989), published by the Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala.
The Panchen Lama made this statement in 1987 at the TAR Standing Committee Meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. During his lengthy speech, the Panchen Lama refers several times to the 70,000 character petition to Zhou.
If he was listening from his from his Marxist Paradise, Zhou Enlai must have turned in his grave.

On the annexation of Tibet
In the Seventeen-Point Agreement [in May 1951], it was emphatically stated that there would be no change in the power of the Tibetan local government until the introduction of democratic reforms. The same promise was made to the Tashilhunpo monastic authorities. However, what happened later could be summed up by this dictum: ―Criticizing the old system from the perspective of a new ideology.
This kind of practice is not very ethical. A scientist must arrive at his decision according to whatever is proved right scientifically. Tibetan aristocrats had served the government for generations. They were deeply devoted to the Dalai Lama and turned to him for refuge both in this and the next life. In the same way, the masses have deep respect and devotion. This is an undeniable fact. Later on, however, the aristocrats were accused of being the leaders of the rebellions and persecuted. This, I think, was an absolutely wrong thing to do. Of course, I was criticized and punished for this. But truth is timeless. It always remains the same. Undoubtedly, there were mistakes in my petition. But I have never been wrong in speaking up. The mistakes in the content of my petition are mistakes, both today and in the past. But there should be a clear dividing line, spelling out where I went wrong and where I was right.
Talking about Lhoka, first the Khampa guerrillas were based there. But when the Dalai Lama passed through there, people happily donated butter, barley flour and other provisions without being asked for them. This was, of course, a spontaneous gesture of love by the people. Later on the people who offered these things were treated as active members of the resistance. How can you do such a thing? This is something that everyone should know. Speaking of myself, in those days whenever I passed by, people would show love and devotion to me. Now should this be construed as a politically motivated act? Amongst other things, they showed respect to me because they were religious-minded and it is a Tibetan custom. Due care and consideration must be shown to customs and traditions that are special to Tibet.
Quelling the rebellions and introducing reforms was right in principle. But there was a strong leftist tinge to the way this was done. Such things should not happen again and they must be rectified. During the last three decades of communist rule there have been many good things done and many bad things also. There were considered in the Sixth Meeting of the Eleventh National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and were publicized internationally.
Owning up to our mistakes will not damage the Party’s image; rather it will help build it.
Speaking about the former comrades in the Tibet Military Command Centre and the Chengdu Military Command Centre, some comrades told me that they should not have done what they did. This is a healthy attitude. We frequently say that great achievements were made with your sweat in the liberation and reformation of Tibet and that the people of Tibet will never forget this. This is an honest statement. However, you did make a great deal of mistakes, and these also in Tibet. These too, we will never forget. What I am saying is for the purpose of rectifying these mistakes. If we can do this, we can make progress. I am saying this with the best of intentions.
I will tell you a more personal story at this point. The Government of the Kashag spearheaded the rebellion [in March 1959]. Those of us at the labrangs (lama households) were not party to any agitation. In the beginning, we were told great things about peaceful reforms and policies of fraternal relations. However, when the reforms were undertaken, people belonging to our establishments were subjected to untold suffering. This filled people with disgust and disbelief. Most of the members of the local Tibetan government fled from Tibet. A handful, who stayed back, were praised and appointed to government jobs as shining examples of a progressive element. Our people who stayed back in solidarity with China were subjected to unthinkable suffering. Being in Lhasa, as I was at that time, I did not suffer so much. But all my family members were subjected to thamzing (public struggle sessions).
There was one woman, a wife of one of my staff, who was also arrested. One day, when she was called into the interrogation chamber, she muttered, ―This man called Panchen had caused me so much suffering that I will die from depression. This utterance led the authorities into believing that she would say something incriminating about me, a much-awaited chance for the authorities to take punitive measures against me. They immediately called the scribes to record her testimony. Then she went on, ―We made a big mistake by following this man called Panchen and not participating in the fight against the Chinese. If he had led us in rebellion against the Chinese, our condition today would be better than this. Because, initially, we would have killed as many Chinese as possible and then fled to India, which would have been easy since India is near our village. But this man told us to be progressive and patriotic. And this is what we get for following his advice. Now it is not possible for us to flee to India. Our people, both men and women, are being persecuted here. We are experiencing hell on earth.
If there was a film made on all the atrocities perpetrated in Qinghai province, it would shock the viewers. In Golok area, many people were killed and their dead bodies rolled down the hill into a big ditch. The soldiers told the family members and relatives of the dead people that they should all celebrate since the rebels had been wiped out. They were even forced to dance on the dead bodies. Soon after, the family members and relatives were also machine-gunned. They were all buried there.
Actually, rebellions did not occur in all these areas. In Kham, of course, there were rebellions in many places. In Jharoong Parpo and Mili, both in Amdo, the nomads collected their guns and handed them over to the Chinese authorities. They were praised and garlanded during a special function. After the function they were driven to their villages where they were immediately arrested and imprisoned for a long time. There were some very old people among them.
In Amdo and Kham, people were subjected to unspeakable atrocities. They were shot in groups of ten or twenty. I know that it is not good to speak about these things. But such actions have left deep wounds in the minds of people. There are some officials who always leave behind a bad legacy. What is the purpose of doing this? The guilty must, of course, be punished. But what is the use of leaving behind a bad legacy. People who persist in doing this are really stupid. But there are some who consider these people very wise and capable. Comrade Wu Jinhua has a plan to investigate the methods and mistakes made by some of the officials in putting down the Tibetan rebellion. I feel this investigation needs to be done with the utmost diligence.
Mao Zedong said clearly in his speech that he would not only kill the senior Jiang Jieshi, but also the junior ones. Although, I, the senior Panchen, managed to survive, many junior Panchens were killed and tortured in prisons.
In Qinghai, for example, there are between one to three or four thousand villages and towns, each having between three to four thousand families with four to five thousand people. From each town and village, about eight hundred to one thousand people were imprisoned. Out of this, at least three to four hundred people died in prison. This means almost half of the prison population perished. Last year, we discovered that only a handful of people had participated in the rebellion. Most of these people were completely innocent.
In my 70,000-character petition, I mentioned that about five percent of the population had been imprisoned. According to my information at that time, it was between ten to fifteen percent. But I did not have the courage to state such a high figure. I would have died under thamzing if I had stated the real figure. These are serious matters as far as Tibet is concerned. If we pay only lip service to these kinds of mistakes and do nothing to redress them there will be equally serious consequences. People may not like what I am saying. But I am saying this out of my love for the motherland.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Where has the Yatung Agency gone?

Where is the Agency?
The opening of the second route to the Kailash via Nathu-la, 4,310 metres above sea level in Sikkim, was agreed when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India in September 2014.
The other route, via Lipulekh Pass in Pithoragarh’s district of Uttarakhand (and Purang in Tibet), is often badly damaged in rains and lanping offered Nathu-la.
As the first pilgrims were yesterday crossing over to Tibet, PTI reported: “The pilgrims belonging to different age-groups and hailing from various parts of India made their way to the Nathu-la pass after a two week-long journey acclimatising themselves for the high-altitude journey to Kailash which stands at an altitude of about 6,500 metres in Tibet.”
A first batch of 250 people was allowed to take part in this year yatra, via the new route.
According to PTI: “The pilgrims, several of whom were middle-aged and retired, said they have been looking for this kind of an opportunity since long. They said it was good fortune to undertake the Yatra through a comfortable route and went on to thank the Chinese authorities for facilitating the new route. The route through Nathu-la Pass will facilitate comfortable travel for Indian pilgrims by buses, especially for elderly Indian citizens, though conditions in the Himalayan region with less oxygen levels still pose a challenge.”
The Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng was present for the occasion. With the Councilor in the Indian Embassy in Beijing, Shrila Dutta Kumar and some Chinese officials from Tibet, they welcomed the pilgrims.
Le Yucheng said: “Instead of travelling through rough terrain facing high risks, you can reach the sacred place in bus while enjoying the heavenly beauty along the way. I am sure the Indian friends can feel the warm hospitality and profound friendship of Chinese people," adding that the Indian pilgrims will not only will gain spiritual strength but also develop better understanding of China.
What about Tibet, Mr. Le?
PTI adds: “The Yadong [Chinese spelling for Yatung] county in Tibet where Nathu La pass was located on Chinese side is decorated with banners to welcome the pilgrims.”
Nehru and Indira Gandhi
with General Tan Guansan in 1958 in Yatung
Soon after they crossed the pass, the yatris descended in the luxuriant Chumbi valley; for centuries, countless of Tibetan traders, pilgrims and officials used this route on their way to the hot plains of India.
The first large town that the yatris crossed was Yatung.
The Chinese vehicles must have speeded up, not to bring memories of the past; less than 60 years ago, tens of shops in Yatung, were still run by Indian traders.
A year ago, I posted on the blog, a vivid description of the place given by the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru when he visited Tibet on his way to Bhutan in 1958.
How many of the yatris knew about Yatung, one of the most flourishing Indian Trade Agencies in Tibet?
Probably none.
It is a tragedy in itself.
India had a beautiful Agency building where the Prime Minister spent 2 nights in 1958.
What has happened to the building?
Has Tarun Vijay, Rajya Sabha MP and leader of the first batch of yatris asked his Chinese guests? I don’t know.
What about Ashok Kantha, the Indian Ambassador in Beijing, who surveyed the area a few months ago. Here too, I don’t know.
For the past 2 years, I have asked several persons familiar with Sikkim, what has happened with the Agency building, located just above the main bazaar (now the town), nobody knows.
Apparently, the beautiful building belonging to the Government of India has been destroyed by China. When? Nobody seems to know.
I am posting here some of the correspondence between India and China on the last days of the Agency.
China is doing no favour to India by opening this extremely long route (compared to Shipki-la in Himachal or Demchok in Ladakh), so, at least China should say what has happened to the Indian Agency in Yatung.
Nehru meets the Indian traders in Yatung bazaar in 1958
Who will ask them?

Memorandum given by the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, to the Embassy of China in India, 31 October 1962
Reference Memorandum, dated 8th October, 1962 from the Government of the People's Republic of China.
The building of the Indian Trade Agency at Yatung has been the property of the Government of India for several decades. When the Trade Agency was withdrawn in 1962, the Chinese Embassy had been clearly informed of the Government of India's intention to retain their property and buildings at Yatung under the charge of the Indian Consul General at Lhasa. It was also stated by the Government of India that the building would be used as a resting place for Indian officials proceeding to and returning from Lhasa in the course of the performance of their official duties. The Indian Government's request was fully in keeping with international custom and practice.
The Chinese Government had informed the Indian Embassy in Peking on the 2nd June 1962 that they were agreeable to the retention of the buildings by the Government of India under the charge of the Consulate General in Lhasa. However, by later on denying permission to use the building, the Chinese Government has effectively gone back on its earlier assurance as the right to the use of property is an essential and fundamental right that arises from ownership.
In accordance with the stipulation of the Government of the People's Republic of China, the Government of India even did not keep any Indian nationals as maintenance staff but instead retained 5 Tibetan ex-employees of the Indian Trade Agency at Yatung. The Government of India were, therefore, naturally surprised when these employees, too, were turned out of the building later on by the local authorities. The Agency premises and the buildings are now not being looked after by any one. It is understood that the locks of some of the quarters have been removed and some window panes have also been broken.
The Agency building has belonged to the Government of India for several decades and in paragraph (4) of the notes exchanged between the two Governments on 29th April, 1954, it has been clearly stated that all buildings within the compound wall of the Indian Trade Agency at Yatung may be retained by the Government of India. It has also been stated that the Government of India may continue to lease the land within the agency building from the Chinese side. This clearly shows that the land within the compound wall on which the building stands was already on lease with the Government of India several years prior to the conclusion of the 1954 Agreement.
It was only at the unreasonable and arbitrary insistence of the Chinese Government that a fresh lease deed for the land was signed between the two Governments on the 18th of January, 1958, for a period of 10 years, although such a procedure was uncalled for in, terms of the Agreement.
The Chinese Government's unwarranted denial of facilities to the Government of India for taking care of their property and building at Yatung and their plea that if Indian officials and couriers are permitted to use these buildings as a resting place it would be tantamount to the setting up of another official establishment on the Chinese soil constitute further testimony of the uncooperative and obstructive attitude that has all along characterised the actions of the Chinese Government in Tibet.
The Government of India hold the Government of the People's Republic of China responsible for any loss or damage that has already been caused, or may be caused in future, to the Agency building as a result of these unwarranted actions of the Chinese Government.

A few months later, when Chinese miscreants destroyed some parts of the Agency, the Chinese put the blame on Arvind Deo, the Indian Consul General in Lhasa, who had passed through Yatung on his way to India.

Memorandum given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Peking, to the Embassy of India in China, 29 December 1962.

According to reports from China's Tibet local authorities, when the former Indian Consul-General in Lhasa A.R. Deo and his staff withdrew from Lhasa and were passing through Yatung, they seriously damaged property within the premises of the former Indian Trade Agency in Yatung in the afternoon of December 15, 1962. For instance, they demolished several motor-cars, broke up a diesel generator, cut open several dozen barrels of gasoline, diesel oil and machine grease with hatchets, broke down doors and windows, etc.
On the eve of their withdrawal from Lhasa, the staff of the Indian Consulate-General there also smashed the glass on the doors and windows of the Consulate-General building in Lhasa.
It must be pointed out that the above-mentioned acts of the staff of the Indian Consulate-General not only constituted a breach of the local public order, but obviously harboured an ulterior motive, that is, to shift the blame on the Chinese side. The Chinese Government sternly condemns these despicable acts of the former Indian Consulate-General and its staff and reserves the right to look into this matter further.


Memorandum given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Peking to the Embassy of India in China, 11 March 1963

The Chinese Government has received the memorandum of the Ministry of External Affairs of India dated February 8, 1963 to the Chinese Embassy in India.
It is an indisputable fact that while withdrawing from Lhasa the former Indian Consul-General in Lhasa and other places. On the night before their departure from Lhasa, the Indian officials gathered in the Consulate-General and indulged in drinking. Some of them, fully drunk, broke the glass of the doors and windows of the Consulate-General with frying-pans and sticks. On December 15, when they stopped at Yatung on their way back to India, the Indian officials did more damage. They destroyed with axes, steels rods and other things the auto-vehicles, electric-generators and scores of drums of gasoline and diesel oil kept in the courtyard of the then Indian Trade Agency, glass panes of the doors and windows, etc.
All these are hard facts that cannot be denied, and the eye-witnesses; and evidence are all there. No quibbling denials made by the Indian Government in order to help them shirk the responsibility will be of avail. The attempt made in the Indian memorandum to describe what they had done as something perpetrated "with the connivance of the Chinese local authorities" is sheer fabrication. If the said damage 'had not been done by the Indian officials themselves, and if the allegation made in the Indian memorandum that the former Indian Consul-General found glass panes of the doors and windows of the former Indian Trade Agency in Yatung broken and all valuable property there removed when he arrived there were true, certainly he would not have failed to take up the matter with the Chinese local authorities; and he should have taken up the matter with the Chinese local authorities so as to ascertain what had really happened and find out who must be held responsible. But he did not dare to do so. And the Indian Government remained silent about this matter. This is ample proof that the Indian side had a guilty conscience. It was only after the Chinese Government delivered to the Indian Embassy in China a memorandum explaining the truth of the matter that the Indian Government unscrupulously made the false counter-charge against the Chinese local authorities. This unseemly action can deceive no one. The Chinese Government firmly rejects the Indian Government's preposterous claim that Chinese local authorities in Lhasa and Yatung should be held responsible for the damage done by the Indian officials to the property under their care, and reiterates that it reserves the right to h further action in this case.

Memorandum given by the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi to the Embassy of China in India, 1 April 1963

Reference Chinese Government's Memorandum dated 11th March 1963 delivered to the Embassy of India in Peking.
The Government of India in their Memorandum of 8th February, 1963 had already given full facts regarding the vandalism on the buildings of the former Indian Trade Agency at Yatung caused by unauthorised persons with the connivance of the local authorities.
There is no need to reiterate the same.
Even in July 1962, it had come to the notice of the former Indian Consul General at Lhasa that the former Trade Agency buildings at Yatung had been forced open, glass panes on the doors and windows broken and all the valuable properties removed. Soon after this was reported by the Consul General to the local authorities, the Vice-Director Mr. Hang, of the Lhasa Foreign Bureau told him that the local authorities were neither responsible for the safety of the property left at Yatung nor were they interested in what happened:
In the face of this, it is very strange that the Chinese Government are now, trying to shield the actions of the local miscreants carried on with the connivance of the local authorities. The "guilty conscience" referred to in the Chinese Government's note therefore appropriately applies to the Chinese side and not to the Indian side" In order to- shake off their responsibilities the Chinese Government have - now attempted to slander the officials of the former Indian Consulate General at Lhasa with the sole idea of deceiving others.
The Indian Government therefore categorically rejects the Chinese Government's slanderous allegations and continue to hold the Chinese Government solely responsible for the damage done to the properties of the Government of India at Lhasa and Yatung.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Who has seen Zhang Dejiang?

Zhang and President Mukherjee
The Indian media is a strange creature. It spends its time and energy on obsessions; every few days, it focuses on a new one while wearing blinkers for everything else. But even when it ignores ‘important’ news, nobody seems too much disturbed, as long as there is a good cricket ingredient and some spicy masala.
Last week, it was the Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj’s ‘chance’ to make the headlines; the Everest could have change place (and it did, moving a few centimeters inside Tibet), nobody was bothered.
Of course, cricket is the national game and it has to prime over all other national and international issues. With the foreign minister linked with a latest cricketgate, other information had no chance to make it on the TV plateaus or on the first page of the ‘national’ press (these days, page 1 often becomes page 3 or 5, thanks to giant advertisements for e-commerce or attractive investments).
Imagine my surprise as a China watcher, when one morning earlier this week, I found in my mailbox, a communique of the Public Information Bureau (PIB) announcing that an all-powerful member of the Standing Committee Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the previous day.
Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s legislature, had called on Mr. Modi, said the PIB.
Zhang is not an ordinary Chinese, he is third most powerful person in the Middle Kingdom; he is one of the 7 ‘emperors’ ruling a country which everyone fears, (though few will say it openly).
This powerful personage was in Delhi (and later in Mumbai) and nobody seems to have known about it. Was Mr Zhang not as important as LaMoGate? Probably!
Now, remember when Middle Kingdom No 2, Premier Li Keqiang, came to Delhi in May 2013. The press went wild for several weeks before. It is true, some People’s Liberation Army’s jawans had come uninvited and were camping in the desolate Depsang Plains of Ladakh; this was really irritating. But Mr. Li’s visit was so important that the then Indian Foreign Minister ran to Beijing to beg the Premier to come to Delhi.
Then in 2014, ‘Emperor No 1’ came. When Xi Jinping landed at Ahmedabad in September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined to give him and his beautiful wife Peng Liyuan, a genuine taste of ModiLand. The two leaders took a stroll down the picturesque Sabarmati riverfront and sat on a traditional Gujarati swing. This time again, the masala came from the remote Chumur area of South Ladakh where 1,500 PLA men crossed the ‘undefined’ LAC; they were ready to set up camp when India decided to send 2,000 Indian jawans to push them away. They eventually did. Media coverage lasted for weeks.
This time Communist Boss No 3 came and went and who noticed?
Hardly anybody!
On June 15, the Prime Minister's Office merely reported, via the PIB, that Mr Zhang called on him on that day; of course, the Prime Minister “warmly recalled his meeting with the NPC’s Chairman in Beijing on 15 May 2015”.
Zhang’s visit was just termed a ‘parliamentary exchange’, though Mr Modi acknowledged that this was ‘an important pillar of the bilateral relationship’. The Indian Prime Minister stressed the need to broaden the foundation of India-China relations by promoting exchanges between State-level legislatures as well. The fact remains that Zhang’s visit did not get the coverage it should have got in the Indian media.
Even the MEA was silent (though Syed Akbaruddin or his successor, Vikas Swarup are known to be amongst the quickest twitterers in India); this time, not a single tweet; blank. Where was the MEA? Fending for its minister? Not even.
As oftentimes, the PIB communique remained vague and dis not tell us what was really discussed. A new proposal for the LAC in Ladakh? An alternative to the stapled visas for Arunachalis or Kashmiris? The ‘peaceful’ spread of the PLA Navy on the oceans of the planet? The new route for the Kailash yatra, flagged off by the foreign minister herself? We will have to wait at least 50 years to read the declassified files.
Zhang Dejiang just endorsed the Prime Minister’s views that the 21st Century is the Asian Century and the future of the continent will depend on what India and China achieve individually and jointly.
Both leaders emphasized the importance of promoting investment, trade, tourism and people to people ties, and enhancing strategic communication and coordination, they even expressed their appreciation for the new interest in India’s and China’s ancient cultural and ‘spiritual’ ties, citing the joint Yoga Tai-Chi demonstration witnessed by Prime Minister Modi and Premier Li in Beijing.
Why waste such a high-level visit for such banalities?
I asked many journalist friends, but nobody knew anything about the visit.
But being persistent, I finally got to know what had happened while scanning the Chinese press. Mr Zhang’s visit lasted four days. It was a ‘friendly’ visit at the invitation of the Vice President and the Lok Sabha’s Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan. It was the first trip in India of a NPC’s Chairman in 14 years.
Xinhua reported (with nice photos) that Mr. Zhang met with Vice President Ansari the same day that he met the Prime Minister. They called for strengthening cooperation between legislative bodies of China and India.
During his meetings with Chairpersons of the Indian Houses, Mr Zhang said that he wanted to “upgrade the level and improve the quality of the current cooperation between the legislative bodies of the two countries.” He suggested that the two sides should carry out closer exchanges.
Mr Zhang also met President Pranab Mukherjee to whom he conveyed the cordial greeting of President Xi. He told the Indian President that “China and India have thousands of years of friendly exchanges and a history of mutual learning and benefiting from each other's culture” and pointed out that India and China are not only the two biggest developing countries, but also the two most dynamic market economies in the world. He added: “The two countries should join hands to realize goals for peaceful development, cooperative development and inclusive development, to benefit the 2.5 billion people of the two countries."
In other words, the usual stuff, but it is always good when it is reiterated at the highest level.
Pranab Mukherjee told him that India always lays great importance to developing good, friendly, neighborly relations with China.
Later, Mr Zhang went to Mumbai where he met the Governor and the Chief Minister.
Has not India missed a chance to convey that everything is not rosy in the bilateral relations, especially on the border issue?
Why was the MEA nowhere to be seen? Even the South Block twitters had fallen silent? Why did India loose such an opportunity to convey to this powerful Chinese politician, its position on several vexed issues? Why was the Indian public not informed?
As for the media, could it not have dropped the cricket scams for a day and covered the visit, asking the right questions?
The media need not worry, there will be more cricket scams to cover in the future.