China-India Relations “cannot be normalised without addressing the Tibetan issue,” Samdhong Rinpoche: An Interview
|Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche (File photo)|
4 July 2003: His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Government in exile views the current visit of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to China as an important step taken at an appropriate time. Samdhong Rinpoche, Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of Tibetan Government in exile speaks to Sahara Time about the impact of the visit. Excerpts:
Q: How do you look at the current visit of Indian Prime Minister to China?
A. We think it is an important step taken at a very right time. Good relations between the two most populous nations of the world can prove good for the world peace and also peace in Asia. We sincerely hope that Mr. Vajpayee’s China visit will lead to many political, social and economic changes in this part of the world. So we welcome it. We find it still more welcome in the light of how the Indian Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister have presented their policies on Tibet before the world during this visit.
Q: But newspaper headlines during this visit give impression as if India has sold out Tibet to China?
A. I think it will be unfair to blame the newspapers for what they published on one day on Tibet. In reality it was the Chinese government news agency Xinhua that released wrong news claiming, “India had, for the first time in history, explicitly recognized Tibet as an inalienable part of China.” Newspapers just published it verbatim without verifying it. But Mr. Yashwant Sinha very rightly and effectively clarified the situation. This event has only exposed the real intentions of Chinese government and its propaganda machinery.
Q: What would you say about Mr. Sinha’s statement from Beijing on this issue?
A. His statement is very precious to us. One thing is that he made is quite clear that there is no change in India’s policy on Tibet. Secondly, his statement from no other place than Beijing that His Holiness Dalai Lama is a respected guest of India and that the government of India cannot even think of asking him to leave India is very significant. In my opinion Mr. Sinha has demonstrated high levels of courage and morality by taking such a principled stand. Not only we Tibetans but, I am sure, people from all over the world would respect him and welcome his stand. His statement would have had lesser meaning had he said same thing in some other country. But by saying it in Beijing itself he has earned a lot of respect for himself, his government and, above all, for India as a nation.
Q: How the current talks and subsequent agreements between India and China would affect Tibetan movement?
A. It will be a positive impact. One good thing that happened during this China visit of Mr. Vajpayee relates to people’s concern for Tibet. After sometime people tend to forget Tibet. Even if it was because of a Chinese blunder, the issue of Tibet once again came back to international centre stage during Mr. Vajpayee’s China visit. Just before his visit the newspapers were ignoring the Tibetan issue as if it had ceased to be of any consequence to India. But thanks to the blunder by Xinhua and Indian media’s reaction to it, Tibet has once again emerged as an important issue in relations between India and China. However, we are of the opinion that the chances of a solution to the Tibetan issue will improve with improvement in India-China relations. This way this visit is going to help the Tibetan movement.
Q: What kind of change in Chinese attitude do you expect with improving economic and political relations between India and China?
A. One thing is that Chinese leaders must have realized by now that relations with Indian cannot be normalized without addressing the Tibetan issue. Moreover, we are noticing in past one year that Chinese leadership have started realizing that they can no more ignore international opinion on Tibet. I think they are also coming to the conclusion that finding a solution to the Tibetan problem through India could be more beneficial than through the western countries. Mr. Vajpayee’s China visit can prove significant in this direction.
By Vijay Kranti, SAHARA TIME weekly, New Delhi, Issue July-5, 2003