[The Assam Tribune]
R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Oct 5 – The Tibetan issue should be the core issue of the border talks between India and China, observed the Tibetan Prime Minister in Exile, Dr Lobsang Sangay. He also said that for long-term and sustainable relations between India and China, the border issue should be resolved amicably.
The following are excerpts from an interview with Dr Sangay on issues including relations between India and China following the Chinese President’s recent visit to India.
Assam Tribune: You must have followed the recent visit of the Chinese President to India. Can you please let us know the Tibetan Government’s views on the visit?
Dr Sangay: We welcome a good relationship between India and its neighbours including China. Positive relations between India and China will be a net positive gain for Tibet.
AT: It is reported that both India and China agreed to settle the border disputes amicably. What is your comment on the issue? Can India and China settle the border disputes soon?
Dr Sangay: For a long-term sustainable relation between India and China, it is imperative that the border dispute between India and China is amicably solved as soon as possible. However, the path of Tibet has to be crossed if both India and China want to see the border dispute resolved soon. India and Tibet have shared a common border for centuries before 1951. In 1914, the Simla Convention was signed between Tibet and British India. On the sidelines of the convention, two agreements each on border and trade were signed. The border between Tibet and British India came to be known as the McMahon Line while the trade agreement was renewed every ten years between Tibet and British India, in 1924, 1934, and 1944; however in 1954, it was renewed between Beijing and New Delhi. In the preamble of the 1954 agreement, five points were added which came to be known as Panchsheel. Since, McMahon Line and Panchsheel have both stemmed from the Simla convention between British India and independent Tibet, the convention ultimately becomes the legitimate foundation. The Tibet issue is therefore, linked directly to the boundary issue and I have always urged India to take up Tibet as a core issue during talks with the Chinese leadership.
AT: Do you believe that the Tibet issue should feature in the talks between India and China? Should the Tibetan Government-in-Exile be involved in the talks between India and China?
Dr Sangay: We have always been asking for the Tibet issue to be made a core issue in the talks between India and China. China has always said Tibet is a core issue, and it should be the same for India and South Asia as a whole. Our hope is that the Indian government should press on the Chinese government to resolve the issue peacefully through dialogue. Our stand has been the Middle Away approach which is to seek genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution.
AT: What is your comment on the Chinese incursions in Ladakh just hours before the Chinese president’s visit to India? Is it a show of strength by China?
Dr Sangay: As I have said earlier, for a long term amicable relation between India and China, the border dispute has to be solved. The Chinese incursions in Ladakh and the previous many incursions by China show the urgency of the matter at hand.
AT: Last time when we met, you told us that the talks between Chinese Government and the emissaries of the Dalai Lama stopped in 2010. Is there any new development?
Dr Sangay: His Holiness the Dalai Lama has always accommodated Chinese outreach efforts in his daily life. He meets Chinese scholars, intellectuals, students, etc wherever he goes. However, formal interactions with the Chinese government are at a stalemate since January 2010, not because the Tibetan side lacks willingness, but because China is maintaining hard-line policies at the ground level. Talks between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government should continue as soon as possible. For us, the process is secondary and the substance is primary.
AT: What is your comment on the Chinese investment proposals in India?
Dr Sangay: Progressive economic relations between China and India are of benefit to both the nations. It can be a boost to the existing relations through which further political issues can be resolved.