Politics is conducted with the support of levers. That is, the handles a politician or a party or a government has at its disposal in order to force or encourage the other side to respect it and behave in a prudent manner. India had signed the famous ‘Panchsheel Agreement’ with the communist China in April 1954. What levers did the government of India have to force China not to violate the agreement? From all accounts it appears the Indian leadership did not even think about it. They simply believed in the piece of paper they had by way of the agreement.
The result: when communist China started violating the agreement, a fact our Prime Minister Nehru himself complained about several times, he had nothing in hand to chastise the violator. As a matter of fact, India did have good levers to force the communist Chinese respect Panchsheel. But it did not occur to Nehru to use the handles. Because he was ideologically enamoured with Communism. And wanted to help it instead of taking care of his own country’s security.
How much the situation has changed since? Especially, did Indian leadership ever contemplate about all the levers that it can use against the communist Chinese rulers? Especially whenever they harm India by words or deeds? Apparently no. Which is the reason we have not been able to establish a normal relationship with the great neighbor.
Joshu, Nathan and Alex
Take examples from recent past. The names Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow. How many Indians know them? Hardly few, mostly those who prepare for competitive examinations in order to qualify for a job. Otherwise no Indian has any idea who these three fellows are. They are, among other things, a great handle for the Indians to hit the communist Chinese rulers. How?
Let us first see who they are. The three are young men of Hong Kong, an autonomous region now under communist China. The Hong Kong appellate authorities had imprisoned them for seven to eight months. Their crime? Asking for democracy in a peaceful meeting of youth. In other words, blatant violation of the rights of the citizens of Hong Kong. These rights were assured to them when the island was transferred from the British dominion to the communist China in 1998.
Our gentle citizens might wonder what India can do about it. Why, just condemn it with full voice! Give support to the democracy movement in Hong Kong and mainland China too. This is not only a matter of now fashionable human rights. But is also in consistence with the age old humanist tradition of siding with the oppressed. We ourselves rejoiced at such support when we were waging the independence struggle from the colonial rule. Besides, we kept supporting so many such struggles since our independence. For example, supporting the movement to end apartheid in South Africa, supporting Hungarians against the Soviet oppression and helping the
democracy movement in Nepal against he monarchy. In fact, the Socialist and Communist parties of India very actively took part in undermining the King of Nepal. Their aim was to ‘establish democracy’ in Nepal.
Then, pray, why our tongue is tied to raise voice of support to the democracy movement in Hong Kong? And in the mainland communist China too? Please note: this is a great handle in our hands in order to make the communist Chinese leaders behave. Besides doing the right thing. It is not a wicked or devious act to raise voice for Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow. Similarly, it is not at all wrong to raise the issue of Tibet’s autonomy that China has destroyed. And for the Tibetan people brutalized by the communist Chinese rulers. Again, it would not be meaningless to honour the fighters like Liu Xiaobo. Liu died in prison just for asking the rights mentioned in the present Chinese constitution.
This is the weakest spot of the communist Chinese leadership. They are the last communist dictatorship in the world. It is a great human duty to help people liberate themselves from all kind of brutal dictatorships. India also performed it in many cases. The same should be resumed for the common Chinese, Tibetan and Hong Kong people as well. This will raise our morale also, because it will show that we are stronger against the communist dictators.
Honour Dalai Lama
Even if the government of India hesitates for the moment, what stops the independent media? What stops the civil society? And our social and political organizations to come together in support of Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow? Our political parties could come together to make statements in support of the fledgling party ‘Demosisto’ in Hong Kong. What stops our cultural and literary organizations to honour the memory of Liu Xiaobo? Why the youth of universities in Delhi should not march to the Chinese embassy? They should even march to the UN offices in Delhi. Students should hand over a memorandum to extend support to the oppressed people of China, Tibet and Hong Kong. This should be done as and when some news of blatant abuse of their human rights come to our knowledge?
Our cultural and religious organization should start a human rights movement. Its aim should be to restore the traditional right of visiting Kailash and Mansarowar as it was till 1955? Our educational and cultural institutions should honour the Dalai Lama and give him platform to speak his wise words in order to benefit us? Why, we must ask our government to declare him as a ‘Bharat Ratna’ officially.
Please consider the issues coolly. The above are just few examples of action Indian people can initiate. This will help them feel equal and even superior to the communist China. These are all peaceful, civil and humanist actions. It is another matter that they are also political, indirectly to pressurize communist China. But that is very natural and legitimate. If the communist Chinese use their dictatorship to suppress their people, why the Indian people should not use their democracy to condemn them on all occasions?
Raise voice for oppressed Chinese population
If the Indian people started raising their determined voice in support of the oppressed people in China, Tibet and Hong Kong, the communist Chinese leaders would actually feel humbled. Also because it would encourage other countries in the world too to join the effort. The Chinese people are longing for freedom. They feel the constant fear of the ruling dictatorship. This fear among Chinese population is the most raw nerve of the communist Chinese leaders.
Therefore, criticizing the Chinese communist rulers for their all wrong and inhuman acts is the very thing India should have been doing right since 1956 when it came to light that the communist China was surreptitiously grabbing the Indian territory in Ladakh. It is a sure bet that had India raised the violation of Panchsheel – mainly a treaty for continuing the traditional relation between Indian and Tibet – at the international fora, the communist China would have retreated its oppression in Tibet and started behaving more respectfully with India. Because, it could have felt the power of the great levers India had and its willingness to use them. Especially as the Chinese communists were doing similar for a wrong cause in more shameless manner when they kept supporting, materially and vocally, the Indian communists to overthrow the democratic government of India and make it communist.
It has been counterproductive all along that the Indian leaders and people kept silence on the oppression of Tibet, and, of the Chinese people asking for democracy.
How China trampled Panchsheel
The ignorance with which Indian foreign policy and public conducted themselves is truly tragic. We have been celebrating the Panchsheel agreement unilaterally ever since, but never looked into what it actually was! Just a one and half page agreement and today hardly any Indian political leader or intellectual would know about its vital contents.
Even when, for instance on 5 July 2017 the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Gen Shuang accused India of ‘trampling Panchsheel’ we failed to use the opportunity. India should have shown the whole world who has trampled the Panchsheel and what it actually was, so that the issue of Tibet could become the world headlines.
The very title of the Panchsheel agreement mentions that it was about the ‘trade and intercourse between Tibet region of China and India’. In other words, the agreement recognized the special and independent nature of the relation between Tibet and India. That means India has a natural right to raise the issue of the Tibet. In fact, five of the all six articles of the Panchsheel agreement is nothing but a restatement of the fact in so many words.
It is all there in black and white
The Article III of the Panchsheel agreement says:
(1) Pilgrims from India of Lamaist, Hindu and Buddhist faith may visit Kang Rimpoche (Kailash) and Mavam Tse (Mansarowar) in the Tibet region of China in accordance with custom.
(2) Pilgrims from the Tibet region of China of Lamaist and Buddhist faiths may visit
Banaras, Sarnath, Gaya and Sanchi in India in accordance with custom.
Next, the Article V says:
(1) Traders of both countries known to be customarily and specifically engaged in trade between the Tibet region of China and India, their wives and children, who are dependent on them for livelihood and their attendants will be allowed entry for purposes of trade into India or the Tibet region of China, as the case may be, in accordance with custom on the production of certificates duly issued by the local Government of their own country by its duly authorised agents and examined by the border check posts of the other party.
(2) Inhabitants of the border districts of the two countries, who cross borders to carry on petty trade or to visit friends and relatives, may proceed to the border districts of the other party as they have customarily done heretofore and need not be restricted to the passes and route specified in Article IV above and shall not be required to hold passports, visas or permits.
(4) Pilgrims of both countries need not carry documents of certification but shall register at the border checkpost of the other party and receive a permit for pilgrimage.
From the above it can be understood what kind of free relations India and Tibet had since olden times up to the communist capture of China and Tibet. Now it can be earnestly asked who is violating the Panchsheel agreement? Are the Indians free to visit Kailash and Mansarowar, without getting any official permission, etc. as was the custom and agreed to in the agreement?
And are the Tibetans free to similarly pilgrimage to India in the customary manner? Are the traders of the two sides free to come and go with their families, servants and carts with just a certificate given by their respective local governments? Are the inhabitants of the both sides free to visit their friends whenever they liked and by crossing the border anywhere, and are not bound to do so by using only the official checkpoints?
Then and now it is only the communist Chinese rulers who created hurdles and then broke the relations altogether between Tibet and China. It is indeed a shameful chapter of independent India that her leadership proved to be naïve consistently as not to raise the issues even when it directly hit our security and culture. As a matter of fact, we behaved in a thoughtless manner. In that we regularly encouraged the communist China with our naiveté to beat us more and encroach upon our territory more.
Blunder of supporting China, ditching Formosa
It is useful to remember that the communist China was not at all powerful at that time or till the late 1970s. It was not even a member of the United Nations. The UN seat belonged to Formosa (Taiwan) who was the rightful member of the UN representing the erstwhile Republic of China. As a democratic country, India should have sided with Formosa, not the undemocratic communist China. But we did the opposite in a most ridiculous way.
Refusing UN seat by Nehru
The Nehru government campaigned in the UN to give recognition to the communist China. It was such a strange gesture in view of the communist China making troubles into Indian borders, then well known to the world. Nehru himself informed the Indian Parliament in 1959 that the Western nations laugh at India in the UN on this odd behavior, of supporting an inimical regime.
We may see it in his own words:
Take even the last meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations. When this question of China being seated there was brought up by some countries including India, people were surprised. They said: ‘Oh, India goes on doing this in spite of what has happened in Tibet, in spite of what has happened on India’s borders. How blind they are!’ It is not for me to say who is blind and who is notJ.L.Nehru in Lok Sabha speech on November 27, 1959
It is for any one to consider who was blind then. Especially, after taking into account that not only Nehru sponsored the case for the communist China, but he also refused to accept a permanent seat in the UN Security Council which was offered to India during 1950 to 1956 several times.
Nehru’s own words
For instance, on 24 August 1950, Ms Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, then the Indian Ambassador to the USA, wrote to her brother Jawaharlal Nehru from Washington, DC:
One matter that is being cooked up in the State Department should be known to you.Vijaya Laxmi Pandit papers, Ist instalment, Subject file 59, Letters to JLN from VLP, 132, NMML, New Delhi.
This is the unseating of China as a Permanent Member in the Security Council and of India being put in her place. Last week I had interviews with [John Foster] Dulles and [Philip] Jessup, reports of which I have sent to Bajpai. Both brought up this question and Dulles seemed particularly anxious that a move in this direction should be started. Last night I heard from Marquis Childs, an influential columnist of Washington, that Dulles has asked him on behalf of the State Department to build up public opinion along these lines.
Nehru’s response within the week was explicit, that he did not like the proposal:
In your letter you mention that the State Department is trying to unseat China as a permanent Member of the Security Council and to put India in her place. So far as we are concerned, we are not going to countenance it. That would be bad from every point of view. It would be a clear affront to China and it would mean some kind of a break between us and China. … We shall go on pressing for China’s admission in the UN and the Security Council.JLN to VPL, Aug 30, 1950, in Pandit I, Subject file no. 60, 137, NMML, New Delhi.
There are many other documented references that show how India repeatedly refused the permanent seat for the UN Security Council right up to 1956.
In fact, due to their respective strategic interests both the USA and USSR wanted to give the seat to India instead of the communist China! It was such a happy chance that could make India a permanently respectful position to have say in world affairs. Not to say of making us more secure in a warring world.
It is the saddest part of the Nehruvian diplomacy that it aggressively refused to accept the UN Security Council permanent seat in the name of ideological ‘principles’, neglecting the national interest. Had he done the right thing, we would not only have saved our land in Ladakh and Kashmir and rebuffed Pakistan from being a nuisance to us; but also helped Tibet to remain truly autonomous or become free again as it was till 1949. India as one of the five most powerful countries at the UN could have saved so many innocent lives in Tibet, China and India. Because
that would have made communist China a much less powerful entity. In fact, the very history of South Asia could have been different and peaceful.
Tibet: India’s complacence
This must be understood clearly that it was the Indian support to the communist China that helped it capture Tibet. The world community naturally looked to India as she was the most affected country by the developments in Tibet. As we see in the Panchsheel agreement above also, the relation of India and Tibet were most close and free till communist China captured it by force. It was Indian stance of support to it that silenced the West. Otherwise Tibet, a country of at least three hundred years of proven independence there before, could not be grabbed by the communist China. In fact, communist Russia was also uncomfortable with the Chinese move.
Which is why they wanted India to have the permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
Since all the communist dictatorships have by now collapsed save the Chinese and the North Korean, the issue of Tibet is by no means a closed chapter. Especially so as the Tibetans in exile as well as inside Tibet have shown exemplary courage and discipline to keep the flame of freedom alive. Today Tibet is the last colony in the world, and the entire world knows it as such.
Not a lost cause
There is no need to introduce the Dalai Lama anywhere in the world. What is more, the Tibetans are nonviolent in their movement and most peaceful. Besides being the leader and spiritual master of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama is also respected as the most respected seer and Buddhist Guru all over the world. As a matter of crucial fact, even the common Chinese also respects the Tibetan lamas. All this must be weighed carefully to understand the situation.
Therefore, Tibet is ‘not a lost cause’ to use the words of the well-known leftist journalist late Nikhil Chakravarty. Any event, inside China or other place may trigger the undoing of the communist dictatorship. Please recall the unraveling of the Soviet Union, the second superpower for decades till 1980s. Communist China is no way more powerful than that. In fact, the Chinese communist rule is now more vulnerable.
China is more vulnerable, less powerful
The very incidents like jailing the young kids like Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow for merely demanding freedom of expression and free elections shows the state of affairs. The recent death of Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel laureate and most kind person, in the Chinese prison as he was suffering form the last stage of cancer shows the fear of the Chinese communists even more vividly. Liu was not allowed to say even his final words to the people of China. What does it indicate? The fear psychosis of the communist leadership who are aware that just anything can
be the beginning of their downfall. Hence not taking chances and showing their determination to punish all those who dare to criticize them.
Now this is totally unacceptable by the common standards of the entire democratic world. The world is silent for various reasons. But its is not the case that the world is afraid of the Chinese communists. Rather it is the other way round. Hence the Chinese communists’ nervousness over any incidence perceived harmful to their interests. Their dictatorship is but their vulnerability. Especially so in the age of social media and easy access to all the information for the entire world. They are just managing their rule somehow.
India should take advantage
Therefore, the role of India is still a key for the world as it was in 1950s. If India slowly and confidently takes the rightful path of securing its interests and that of the humanity, the West will quickly follow suit. As to the inferiority complex, deliberately hammered by the Congress regimes to conceal the blunders of Nehru and internalized by the Indian establishments since the 1962 humiliation, it is all the more necessary that we should come out of it. The very coming out of it will be a fundamental change in the Indo-Chinese relations. It might affect the communist
Chinese in spectacularly positive way. One should know the fears of dictators. They are more afraid of words than weapons. All past and present show it most clearly.
There is no danger of war between China and India, if we just speak our mind on human rights in China and Tibet. Especially so as the communist China has been supporting anti-India Islamic terrorists like Masud Azhar and encouraging anti-Hindu forces in India, accusing ‘Hindu nationalism’ being the villain for the deteriorating Indo-Chinese relations.
We must reciprocate, in fact take the opportunity given by the communist Chinese leadership, in saying with all our moral and vocal force that it is the communist dictatorship of China who has been the bane of all the violence inside China, Tibet, Hong Kong as well as in relations with India. They had openly supported the Naxal movement for violence in India. They have destroyed the ‘customary’ relations of Tibet and India, and they have hindered the cordial relations of the Chinese and Indian people who enjoyed a mutual goodwill for millennia. It is a proven fact that only since the communist capture of power in 1949 the relations of China with India, and with Tibet became hostile.
India’s double advantage
Therefore, as and when the communist Chinese try to browbeat India the Indian side must use the opportunity to lecture them more profoundly on humanism and democracy. Please note: we have double advantage. One, we can speak freely as society irrespective of the government stance. We can honour democracy fighters of China, Hong Kong and Tibet even if the government of India does not. Secondly, we are on the freedom side while the Chinese communists are on the repressive one. The public opinion of the world and that of inside China is on the side of freedom of expression. They need it and value it. Here is the words of Liu Xiaobo spoken in 2002 to consider:
“[F]or people like me, who live inside a cowardly dictatorship, which is a prison of its own kind, every little bit of good-hearted encouragement that springs from the human nature of people who live in other places…causes us to feel gratitude and awe.”
We must understand the power and should not underestimate those heartfelt words. There are many more Liu Xiaobos in China working and waiting for the good day. We must do the simplest thing the citizens of any democracy can do most easily – to support the freedom movement in any repressive rule.
Democracy Vs Dictatorship
There are other advantages also we enjoy in comparison to the communist China. However, for the moment we may contemplate on the contrast between democracy and dictatorship only. Democracy might have its own shortcomings but in contrast to communism it has enormous advantages. It is a proven fact. The undoing of all the communist dictatorships in Russia, Eastern Europe, Arab and Latin America is a case in point.
In short, we must start using our advantages against the communist Chinese rulers. As Liu Xiaobo had famously said “I have no enemies and no hatred”, we Indians should show that we have all goodwill to the Chinese people but are opposed to the brutal dictatorship of the communists. The communists who by their own admission have killed at least 60 million Chinese during their single party rule. It is quite right to show them mirror and extend moral support to the freedom loving people of China, Hong Kong and Tibet.
If the communist dictatorship is using its repressive, abusive tools against the people; why on earth Indian democracy should not express its love for freedom and dharma towards the same people? To be sure, the communist Chinese have questionable levers but we Indians have levers that humanity always approves. It is up to us to see that it is so well demonstrated on the world stage.
The two great civilisations
Both Indian and Chinese are great civilizations. Both are trying to have the rightful place in the world in the changing times. It is our duty to show friendliness to the Chinese people while being critical to their illegitimate rulers. The present discord between the two countries is temporary as the communist dictatorship in China also is. We must see clearly the path for both the civilizations to again come to the traditional kindness to each other.