May 1, 2023

China’s Narrative War: Impact and Challenges for South Asia

Written By: Vijay Kranti

It is quite interesting and equally annoying too, to note that with the ever increasing economic and military might of China, the leadership of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is becoming assertive, rather bullying, in forcing its own narratives on the world community. Be it the CCP’s claims over territories of neighbouring countries; or its claims about absolute ownership of South China Sea and East China Sea; or demands from the world to accept its own version of history of China and Asia; or dictating to the international organisations to reframe their rules and to redefine even universally accepted norms on concepts like human rights, colonialism, democracy, freedom of navigation in international seas etc. as per it’s diktats; or forcing its indebted business partner countries to sign on dotted lines of completely opaque contracts and ‘treaties’… China is becoming more assertive and demanding by each passing day. This trend has gained new acceleration since President Xi Jinping has taken over the reins of China as its ‘Paramount Leader’. So much so, that even mighty and influential power centres like the USA and European Union, who had got used to ‘accommodating’, even encouraging China to run around in the way it likes, are now feeling threatened and insecure after the rise of President Xi. They are now finding it difficult to push back Xi who is bent upon enforcing his own version of world order that claims supremacy and command of China on every issue and wants to leave no meaningful space for the Western or any other power group in world affairs. Things are far more worrying and alarming for China’s immediate neighbours like India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Afghanistan who suddenly found themselves facing China as their immediate neighbour following occupation of Tibet and East Turkestan. This paper is mainly focused on the challenges faced by these South Asian countries at the hands of China and the strategy they can adopt to meet these challenges effectively.

It is worth noting that the Chinese rulers have reached the current heights of arrogance by gradually promoting and enforcing a specific set of narratives and myths which they have systematically evolved over years to suit their needs and future goals. Unfortunately, this approach has gained roots over past decades because many governments and major international corporates saw virtue, convenience and fat profits in kowtowing to the diktats of Beijing. But now, in the changed international scenario, these very governments and business corporates are finding themselves trapped in the Chinese ‘Chakravyuh’ (a term borrowed from Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’ which refers to a military formation that leaves the enticed and encircled enemy in an inescapable situation) and find themselves at a total loss over deciding how to pull out of China’s bearhug.

All this calls for a new international consensus and resolve to evolve a united front to take the Chinese challenge head on. It may not be very simple to build up a common military alliance to handle China’s military threats but it should be an easier task to break those Chinese narratives and myths on whose strength this mighty communist empire stands today. On close examination one will find that these Chinese narratives and myths are nothing more than the proverbial feet of clay and can be countered effectively. To demolish these narratives decisively one will have to understand basic facts around these Chinese claims and narratives.

Chinese Narrative and South Asia

The scope of present analysis has been kept limited to China’s aggressive and threatening postures towards India and the rest of South Asia. Since most of the prevailing Chinese narratives and myths, which are handled in this paper, are common to most other countries in the context of their relations and problems with China, it should be easy for other experts to extend this study to their own countries by bringing in those additional Chinese narratives which are specific to those countries.

Before we take up these narratives and myths of China, it would be useful to understand that the world’s troubles with China are neither a sudden phenomenon nor exclusively because of the emergence of President Xi Jinping as the ‘Paramount Leader’ of present-day China. The evolution of present-day aggressive China started since the historic establishment of a free and independent Republic of China in 1912. Since then, the common aim of all later rulers and leaders of PRC has been to fulfil the dream of their Han ancestors who wanted to establish China as the ‘Middle Kingdom’ of the world. On the contrary, the leaders of world governments, business leaders and China experts have been dealing with China mainly to achieve their own immediate profits and political goals. Very rarely have they understood or focused on the common aspirations and dreams of China as a nation. No wonder most of the world governments and corporate leaders of the world are finally realising that in their pursuit of making profits from China, they have been simply helping China to become the Frankenstein that it has become today.

On critical analysis one will discover that the gradual metamorphism of present-day massive ‘Peoples Republic of China’ (PRC) from a petty ‘Republic of China’ (ROC) of 1912 is not the result of an unplanned game or random and accidental historic happenings. Even during the Chinese ‘Xinhai Revolution’ of 1911 against the foreign Manchurian ‘Qing’ rule, the flags and slogans of the revolutionaries called for ‘Five Races Under One Union[i]’ which was aimed at including the Manchurians, Mongols, Hui (Muslims including the Uyghurs) and Tibetans in the new Han (Chinese) nation. In much later years, when Chairman Mao Zedong of the Chinese Communist Party announced his plans to grab Tibet and declared “Tibet is China’s palm and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and NEFA (now ‘Arunachal Pradesh’) are its fingers”, he had made China’s future plans clear not only about Tibet but also about India and the rest of South Asia. But unfortunately, the leaders of these South Asian countries and their friends failed to understand the seriousness of Mao’s plans.

It is also interesting to note that despite ongoing civil war and power struggle within the newly found Republic of China, the erstwhile rulers occupied Southern Mongolia in 1919 while claiming that it was ‘Inner Mongolia’ and a part of China. In later years occupation of Manchuria into China in 1945; East Turkistan (renamed as ‘Xinjiang’) in 1949; and Tibet in 1951, simply shows that the Han mind has always been clear about its national agenda despite ongoing serious and bloody internal civil wars throughout this period. Following occupation of Tibet and asserting it as an ‘integral part of China’, Beijing started laying claims over lands of India, Nepal and Bhutan by claiming that those areas belonged to Tibet and hence are part of China. With India, Beijing is laying claims over a major part of Arunachal Pradesh by branding it as ‘South Tibet’. After announcing Chinese names for 21 places of Arunachal Pradesh in 2017 and 2021, Beijing has given a Chinese name ‘Zangnan’ to this Indian state besides renaming 11 more of its places. It will not be surprising if China comes up with similar claims over Ladakh by digging out some disputes between old regimes of Ladakh and Tibet in history.

After the establishment of PRC one can clearly see the focus of different leaders and their well-orchestrated and integrated approach towards making China an economic, military and political superpower. Following the blood-bathed birth of PRC, Chairman Mao worked consistently to consolidate the roots of the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese system. Through an eventful decade of ‘Cultural-Revolution’ he drastically cleansed the CCP and the national system of every such element that could be later dangerous or troublemaker against his leadership or the supremacy of CCP. In his last days he successfully opened the closed doors between the PRC and the rest of world by establishing links with USA and winning acknowledgement and acceptance of the western world for PRC and thus successfully replacing Chiang Kai-shek’s ROC from the United Nations to occupy its top seat in the Security Council. After Mao, it was Deng Xiaoping, yet another ‘Paramount’ leader, who cleverly used the western world’s vast financial resources, its modern technology, production facilities and even its markets to enhance China’s economic, military and political power. In the post-Deng era all following helmsmen of China multiplied and further consolidated the gains attained by Deng.

By the time President Xi Jinping arrived as the latest ‘Paramount’ leader, all grounds were set for him to place China in the top position in every field that mattered to assert China’s supremacy over the world. Interestingly, it is the same money which China made at the cost of western and other leading economies which Xi is now using to execute his ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) as China’s Trojan horse across the world and to buy out votes of smaller nations to occupy the UN and almost every other international institution from within. Under Xi’s leadership, PRC has reached a position from where it can now dictate the UN to implement the Chinese agenda. So much so, that today’s China has got the guts and arrogance to dictate UN bodies to rewrite and redefine their definitions of as sensitive issues as human rights and democracy. Over recent decades, Xi’s China has liberally given massive loans to already failing countries and established China’s naval and other military bases by bribing their corrupt leaders. That is how Xi’s China has today reached a point from where it can now threaten any country in the South China Sea, East China Sea, the Pacific or Indian Ocean and the Gulf. Thanks to its military power and modern technology, China has been able to create artificial islands at places of its choice to lay claim over the entire South China Sea.

How to Fight Chinese Narratives and Myths

With this background it is worth understanding and examining the narratives and myths which the Chinese system has evolved over the years and is now trying to push and implant into the international mindscape, to further consolidate its dominance. Some major narratives and myths which China’s propaganda machinery has evolved and has thrust upon South Asian countries with appreciable success are:

  • PRC is the ‘real’ China and the world must follow ‘one-China’ policy.
  • Today’s China is the result of a ‘seamless succession’ from history.
  • Tibet was an ‘integral part’ of China’ in history.
  • Tibet, Xinjiang, South Mongolia are ‘internal matters’ of China and are of ‘core interest’ to PRC.
  • No one should meddle with China’s ‘core interests’.
  • No Human Rights violations are committed in China and no one should dare to raise this issue.
  • China is a happy family of 56 ‘nationalities’ I.e. ’56 sisters’.
  • Selection of next reincarnation of Dalai Lama is China’s exclusive right.
  • India-China border is a ‘secondary’ issue and should be kept aside for dealing in future at an appropriate time.
  • The South China Sea is China’s Sea whereas the Indian Ocean is not India’s Ocean.

Present analysis will deal with some of these Chinese narratives specifically and singularly, whereas the reality behind other narratives and myths, as propagated by China, can be automatically understood through explanations on one or more of these issues.

The very first issue which appears to be the mother of most of Chinese narratives and myths is China’s loud claims about PRC being the ‘real’ and ‘original’ China. Interestingly, the present communist China’s narrative does not stop here. Its new and rewritten history now claims that the present-day China is a result of ‘seamless succession of Chinese dynasties’. Any student of communication will admire the skills of CCP and the Chinese leaders in rewriting history and using propaganda as a fine art to make the world believe this Chinese narrative in order to achieve China’s immediate as well as long term goals. This fine art was at its best in 2004, when the Chinese government released an ambitious 40-episode long epic TV serial “Genghis Khan” on its national network of television – the CCTV. The main focus of this entire exercise was to appropriate Genghis Khan as a ‘Great son of China,’ and this theme was propagated aggressively through the promos of this TV serial on entire Chinese media. Interestingly, it was the same Genghis Khan who had founded the vast Mongol Empire in the 13th century (1206) and his dynasty (also known as ‘Yuan’) had ruled over China and many other countries of larger Asia and parts of Europe for more than 300 years. It was the Qing dynasty of Manchuria who later replaced the Mongols to subjugate the Ming Empire of the Han China. That makes it over seven centuries long history of subjugation and foreign occupation of China. The immediate goal of this Chinese narrative is to make the world forget that it was not the Mongols and the Manchurians who occupied China and were the rulers of these empires, but it was China who ruled over vast areas of Asia and adjoining regions through these ‘great sons of China’. Beijing tried to persuade other governments to run this epic on their national TV networks but could not succeed beyond its two willing friends namely North Korea KBS network and the Turkish state TRT.

China’s communist historian rewriters are now in their overdrive to establish that in addition to the Song and Ming Empires of Han China, the Mongol Empire and the Manchu Empire too were ‘Chinese’ Empires and hence the present day PRC is a product of ‘seamless succession’ of these ‘Chinese’ dynasties. Once established, this narrative is surely going to give a logical ground to Beijing rulers to not only legitimise their colonial occupation of Tibet, East Turkistan and a part of Mongolia but it will also open doors for fortifying China’s claims over many parts of Russia, Europe and those countries of Central and South-East Asia which were conquered by the Mongols or the Manchus at some stage of history. In case China of future years succeeds in making the world accept this new definition of colonialism and subjugation, then it is surely bound to open doors for many hilarious claims from countries across the world. For example, based on this very Chinese logic, Australia will have reasons to claim that India is a part of Australia or for New Zealand to stake its claim of ownership over Australia simply because all of these three countries were once colonised by Great Britain.

The Lethargic ‘Sinologists’

Until recently the world had got used to study and understanding of Sinology through such Sinologists who relied heavily, rather exclusively on Chinese language and Chinese resources while deliberately and completely ignoring other resources, especially the contemporary Mongol, Tibetan and Manchu worldviews. This has given rise to a large community of ‘Sinologists’ who suffer from the handicap of partial, wrong and biased understanding of China and the victim of its colonialism like the Tibetans, Mongols and the Uyghurs. In turn, this palpable handicap of this section of Sinologists has severely confused the understanding of China and related subjects by many entities like governments, research institutions, think tanks, corporate houses and the world media. It is not therefore surprising that all such groups became willing or inadvertent buyers of the myths and narratives which have been deliberately and systematically built up by China. That explains why a sizeable section of governments and think tanks sincerely believe that today’s PRC is the result of a “seamless succession” from past dynasties; and that present PRC is the ‘Real China’; and that Tibet, Xinjiang (East Turkistan), Southern Mongolia and Manchuria have been always ‘integral parts of China’ in history.

These Chinese myths of ‘Seamless Succession’ or PRC’s ownership of these Chinese colonies has been logically and effectively demolished by famous international lawyer and veteran expert on Tibet and China, Michael Van Walt Van Praag and Miek Boltjes in their long and systematic study of today’s China’s history. This study was published in 2020 as a book titled, “TIBET BRIEF 20/20” (the authors have borrowed the ‘20/20’ terminology from ophthalmology which represents ‘perfect vision’ of the human eyes). Based on a ten-year long research, analysis and active engagement with scholars of Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan and Manchu backgrounds and their respective historical sources, Michael and Miek have minutely examined these claims and the narratives of present Chinese government. In their research they came to the conclusion:

“The PRC’s narrative used to prove historical Chinese ‘ownership’ of or sovereignty over Tibet has a number of fundamental flaws. Firstly, it conflates ‘China’ with the dominant empires of Asia and invokes and interprets the relationships that those empires developed with Tibet as evidence of Chinese or China’s historical sovereignty over Tibet. The PRC does this by deploying the traditional Chinese narrative of the seamless succession of dynasties, all labeled as “Chinese,” thereby obscuring the nature of the Mongol and Manchu empires, both of which were not Chinese. By concealing that China was absorbed by conquest, into these Inner Asian empires and suggesting instead that those empires’ foreign rulers were absorbed into China, the PRC appropriates those same empires to claim for itself rights to territories outside China. The PRC furthermore claims modern territorial sovereignty over those territories on the basis of historical forms of rule and types of relationships that do not at all conform to, nor translate into, modern concepts of sovereignty and territoriality…”[ii]

Interestingly, PRC has been using its manufactured logic of ‘seamless succession of dynasties’ to fortify its claims over Tibet, East Turkistan (Ch: Xinjiang) and Southern Mongolia (Ch: Inner Mongolia). Using this very logic, China not only justifies occupying Tibet and extending its borders right up to the doors of India, Nepal and Bhutan, but it is now laying claims over many bordering areas of these countries by claiming them to be ‘Chinese’ territories. Whereas the truth is that none of them have ever had an inch of common border with China for past thousands of years. That explains why the South Asian countries need to challenge China’s invasion of Tibet to effectively counter this Chinese geographic offensive against their sovereignty and national security. Recent steps by the US government to make new laws like the “Tibet Policy and Support Act of 2020”[iii] and then  yet another bipartisan Tibet Bill, which has been introduced in the US Congress in July last year (2022) talks of ‘illegal occupation of Tibet by China” as it says, “numerous United States declarations since the Chinese invasion have recognised Tibet’s right to self-determination and the illegality of China’s occupation of Tibet.”[iv] This change of heart on the part of USA can surely help in uplifting the morale of these South Asian countries to stand up to Chinese pressures and threats.

This awakening in the Western block is also an emerging push back to China on its obsession with ‘One-China-Policy’. This policy of Beijing has its origin in the communist revolution of Chairman Mao which dethroned the Nationalist government of Kuomintang of President Chiang Kai-shek in 1949. When Chiang fled to nearby island of Formosa (now Taiwan) and claimed his ‘Republic of China’ as the ‘real’ China, his friendly Western block, led by the USA, recognised the ROC as the ‘Real’ China. Chairman Mao and his communist government contested this claim of Chiang vehemently but of no avail until 1970s when USA and its allies saw Mao’s China more profitable than ROC and a useful tool to check the influence of the communist superpower USSR. As a result of this change of heart on the part of USA and its allies across the world, the PRC got the recognition as the ‘real China’. Consequently, the membership of the UN, the permanent seat at the Security Council and its associated powers of veto and other rights, which were being enjoyed by Chiang’s ROC since 1945, got transferred to Mao’s PRC overnight in 1971. This was surely a major victory of Beijing’s ‘One-China-Policy’. However, for its own reasons, USA continued supporting Taiwan as an independent entity and protecting it from China’s military aggression. This US policy has continued till this day despite Beijing consistently aiming at complete control over Taiwan as just another province of China.

It is interesting to note that after getting the formal recognition as the ‘Real China’ the Chinese leadership quietly expanded their definition of ‘One-China Policy’ from Taiwan to Tibet, Xinjiang, Southern Mongolia and Hong Kong. Today Beijing is aggressively demanding that all governments, institutions and organisations must follow its new definition of ‘One-China Policy’. It demands them not to treat or mention these ‘regions’ as separate entities from China. On so many occasions Beijing has warned governments and human rights bodies that any international discussion on the human rights situation inside these regions or objections about the exploitation of vast natural resources of these territories will be treated as an interference in the ‘internal matters’ of China. To further press its stand, China has declared all of these issues as ‘Core Interests’ of China. Chinese leaders throwing tantrums even at the mention of these names in any international forum or media has become a common norm. Beijing leaders have now come to believe religiously that China has every right to treat these peoples as it feels fit and that Beijing needs no permission, consent, advice or approval from these countries or human rights institutions about how it should conduct itself in these ‘integral’ parts of China.

In a commentary published by “South China Morning Post”, a prominent newspaper from Hong Kong in 2021, Chinese commentator Shi Jiangtao underlined this cleverness of Beijing in his article “Decoding the Deliberate Ambiguities of China’s Expanding Core Interests”. He writes:

“Beijing’s decade-old definition of what constitutes its core interests and how they should be ranked hierarchically are studiously vague and seldom updated…When it comes to sovereignty, Beijing has steadily expanded the scope of its ‘core interests’ from Taiwan, which Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described recently as ‘the mother of all core interests,’ to include the restive western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, followed by Hong Kong.”[v]

China has now reached a position from where, on the strength of votes of its client state members in the UN, it can road-roll even international institutions like the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It can even grab lands and finished projects like ports, naval bases and airports from its own ‘friends’ (like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Djibouti, Uganda etc) simply because they were too poor to pay back China’s loans. This tendency of China has created new dangers of as serious dimensions as the historic ‘Cuban Crisis’ for dozens of countries, and even for super powers like the USA. China’s presence in Hambantota of Sri Lanka, Coco Islands of Myanmar, Gwadar of Pakistan and Djibouti are examples of new dangers for the entire South Asia especially India.

All this makes it pertinent that the democratic world will have to develop a logical answer to this Chinese arrogance. One of many possible approaches towards this goal is to minutely examine the grounds on which Beijing has been resting its claims of ownership over its colonies like Tibet, East Turkistan (Xinjiang), S. Mongolia and Hong Kong which happen to the soft belly of China.

China’s claims over and occupation of Tibet (1950-51) and East Turkistan (Xinjiang) (1949) are two specific cases which have severely impacted the sovereignty and national security of South Asia and Central Asia. These countries, which suddenly found China on their borders after the latter walked over East Turkistan and Tibet are India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia and Mongolia. It is not a coincidence that China has raised border disputes with all of these countries who had otherwise never shared an inch of their borders with China over thousands of years in their past history. Interestingly, all of these claims are based on China’s perceptions about the geography of Tibet and East Turkistan. China’s claims over large parts of India’s Arunachal Pradesh by calling it as ‘South Tibet’ or because one of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet was born there, is a typical example of China’s perceived claims and belligerence.

This surely calls for examining the truth behind China’s claims over Tibet and Xinjiang and challenging the very ground from where it draws its authority and arrogance against its new neighbours. One of these Chinese claims is that “Today’s China is a result of a ‘seamless succession’ from history”. China’s other claim is that “it has historic ‘entitlement’ to Tibet and Xinjiang because they have been ‘integral parts’ of China throughout history”. These two Chinese claims, if found wrong and proven logically fictitious, should be enough for the world community to challenge China’s ‘illegal occupation’ of these two countries. Strategically too, this is quite important for the South Asian countries because once these Chinese claims are demolished, it will not only give enough relief and courage to the new Asian ‘neighbours’ of China to confront Beijing and it’s communist masters, but will also give the world community a logical reason to restore human rights of the occupied peoples of Tibet and Xinjiang in addition to challenging China’s rights to exploit enormous natural resources of these two countries.

To demolish China’s claims over Tibet, Xinjiang and ‘Inner Mongolia’ Beijing leaders need to be reminded that the boundaries of original and historic China were defined by none other than their own Song and Ming dynasties who took 2300 years (7th Century BCE – to – 1644 CE) to build the ‘Great Wall of China’ to protect it from foreign invaders who were none other than the Mongols, Tibetans, Manchus, Uyghurs, Kazakhs etc whom the Chinese people still refer to as ‘barbarians’. This 21,196 km long mammoth wall marked the limits of China in history.

In the case of Tibet, PRC’s only basis of its claim over Tibet as “integral part of China since antiquity” is its own view of history. It is only China’s narrative on the history of China which offers it the legitimacy to its rule over Tibet. Research done by Michael and Meik says, “Our research firmly establishes that contrary to the PRC’s claim, Tibet was historically never a part of China. Though not always ‘independent’ in the modern legal sense of that term and subject to various degrees of Mongol, Manchu and even British authority or influence, it was most certainly never a part of China. The PRC therefore, also could not have ‘inherited it’ from the Republic of China or earlier empires, as it claims. As a matter of fact, Tibet was an independent state de facto and de jure from 1912 to 1950-51 when the PRC invaded it. ”[vi]

Yet another claim of China which raises its ownership of many occupied regions stands in sharp contrast with the facts from its own records. Chinese Communist Party frequently boasts of China as a happy family of “56 Sisters” which are also referred to as ‘nationalities’. But China’s own official census data shows that a large number of these ‘nationalities’ are progressing towards extinction. Thanks to aggressive policies of forced marriages with majority Hans and selective and forced abortions, the populations of many have reached museum levels. Last Chinese census report shows that total non-Han communities account for less than 8 percent as compared to the Hans. For example, the Manchus have already lost the status of an ‘autonomous’ region.

This author has been a first-hand witness to emergence of massive new Han cities and towns in Tibet which have been developed for migrant Han settlers across Tibet where Tibetan cities and towns like Lhasa, Shigatse and Lithang have been dwarfed by Han settlements. New chain of over 600 Chinese ‘prosperous’ villages, established along Indian border on President Xi’s personal initiative have become a cause of concern for the Indian defence establishment. This once again signifies Xi Jinping’s intent of using Tibet as a launch pad against India

In September 2011, China issued a White Paper titled “China’s Peaceful Development”.[vii] While announcing China’s ‘Core Interests’ in the above-mentioned White-Paper CCP takes a high moral ground by announcing that, “China fully respects other countries’ legitimate rights to protect their interests. While developing itself, it fully accommodates other countries’ legitimate concerns and interests and never makes gains at others’ expense or shifts its own troubles onto others.”[viii] But by invoking the ‘Core Interests’ like state sovereignty, national security and territorial integrity from the same White-Paper, China has picked up serious ‘territorial’ disputes with many Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines and Vietnam also. In order to fortify its claims and threaten these countries China is using its most modern technologies and money power to occupy, expand and develop minor rock tips in the South China Sea into expanded islands with facilities like runways to station its airbases.

One of the most dominant narratives, being promoted by Beijing today is about President Xi’s obsession about occupying the institution of Dalai Lama who has been traditionally the supreme spiritual leader of Tibet like the Pope in the Vatican, and executive head of Tibet like a monarch. Since 1959 when Dalai Lama escaped to India to save his life from the Chinese PLA, China did everything under its control to wipe out his personal influence and religious faith from the hearts of Tibetan masses. They religiously believed that a Tibetan minus his faith in Buddhism and Dalai Lama will make a perfect ‘patriotic’ Chinese citizen. For first three decades the CCP masters in Beijing believed reports of their leaders and cadres in Tibet that everything was fine; Tibetans were happy under the communist rule; and were thankful to CCP and Chairman Mao for ‘liberating’ them from the ‘feudal’ clutches of Dalai Lama. But massive Tibetan uprisings of Tibetan masses in 1987 and 1989 calling for Tibet’s independence and return of Dalai Lama forced Beijing to rethink and re-craft their strategy on Tibet. New policy is to grab the Tibetan religion and its institutions from within to ensure final control over Tibet. Starting with officially organizing search committees for the incarnations of Panchen Lama and Karma Pa the CCP finally came out with a new law in 2007 which makes it mandatory for any reincarnate Lama of Tibet, including the Dalai Lama to be searched, certified and installed formally only after written approval of the CCP.

Following emergence of Xi at the helm of China the campaign of controlling every Tibetan Buddhist incarnation and propagating supremacy of CCP over the incarnation system has acquired feverish dimensions. With ageing Dalai Lama’s each passing birthday Xi’s claims over the Dalai Lama’s institution are gaining momentum. This has forced the US government to come out with a counter law “Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019” in 2020 which stops China from any interference in the reincarnation system of Tibet and obliges the US government of the day to take decisive steps against China. A similar momentum in the European Union too is emerging. But strangely, no interest or even awareness among the South Asian governments on this issue is visible despite the fact that a China holding control over the institution of Dalai Lama and the Tibetan religious institutions is bound to play havoc with the sovereignty and security of India, Nepal and Bhutan. Since entire 4000 km long Himalayan belt of these three countries is predominantly Buddhist and most of root Gurus and monasteries of this belt have their headquarters in Tibet, the future Dalai Lama can be used as a devastating tool by Beijing in causing social, religious and political tsunami all along this region. Especially for India, a Dalai Lama in the hands of China is bound to disintegrate the entire Himalayan region. As Nepal and Bhutan have already exposed their helplessness against China, it is now for New Delhi to decide how it wants to protect its national integrity, sovereignty and international image. Challenging China’s ‘illegal’ occupation of Tibet and taking a clear stand on Dalai Lama’s reincarnation seems a very brave, but an inevitable option.

With the ever-expanding military, political and economic power of China the challenges before the world community, especially China’s new South Asian countries are increasing and making the more vulnerable. That calls for new strategies and new realignments to meet the Chinese challenge effectively. Fighting the Chinese narratives and myths is one ground which offers a larger and effective meeting ground to the world community.

Author Brief Bio: Shri Vijay Kranti is a senior journalist, Tibetologist and Chairman, Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement – CHASE

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1911_Revolution#cite_note-xb1-2

[1] “Tibet Brief 20/20”, Outskirts Press Inc (ISBN: 978-1-9772-3281-6) p-11-12

[1] Text of Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 (H.R.4331)    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/4331  This bill was passed on January 28, 2020 by the US House of Representatives by a vote of 392–22. It got approval of the US Congress on December 21, 2020. On December 27, 2020 President Donald Trump signed into a law.

[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/533/text?s=1&r=70   U.S. Congress bill Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act (H.R. 533)

[1] https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3145326/decoding-deliberate-ambiguity-chinas-expanding-core-interests   Decoding the deliberate ambiguity of China’s expanding core interests .  Published: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST 4:11pm, 17 Aug, 2021

[1] Text of Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 (H.R.4331)    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/4331  This bill was passed on January 28, 2020 by the US House of Representatives by a vote of 392–22. It got approval of the US Congress on December 21, 2020. On December 27, 2020 President Donald Trump signed into a law

[1]  https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1155/text The US Congress Bill (H.R. 1155) titled “Uyghur forced Labor Prevention Act” passed by Senate on 22 Dec. 2021

[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/533/text?s=1&r=70   U.S. Congress bill Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act (H.R. 533)

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