South Asia and Beyond

‘India Walked Away From Tibet, Not Looking Back’

NEW DELHI: Sixty years of China’s occupation has not diminished the Tibetan desire for freedom, says renowned author and scholar on Tibet affairs Claude Arpi. In a skype chat with StratNews Global’s Surya Gangadharan on Books Corner, Arpi talked about thte fourth volume of his Tibet series titled The End of An Era: India Exits Tibet. It covers the crucial period from 1947 to 1962, when China forced the closure of India’s consulate in Lhasa and the trade agencies in Yatung, Gyatse and Gartok. It ended the centuries old relationship between Tibet and India, putting an end to bonding that enriched the two peoples. Why India complied to the Chinese demand without any resistance is not clear. It appears the Indian leadership at that time saw no purpose in resisting although there were voices to the contrary, some even advocating a strong Indian response in areas like the Chumbi Valley, to counter China’s moves. But to no avail. The political leadership would have have nothing to do with it. So India walked away from Tibet without a backward glance. In the current standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, Arpi believes India is finally showing spine and a refusal to tolerate any more “incremental nibbling” by Beijing. How this will end is hard to say. Arpi notes that coercion is China’s way and it may prefer to avoid armed conflict. But China may have lost face in this standoff, more to the point, Xi Jinping may have, with unpredictable consequences for the future.

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel