October 6, 2010
On the 4th of October, Nepalese authorities seized the ballots of Tibetan refugees voting in Kathmandu to select candidates for next year’s Tibetan government-in-exile general elections. As Nepal is itself in the midst of a powerful political crisis, its authorities are loath to antagonise either India or China on the Tibet issue.
The approximately 120,000-strong Tibetan diaspora lives mostly in India. The so-called capital of the exiled Dalai Lama is in the north, in Dharamsala. Other Tibetans live in the southern state of Karnataka, and about 20,000 reside in Nepal. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 and until 1971 was financed directly by the CIA and the US Congress. Since the 1980’s, he has been raising funds privately, spearheading a worldwide PR campaign to raise awareness of the Tibetan issue.
Dr. A. Tom Grunfeld, an American expert on Tibet and Chinese history, contends that US support for the Tibetan cause has made life much harder for the Tibetans still living in their native province, whilst increasing tensions in Asia and greatly damaging diplomatic relations between India and China.
The Melbourne-based The Age claims that the State Department continues to give the Dalai Lama financial support to this day through its refugee program, which goes to his so-called government-in-exile (in reality merely a pressure group). During the Clinton and Bush administrations, the State Department was mandated to assiduously cultivate India with a view to use it later on against its presumed foe, China. The Bush administration went as far as to unilaterally waive all sanctions following India’s nuclear program revelations.
Even reputable publications like The Economist try to accredit the idea that in only a few years from now, presumably with Anglo-Saxon assistance, India will overtake China as the fastest-growing economy in Asia…
The EU officials and parliamentarians should refuse to be dragged into such geopolitical scenarios, that only make life difficult for Tibetan citizens and indirectly for the Nepalese. Tibet does need further investments and infrastructure, more schools, hospitals and agricultural machinery. To be sure, a religious leader like the Dalai Lama is unsuitable as a “champion of democracy”. Abandoning for good the Bush agenda and geostrategic scenarios which antagonise two rising economic superstars of Asia was initially the intention of the Obama administration. As matters now stand, however, this seems to have petered out under the influence of “China hawks” in Washington.
(sources: Asia Times, Hindustan Times, The Economist, The Age, Foreign Policy in Focus – A. Tom Grunfeld)