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* Yes, an independent Tibet is no longer feasible

About 10 years ago, I wrote in this column about the need for the world to stand with the people of Tibet and support Tibetan independence. I have had an opportunity to talk to some people from Tibet meanwhile, and their yearning for independence has not withered. Tibet continues to be eclipsed by the spread of Chinese culture.

The Dalai Lama has recently been in the news visiting Washington and providing statements to the Western press. So I thought I would revisit this topic.


Ten years is a long time, and much has happened in the world. India continues to be crippled by the insurgency in Kashmir. The U.S. has reverted to the blood-for-blood methods from the Old Testament to fight terrorism after 9/11. Islamic terrorism has spread its wings far into almost every country in the world.

The Cold War has collapsed; so has the international brotherhood of left activists and terrorists all over the world. Far from being the bully, China is standing by the U.S. to caution North Korea to go easy on nuclear weapons.

There is renewed openness in China. There are courses in American business schools on how to do business in China and how Americans should warm up to China (as if any encouragement is needed). China is the biggest manufacturing partner of the U.S.

In this changed climate, I have difficulty endorsing an independent Tibet. A weak, independent Tibet surely will be another haven for terrorists and other criminal elements. A theocratic government in Tibet is not going to be firm enough against encroachers. Even the Dalai Lama admitted that terrorism is the worst form of violence, and must be countered.

If an independent Tibet is neither desirable nor possible, what are the other options? Chinese immigration into Tibet has already made it part-Chinese; so the possibility of Tibet being part of any other country is not even worth talking about.

In the changed world after 9/11, India can no longer afford to support Tibetan independence, especially when Kashmir is burning with separatism. Therefore, the only logical choice is to follow the status quo: let Tibet be an autonomous region under China. Since business openness invites political openness eventually, one can only hope China will open up Tibet some day. Until that time, the only realistic solution now is to work with China on improving bilateral ties with India, just as the Indian government has been doing with its most recent confidence-building measures. The time has come to give up the pipe dream of Tibetan independence, and start working with the Chinese on easing tensions over Tibet.

Rajeevan Kattil is a systems manager in Detroit, MI.


* No, India’s national security itself is at stake

There are a number of reasons to oppose China’s genocide in Tibet. The decimation of a civilization; the precedent for other thugs to walk into a peaceful neighboring state and colonize it; but most of all, India’s national self-interest and security. For, through Tibet, China can try to destroy India through physical or economic warfare. To let this situation persist would be suicidal.

China knows that India is the one nation that will challenge her ambitions to become a superpower: a recent Goldman Sachs report predicts that by 2050 China, the U.S., and India will be the world’s largest economies. This is why China has installed nuclear missiles in Tibet, aimed at India. They want to contain India on all sides: through proxy Pakistan; by influencing Burma and inciting secessionists in the Northeast; by helping Maoists in Sri Lanka and Nepal plus Naxalites at home.

For the first time in history, there is no buffer state between India and China, as Tibet has been swallowed up. Chanakya’s dictum about immediate neighbors generally being enemies can be seen in full force: as soon as they had troops on India’s borders, they began using Sun Tzu tactics of indirect (and plausibly deniable) warfare through third parties.

This we have tolerated for some time, and we can take the damage: besides, aiding Islamists will rebound on China as Sinkiang’s Uighur Muslims will revolt and secede. But there is an even greater threat: this has to do with water. Thanks to the idiocy of Jawaharlal Nehru, China has control of the Tibetan headwaters of many of Asia’s major rivers: Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Mekong: an imperialist’s dream, and nobody is more imperialistic than the Chinese.

China has very poor land and even worse irrigation. Only some 15 percent of their land (including Tibet) is arable. Over time, with increasing urbanization, shrinking farmland, and the relentless march of deserts, they are heading for a food and water crisis. And their answer to this: the diversion of the Brahmaputra from Tibet to northern China!

This is, in effect, a declaration of war, as leading Tibetologist Claude Arpi wrote on For, if the Chinese succeed, they will immediately render northern India a semi desert. Gone is the food security India has so painstakingly built up. Gone is the dream of overtaking the U.S. as the biggest producer of value added agricultural products in the world. Gone is superpowerdom.

Therefore, it is critical for India to wrest Tibet from China’s clutches. Americans, trying to deny China oil, should be happy to deny China this theft of water too. They too have seen the movie Chinatown. Together, the U.S. and India must free Tibet, through means fair or foul.

Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this opinion from Bangalore, India.