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09/04/18 | 13 h 39 min par Fabrice Drouelle

FRANCE INTER : « L’histoire du chemin de l’exil du dalaï-lama » par Fabrice Drouelle dans Affaires Sensibles

  avec Fabrice Drouelle et Olivier Weber

17 mars 1959 : La fuite du dalaï-lama

ECOUTER L’ÉMISSION

L’histoire du chemin de l’exil du dalaï-lama. Au moment d’aborder un sujet sur le Tibet, la même question, depuis cinquante ans, revient : de quel Tibet parle-t-on ? Invité Olivier Weber, écrivain et grand reporter, auteur du livre Le Tibet est-il une cause perdue ?

7 septembre 1959 : Le 14ème dalaï-lama, Tenzin Gyatso, souverain spirituel et temporel du Tibet, arrive à Delhi, lors de sa première visite dans la capitale indienne depuis qu’il a demandé l’asile. © Getty / Central Press

De quel Tibet parle-t-on ?

Celui que représentent les Tibétains en exil, réfugiés et installés dans le nord-ouest de l’Inde ? Le Tibet définit dans le cadre de la République populaire de Chine ? Le Tibet comme entité géographique ? Comme espace culturel, étendue d’une civilisation ? Le Tibet espéré par les Tibétains ou le Tibet menacé par la mainmise chinoise ?

Ce flou autour du Tibet a une date de naissance : le 17 mars 1959. Ce jour-là, Tenzin Gyatso, le quatorzième dalaï-lama, chef spirituel et temporel du Tibet, territoire sous contrôle de la Chine communiste depuis neuf ans, prend la décision de fuir son palais de Lhassa, la capitale, pour rejoindre l’Inde. Une longue marche vers l’exil, qui, derrière cette figure tutélaire incarne celui de tout un peuple.

Quels sont les événements qui ont conduit à cette fuite ? Comment s’est déroulée cette longue marche ? Derrière l’image de compassion et de paix qu’incarnent les vertus bouddhiques, comment s’est organisée la lutte pour l’indépendance du Tibet ? De quelle manière le dalaï-lama s’est-il retrouvé confronté à ses devoirs de chef spirituel et de chef d’État ? Enfin, comment, ces quelques jours de 1959, ont fait basculé le Tibet dans une situation toujours d’actualité ?

Invité Olivier Weber

Olivier Weber est écrivain, grand reporter, prix Albert Londres, président du prix Joseph Kessel, ancien ambassadeur de France, il est l’auteur entre-autres du livre Le Tibet est-il une cause perdue, publié en 2008 chez Larousse

Ressources

·         ·         La Nouvelle Histoire du Tibet de Gilles Van Grasdorff (Gallimard 2006)

·         ·         Le Tibet : une civilisation brisée de Françoise Pommaret (Gallimard 2003)

·         ·         Claude B Levenson Tibet : La question qui dérange(Albin Michel 2008)

·         ·         + Claude B Levenson La Chine envahit le Tibet 1949-1959, la mémoire du siècle (Editions Complexe 1995)

·         ·         + Claude B Levenson  Tibet, otage de la Chine (Piquier 2002)

·         ·         La Longue marche du Dalaï Lama, rencontre avec Ph. Flandrin, Ed du Rocher 2012

·         ·         Une histoire du Tibet : rencontre avec le Dalaï Lama de Thomas Laird (Plon 2007)

·         ·         Paroles de tibétaines Ann Riquier, Plon 1998

·         ·         Tibet, Tibet : une hsitoire personnelle d’un pays perduPatrick French , Albin Michel 2005

·         ·         Guerriers du Bouddha : une histoire de l’invasion du Tibet par La Chaine (Mickael Dunham actes sud 2007)

·         ·         Tibet, le pays sacrifié de Claude Arpi (Calmann levy 2000)

·         ·         Tibet mort ou vif de Pierre Antoine Donnet (préface Elisabeth Badinter) Gallimard 1990

Les documentaires …

·         ·         Invasion Chine au Tibet 59

·         ·         La vie du Dalai Lama Une vie après l’autre  [Arte]

 



17 mars 1959 La fuite du dalaï-lama

ECOUTER L’ÉMISSION

L’histoire du chemin de l’exil du dalaï-lama. Au moment d’aborder un sujet sur le Tibet, la même question, depuis cinquante ans, revient : de quel Tibet parle-t-on ? Invité Olivier Weber, écrivain et grand reporter, auteur du livre Le Tibet est-il une cause perdue ?

7 septembre 1959 : Le 14ème dalaï-lama, Tenzin Gyatso, souverain spirituel et temporel du Tibet, arrive à Delhi, lors de sa première visite dans la capitale indienne depuis qu’il a demandé l’asile. © Getty / Central Press

De quel Tibet parle-t-on ?

Celui que représentent les Tibétains en exil, réfugiés et installés dans le nord-ouest de l’Inde ? Le Tibet définit dans le cadre de la République populaire de Chine ? Le Tibet comme entité géographique ? Comme espace culturel, étendue d’une civilisation ? Le Tibet espéré par les Tibétains ou le Tibet menacé par la mainmise chinoise ?

Ce flou autour du Tibet a une date de naissance : le 17 mars 1959. Ce jour-là, Tenzin Gyatso, le quatorzième dalaï-lama, chef spirituel et temporel du Tibet, territoire sous contrôle de la Chine communiste depuis neuf ans, prend la décision de fuir son palais de Lhassa, la capitale, pour rejoindre l’Inde. Une longue marche vers l’exil, qui, derrière cette figure tutélaire incarne celui de tout un peuple.

Quels sont les événements qui ont conduit à cette fuite ? Comment s’est déroulée cette longue marche ? Derrière l’image de compassion et de paix qu’incarnent les vertus bouddhiques, comment s’est organisée la lutte pour l’indépendance du Tibet ? De quelle manière le dalaï-lama s’est-il retrouvé confronté à ses devoirs de chef spirituel et de chef d’État ? Enfin, comment, ces quelques jours de 1959, ont fait basculé le Tibet dans une situation toujours d’actualité ?

Invité Olivier Weber

Olivier Weber est écrivain, grand reporter, prix Albert Londres, président du prix Joseph Kessel, ancien ambassadeur de France, il est l’auteur entre-autres du livre Le Tibet est-il une cause perdue, publié en 2008 chez Larousse

Ressources

·         ·         La Nouvelle Histoire du Tibet de Gilles Van Grasdorff (Gallimard 2006)

·         ·         Le Tibet : une civilisation brisée de Françoise Pommaret (Gallimard 2003)

·         ·         Claude B Levenson Tibet : La question qui dérange(Albin Michel 2008)

·         ·         + Claude B Levenson La Chine envahit le Tibet 1949-1959, la mémoire du siècle (Editions Complexe 1995)

·         ·         + Claude B Levenson  Tibet, otage de la Chine (Piquier 2002)

·         ·         La Longue marche du Dalaï Lama, rencontre avec Ph. Flandrin, Ed du Rocher 2012

·         ·         Une histoire du Tibet : rencontre avec le Dalaï Lama de Thomas Laird (Plon 2007)

·         ·         Paroles de tibétaines Ann Riquier, Plon 1998

·         ·         Tibet, Tibet : une hsitoire personnelle d’un pays perduPatrick French , Albin Michel 2005

·         ·         Guerriers du Bouddha : une histoire de l’invasion du Tibet par La Chaine (Mickael Dunham actes sud 2007)

·         ·         Tibet, le pays sacrifié de Claude Arpi (Calmann levy 2000)

·         ·         Tibet mort ou vif de Pierre Antoine Donnet (préface Elisabeth Badinter) Gallimard 1990

Les documentaires …

·         ·         Invasion Chine au Tibet 59

·         ·         La vie du Dalai Lama Une vie après l’autre  [Arte]

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Dalai Lama crosses the Indian border – rare documents

On the occasion of the 59th anniversary of the arrival of the Dalai Lama in India, I have posted on my website a very large collection of historical documents related to the flight of the Tibetan leader.
Click here to consult them.
Of particular interest, the reports of the Political Officer, Har Mander Singh about his first encounters with the Dalai Lama and his Cabinet ministers.
Some words are unfortunately missing in the file which seems to be attacked by white ants.
The file is from the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

Incidentally, an account based on Chinese Military Intelligence was recently published: The 1959 Tibetan Uprising Documents: The Chinese Army Documents (China Secrets Book 16) Kindle Edition 
It gave another view on the escape of the Dalai Lama to India.
Supposing that the assertion in this book is right, it is also very much possible that the Dalai Lama and his entourage did not know that Mao had ordered “Let him go, if he wants to go.”
The fact that the Dalai Lama ‘crossed the Himalaya under permanent danger of being caught or even killed by the Chinese’, can’t be doubted.
The author of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising Documents himself admits that Mao would have changed his mind on March 17, 1959 and asked the PLA to stop the Tibetan leader.
Here are an extract of the 1959 Documents.

Misjudgment on the Escape of the Dalai Lama
Another legend related to the 1959 Tibetan uprising is the ‘escape’ of the Dalai Lama to India. Supposedly he managed to barely get away from advancing Chinese army units and crossed the Himalaya under permanent danger of being caught or even killed by the Chinese.
This rather romantic legend is disproved for many years. At least by the 1990s when new Chinese archive material became available it became clear that it was Mao himself who instructed the Tibet Military District « To let him go (over the border with India) if he wants to go. » Mao issued this order on March 12. He seems to have changed his mind somewhat on March 17 and asked the army in Lhasa to stop him, but then it was too late. After receiving this surprising message, the high commanders of the Tibet Military District just decided to do nothing about it. [A good description of those events are in the back published by the Harvard University Press in 2016 and written by Jianglin Li with the title Tibet in Agony, Lhasa 1959, pages 216 to 225.]
Looking at all the original papers available to this author, there is no indication for a search or hunt after the Dalai Lama by any Chinese unit. Units like those stationed in Tsetang and located between Lhasa and the Indian border never received orders to go out and search for the Dalai Lama.
Another option would have been to send those Chinese soldiers stationed in Shigatse and Yadong [Yatung] in the direction of Southern Tibet to cut-off his escape route. Those garrisons just stayed in the same locations during March. The ultimate option would have been the use of paratroopers to block the main mountain passes. In the end, nothing was done, and Mao was not pushing for action.

Accompanied by an Assam Rifles’ escort

More interesting is the first report of the Dalai Lama’s arrival in India

Report on the entry of His Holiness the Dalai Lama into India.
Phase I- Chuthangmu to Lumla

April 5, 1959

On the 27th March, 1959, Shri TS Murthy, Assistant Political Officer (APO) Tawang, received instructions about the possibility of the Dalai Lama seeking entry into India. He reached Chuthangmu to receive the party at 09:00 hours on the 31st March, 1959.
The advance party of the Dalai Lama under a comparatively junior officer had already reached Chuthangmu on the 29th March. They stated that the main party consisting of the Dalai Lama, his family, ministers and tutors were expected to enter our territory at 14:00 hours on the 31st March, that there was no sign of the Chinese pursuit and that the party was bringing a small number of porters and would be needing many more from our area.
At 1400 hours on the 31st March, the Dalai Lama and his party reached Kenze Mane [Khenzimane] which demarcates the frontier in Chuthangmu area. His holiness was riding a yak and was received by the Assistant Political Officer, Tawang. They proceeded to the checkpost without halting at the frontier.
Dronyer Chhempu [Chenpo or Lord Chamberlain], Personal Assistant to the Dalai Lama met the Assistant Political Officer in the evening and it was agreed that all porters brought by the party from Tibet would be sent back and that porterage arrangements thereafter would be made by us. It was also agreed that all pistols and revolvers, except those in possession of the Dalai Lama, his family and ministers (excluding their servants), and all rifles would be handed over to us for safe custody and that these could be collected at the frontier by those members of the body guard who were to return to Tibet after escorting the Dalai Lama to the plains or that alternatively, we would keep that in our custody and obtain disposal orders from the Government. It was further decided that a list of all Tibetan officers and of entering our territory would be prepared and handed over to the Assistant Political Officer.
The same evening, Shri Kumar, ACTO of the SIB [Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau] in Chuthangmu brought to the Assistant Political Officer [TS Murthy], the copy of letter dated the 26th March from the Dalai Lama addressed to Prime Minister [of India] and requested that it should be delivered to the addressee. He stated that two messengers from the Dalai Lama carrying the original letter had already passed through Chuthangmu on the 29th and that he had transmitted the English translation over the wireless to Shillong. He had asked the messengers to hand over the letter to him for dispatched but they had insisted on carrying it themselves and had proceeded to the plains via Bhutan.
On the morning of the 1st April, 16 rifles and 9 pistols/revolvers were handed over to us for safe custody.
The Dzongpon [District Commissioner] of Tsona [in Tibet] who arrived in the meantime was refused entry after discussion with senior Tibetan officers.
At 09:00 hours the Assistant Political Officer was summoned by the Dalai Lama. Following points were made by His Holiness during conversation with him:
The policy of the Chinese was becoming increasingly anti-religious; the masses of Tibet were restive and he was no longer able to make them put up with the Chinese rule; the Chinese had attempted to endanger his person; Tibet should be free; his people would fight to win their freedom; he was confident that India’s sympathies are with the Tibetans; the seat of his Government had shifted from Lhasa to Ulgelthinse in Lhuntse Dzong and the Government of India should be informed of this very early.
At about 1800 hours, Lobsang [one word missing, probably, Lobsang Samten, brother of…] of the Dalai Lama, reached Chuthangmu and was [one word missing].
The party moved to Gorsam Chorten.
At 1500 hours, the Dalai Lama called the Assistant Political Officer and wanted to know if he had received any news of international developments in regard to his escape, especially the line adopted by India, the UK and the USA in this regard.
The Assistant Political Officer said that he had no information.
On the following day the party moved to Shakti and on 3.4.59 it reached Lumla.

Sd/-Har Mander Singh
Political Officer
April 5, 1959

Relaxing on the way…

Here is another document related to the first encounter between the PO and the Tibetan leader

Top Secret

SUMMARY OF DISCUSSION WITH SENIOR TIBETAN OFFICERS
AT LUMLA

APRIL 3, 1959.

Lyou Hsia [Liushar] Thubten, Foreign Minister, Kungo Shase [Shashur Shape], Minister and Chichyap Khempu [Kempo], Secretary to the Dalai Lama came to see me soon after their arrival in Lumla. It was meant to be a social gathering but the Chapes [Shapes] spoke about some important matters while they were with me. Shri [TS] Murty, Assistant Political Officer, Tawang, was also present.

2. After the usual formalities the Foreign Minister briefly recounted the circumstances under which the Dalai Lama was forced to leave Tibet. He said that the relations between China and accepted as a spiritual leader by the Chinese Emperors. There was exchange of visits between the leaders of the two countries which brought them together. The Government of Tibet was, however, in possession of documents refuting Chinese claim of suzerainty over them and in support of theirs being an independent country. In recent past they had endeavoured to regulate their relationship scrupulously on the basis of the 17 point Treaty with China. The attitude of the Chinese after their “peaceful liberation of Tibet” had become increasingly anti-religious. For example, in order to popularize communism they had circulated a story in a periodical issued from Thachido, [Dartsedo or Kanding in Chinese] a town on Sino-Tibetan border, that Prince Sidhartha was forced to leave his kingdom because of the popular feeling against kingship and that he had attained ‘Nirvana’ because he had ultimately realized that peoples’ will was more important than that of the kings.

3. The Dalai Lama himself felt that they should work in and harmony with the Chinese. Indeed during his visit to India was advised by the Indian Prime Minister himself to cooperate with the Chinese in the interest of his country. In spite of [word missing] effort to accommodate the Chinese viewpoint, the Chinese interfere in the religious affairs of the Tibetans had [word missing]. They had desecrated several monasteries in Kham Province and had also killed several incarnate Lamas.

4. On the 10th March, the Dalai Lama was invited to attend cultural show in the Chinese area. The people came to know of this invitation and feared that it may be an attempt to remove the Dalai Lama from the scene or exert undue pressure on him. The news spread in Lhasa City and soon a large crowd gathered around the palace and prevented him from attending the Chinese function.

5. On the 11th, a procession of women went to the office of the Consul General, India and asked him to intervene on their behalf with the Chinese. They made a similar request to the Nepalese Consul General also. Their main demand was that the news about the Chinese interference in the religious affairs of the Tibetans and of their attempt to remove the Dalai Lama from Lhasa should be given publicity in the world press.

6. This kind of unrest continued for seven days. At 4 p.m. Lhasa time, on the 17th, the Chinese fired two mortar shells which fell only eighty yards short of the [word missing]. This convinced the Kashag that the Dalai Lama’s life [was endangered] and, therefore, they persuaded him to escape from [the Norbulinka] at 10 p.m. the same night with the Dalai Lama dress [word missing] clothes.

7. They had been listening [word missing] news ever since and had also been getting information through their sources. According to their information, the Chinese came to know of the Dalai Lama’s escape on the 19th March and shelled the Potala, the summer palace and the Gompa at Chakpori on the 20th March.

8. The Dalai Lama’s party escaped via the Southern route. There was a Chinese garrison of about 600 at Tsethang. They were surrounded by the rebel troops and Tibetan Government forces and could not, therefore, interfere with the movement of the party. On reaching Ulgelthinse in Lhuntse Dzong, they established the seat of the exile Government there temporarily on the 26th March. For the present, the Government would be run by the lay and monk commissioners of Southern Tibet known as Lhojes. They had sent instructions to Lhasa that all Government officers and records should be moved to this place.

9. Except for Tsedang there were no Chinese in Southern Tibet.

10. After leaving Ulgelthinse they spotted an aircraft flying over them near Tsona and feared that their party might be bombed but fortunately they were able to reach the Indian frontier without incident.

11. They reached the frontier at 2 p.m. on the 31st March and were received by Shri [TS] Murty, Assistant Political Officer, who brought them to Chuthangmu. They had felt very relieved after entering Indian territory.

12. They had heard the Chinese announcement that the Dalai Lama was forced to escape on the advice of 18 officers who were accompanying him and that these officers had been declared traitors. It was quite obvious, therefore, that they had no place in Communist Tibet.

13. They were quite prepared to negotiate with the Chinese for their return to Tibet and would welcome India’s good offices in this direction. They intended, however, to insist on complete [word missing] for Tibet and would continue their fight till their country was liberated.

14. I said that while we wanted friendship with all countries including China, we had much closer cultural and religious ties with Tibet and were, therefore, happy to receive them in our territory. I also said that our country’s good offices could be effective only if opposing parties had faith in our impartiality. It was, therefore, essential that no attempt should be made by bands of Khampas or Tibetan Government troops to violate the frontier. I said that I shall be grateful if they could suitably pass this on to the correct quarters. Our Government was, however, always prepared to grant asylum on humanitarian considerations and a case was already on record where we had brought the family of a favour Khmpa rebel to Tawang for medical treatment on these very considerations.

15. We briefly discussed the future programme of the party. The Foreign Minister indicated that they might like to stay upto ten days in Tawang. I explained briefly the disadvantages of their prolonged stay in Tawang and said that we could perhaps make them more comfortable in Bomdi La. I made it clear, however that we were prepared to accede to the Dalai Lama’s wishes in the [word missing]. The Foreign Minister said that it would be possible to cut down [word missing] Tawang to about three days.

16. I also said that we shall provide the facilities for travel beyond Tawang to all persons [word missing] the Dalai Lama but there was danger that stray persons escaping from Tibet may take this opportunity and come in along with the main party. It was, therefore, important that the list of persons authenticated by the party should be as comprehensive and accurate as it was possible to make it. The Foreign Minister agreed to this suggestion.

Sd/- Har Mander Singh
Political Officer
April 3, 1959.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

China’s inroads near the Indian borders

The Indian side of the border
On the way to Takshing…

My article China’s inroads near the Indian borders appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer

Here is the link…

Relaxing PAP scheme is a good idea but as a modern state we must use electronic means to control visitors to India’s frontiers even as we promote border tourism

The Union Government is thinking of relaxing the Protected Area Permit (PAP) scheme to enable foreign tourists visit border areas. This is half good news. Why half? Simply because after the Government starts to ‘think’, results often takes months or years to materialise. Let us hope that it will be done soon.
Apparently, the move was triggered by requests from border States of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Manipur as well as the Union Tourism Ministry. It was announced by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who, as an elected Lok Sabha member from Arunachal Pradesh, has long been aware of the issue. Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between the ‘Inner line’ and the International Border of the state are considered to be a ‘Protected Area’.
Responding to a tweet by Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Rijiju announced the decision about the PAP regime which will allow foreigners to visit the ‘paradise on earth’; he was referring to Shungetser lake north of Tawang, often known as ‘Madhuri Lake’, because the Bollywood actress shot Koyla, also staring Shah Rukh Khan, in the ‘idyllic’ spot.
It is a pity that the Government could not, at the same time, do away with the ‘Inner line’ permit system (for Indian nationals) once and for all. At a time when Artificial Intelligence (AI) has started permeating our lives, the Government is still attached to this 19th century-old scheme which has no place in a modern state. If required, the authorities could find other ‘electronic’ means to control visitors in the Indian frontiers. Hopefully, this would be the next bold decision.
‘Relaxing’ the PAP is nonetheless good for India; after all, these areas are part of the Indian territory and there is no reason why a discriminating ‘Philosophy of North-East Frontier Agency’ put in place by Nehru and his ‘tribal’ advisor Verrier Edwin, should remain in existence. During the 20th century, it has not often protected the local population, while more often alienated them from the main stream of Indian society.
It is also a positive development because happenings on the other side of the border show extremely worrying trends. China is fast developing its frontiers, trying to woo the Tibetan locals, often akin to the Indian populations on the other side of the border.

Yume, the Tibetan side of the border

A few weeks ago, The Tibet Dailyasserted, “making the border villages prosperous and well-off is the top priority of the poverty alleviation campaign.” Beijing has, however, a second objective that is to build-up the border defenses against India. With tourism, it plans to kill two birds in one go.
During the recently-concluded National People’s Congress (NPC), Phurbu Dhondup, a deputy and Governor of Lhoka affirmed that there were 96 such border villages in Lhoka Prefecture alone; the prefecture is north of Bhutan and Tawang district.
Dhondup asserted that the Provinces of Hunan, Hubei and Anhui would help Lhoka “make the dramatic transition” from poor border villages to prosperous ones with electricity, first rate access roads, irrigation systems and potable water. The participation of the ‘rich’ Provinces of China in the scheme is an important factor.
Out of the 17-member Tibetan delegation at the NPC, four members were from the borders with India. One Kesang Dikyi, who comes from Metok, north of Tuting sector of Arunachal, which recently witnessed a border intrusion (with Chinese excavators), is a primary school teacher. During a Press conference in Beijing, she remarked: “Our school building was very poor; teachers and students had to pick grass to cover the roof. The grass was taller than we were, so when we were walking back we’d often trip, and we often had our hands cut. If we didn’t pick the grass, rainwater would leak into the classroom.” All this has changed in the recent past.
On March 4, Xinhua announced: “Tibet will strive to make highways reach all townships and administrative villages by 2020 in a bid to boost rural development. …By 2020, all townships which meet necessary conditions and 80 per cent of administrative villages would have access to bus service.”
This includes the border villages north of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Ladakh.
According to a senior transport official of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), “road construction will help the region reduce poverty and increase the income of farmers and herders.”
In 2018, the region will launch projects to make 13 townships and more than 1,000 villages connected by asphalt or cement roads; in other words, ‘an integrated transportation system’ reaching the border with India.
The New Helmsman, Xi Jinping has articulated the dual objective to combat poverty and protect the borders. An article in China Tibet Online noted: “Through accurate identification of those requiring help, the number of poverty-stricken people has reduced by more than 500,000 in the last four years. The TAR’s Poverty Alleviation Office has gradually established a targeted poverty alleviation system, whereby the causes of poverty are analysed.”
For Beijing, tourism is the best way to tackle poverty …and to protect its borders (by buying the local population on China’s side).
A turning point was Yume. In October 2017, President Xi wrote a letter to two young Tibetans who had introduced to the Chinese President, Yume, their hamlet located north of the McMahon Line (Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh).
Soon after, The Global Times reported: “A sparsely populated township [Yume] has been connected to the state electricity grid, ending life without electricity for its 32 residents.”
The China Daily noted another development north of Arunachal: “After getting access to electricity and the construction of new roads, tea farmers and herdsmen in a village some 200 kilometers southwest of Lhasa in Tsona county founded a cooperative that provides skills training and job opportunities for villagers.” Tsona, an area now extensively developed, is the first small town in Tibet, north of Tawang district of Arunachal.
At the end of the NPC’s sessions, Beijing announced the complete withdrawal of “civilian-oriented, firefighting and frontier defence troops” from the control of the People’s Liberation Army.
What does it mean? The Global Times explained: “The withdrawal of armed police force units engaged in civilian affairs would disentangle the previous complicated chain of command.” It signifies that the PLA will only be given the responsibility of manning the border with India, without having to waste time in ‘fire-fighting’ and other tasks.
The former militia and ‘frontier forces’ will be put under the command of the local party bosses, in a way empowering the local population to man the borders.
With all these happenings on the other side of the India’s northern border, it was high time that India starts promoting border tourism, including for foreigners, and develops these areas, while keeping the environment as idyllic as possible. There is no harm in copying China once in a while.

Monday, March 26, 2018

China develops India’s borders: one stone, many birds

Tsona village, north of Tawang district

A quick review at the Chinese press related to Tibet during the last few weeks shows an extremely worrying trend for India.
While the Indian media has been concentrating on Doklam, the happenings on the other side of the border, especially north of Arunachal Pradesh are disturbing.
A few weeks ago, an article in The Tibet Daily mentioned these new developments: “Making the border villages prosperous and well-off is the top priority of the poverty alleviation campaign. »
China’s second objective is to build-up the border defenses.
It says that some 628 border villages needed to be turned into prosperous and well off administrative villages.
But let us go through some of the articles/comments.

Border Representation at the National people’s Congress
During the recently-concluded National People’s Congress (NPC), Phurbu Dhondup, a deputy and Governor of Lhoka, said there were 96 such border villages in Lhoka Prefecture alone.
He asserted that the provinces of Hunan, Hubei and Anhui would help Lhoka “make the dramatic transition » from poor border villages to prosperous ones with electricity, first rate access roads, irrigation systems and potable water.
The participation of the ‘rich’ provinces of China in the scheme is to be noted.
As earlier mentioned in this blog, Drokar (alias Choekar) has been in the news.
Other delegates from the borders with India are:

  1. Tashi Gyaltsen, a 29 year old Lhoba who worked in building village organization
  2. Mi-ma Guo-ji, (his Tibetan name is not clear), a young man who builds electricity transmission lines to villages.
  3. Kesang Dikyi who comes from Metok, north of Tuting sector of Arunachal, which recently witnessed a border intrusion (with Chinese excavators). She is a primary school teacher in a village near Metok.
    As mentioned earlier, Kelsang Dekyi was born in 1978, symbolically the beginning of an era which saw the Chinese people “relying on knowledge to change its destiny;” she grew up in Metok County “once a remote, poverty-stricken, and information-poor area.”
    Kelsang Dekyi told a press conference in Beijing: “Our school building was very poor; teachers and students had to pick grass to cover the roof. The grass was taller than we were, so when we were walking back we’d often trip, and we often had our hands cut. However, if we didn’t pick the grass, we couldn’t cover the roof, and rainwater would leak into the classroom. »

The CPPCC’s TAR delegation has a member from the border area, a Loba lady from Tsari village, east of Yume.
Let us remember that the Tsari chu (river) enters India south of Migyitun which saw the first border incident between India and China in August 1959 (Longju).
The lady cadre is called by what seems a Chinese
name, Gong-jue Qu-zhen.

All townships in Tibet to be reached
On March 4, Xinhua announces ‘Highways to reach all townships in Tibet by 2020’.
The article says: “Tibet will strive to make highways reach all townships and administrative villages by 2020 in a bid to boost rural development. …By 2020, all townships which meet necessary conditions and 80 percent of administrative villages would have access to bus service.”
This includes the border villages, north of Arunachal, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Ladakh.
According to a senior transport official of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), “road construction will help the region reduce poverty and increase the income of farmers and herders, according to the official.”
In 2018, the region will launch projects to make 13 townships and more than 1,000 villages connected by asphalt or cement roads. Rural road mileage in Tibet is currently 60,421 km, compared with 53,244 km in 2012.
In other words, ‘an integrated transportation system’.

The Dual Mission

The objective is dual, poverty alleviation and ‘protection’ of the border.
When the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Lhasa in September 1951, General Zhang Jingwu, the representative of the CPC’s Central Committee told Sumul Sinha, the head of the Indian Mission in Lhasa that the Chinese had come to Tibet for two reasons only (he spoke of ‘a dual mission’): to eliminate all imperialist influences and to improve the standard of living of the Tibetans.
Of course, there was no ‘imperialist influence’ on the Roof of the World, but poverty was there.
What is surprising is that, 66 years later, the Chinese government still speaks about fighting poverty on the Tibetan plateau.
It means a colossal failure for the Communist State.
The new Helmsman wants to rectify this.
An article in China Tibet Online recently noted: “Through the establishment of archives, and accurate identification of those requiring help, the number of poverty-stricken people has reduced by more than 500,000 in the last four years. The TAR’s Poverty Alleviation Office has gradually established a targeted poverty alleviation system, whereby the causes of poverty are analyzed and the limited special funds are used on the poor people.”
Apart from the Targeted Poverty Alleviation, the article speaks of Industry Poverty Alleviation, Education Poverty Alleviation, Tourism Poverty Alleviation, Health Poverty Alleviation, while asserting: “Tibet explores the practice of ‘the rich helping the poorer to wealth’, and uses the capable people as one of the main driving forces of poverty alleviation.”
One Tsering, deputy director of the Lhasa Poverty Alleviation Office, told the website: « these capable people have experience, skills and the mind, and also have the ability to help the poor escape poverty. With some help they are running a series of projects, which can provide the poor families with an income salary as well as a bonus and other secure incomes. The results are clear to see.”
For Beijing, tourism is perhaps the best way to alleviate poverty …and to protect the border (by buying the local population on China’s side).
And provinces have been called to the rescue to ‘invest’.
It is worrying, because there is no doubt that each investor will want a ‘return’. What does it mean for Tibet is difficult to predict.

Infrastructure development 
On March 23, VTIBET.comwrites ‘Tibet builds integrated transportation system.’
The website publishes a photo of the new roads, taken near Gongkar Lhasa Airport with the caption “expressway from Lhasa to Zedang (Tsetang in Tibetan) Township of Lhoka City.”
The article says: “In the past five years, China has been increasing the investment in infrastructure construction in Tibet Autonomous Region. An integrated transportation system based on highway, railway, aviation and pipeline has been built up to now, which provided a strong support for the economic development and prolonged stability of Tibet Autonomous Region.”
The repetition of the word ‘stability’ while speaking of the region, probably means that presently the TAR is not too ‘stable’.

How to stabilize Tibet?
By bringing millions of tourists who will bring good revenue to the local population.
How to stabilize the borders?
By bringing millions of tourists to the borders and develop the border villages

Another site en.tibetol.cn mentions the ‘New highway to link Chamdo with Tibet’s highest-altitude airport.’
It says that the construction of the Chamdo-Bamda Airport section of the National Highway 214, linking Tibet’s highest-altitude airport at an elevation of 4,334 meters to Chamdo city has started. It will greatly help to develop tourism in Eastern Tibet.
The article asserts that the distance of 120 kilometers can be presently covered in two hours; once the new highway is completed, it will take just one hour: “The highway will also facilitate communication between east Tibet and the outside.”
Some technical details are given: “The first phase is to be completed within 24 months. 21 mega bridges, 11 medium bridges, 2 tunnels and 11 cross-river bridges will be built along the 26.9 kilometers highway with a design speed of 80km/h. Tibet has already opened seven high-level roads including the Lhasa-Nyingchi road, with a total length of 660 kilometers.”
Another site, China Tibet Online notes that  ‘Tibet on fast track to facilitate travelers’.
According to Wang Songping, head of the Tourism Development Committee of Tibet: “The increasingly improved transportation infrastructure has allowed travelers to spend less time on road as they tour in Tibet.
Wang said that highways, railways and airports have improved continuously to facilitate travelers’ trips and meet their need to move fast on their way to scenic spots.
With most part of the Lhasa-Nyingchi Highway opened to traffic, “it will be more convenient for travelers to pay a visit to Nyingchi,” noted Wang.
All this infrastructure being built for ‘dual use’ (civil and military), means that ultimately, it will bring more pressure on the Indian border.

Extended tourist season
The season has been extended and winter is promoted as the best season to visit the Roof of the World.
Photos appeared on one website showing the scenery in Lhasa: “the Potala Palace is extremely beautiful after the strongest snowfall since last year’s winter arrives in Lhasa, capital city of southwest China’s Tibet.”
Note the Land of Snows, is always called ‘China’s Tibet’.
Would we write in India, ‘India’s Tamil Nadu or India’s Arunachal’?
No.
Does it mean that China is not sure if Tibet is China’s?
Beijing seems to have a serious problem here.
Other pictures show a Park in Lhasa, capital of China’s Tibet, “after the strongest snowfall since last year’s winter arrives in the evening of March 17, 2018;” another illustration pictures a child is playing in the snow.

Developing the Indian Borders
I often wrote about Yume, the hamlet north of the McMahon (Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh).
In October 2017, Chairman Xi Jinping had written a letter to two young Tibetan herders who had introduced their village to the Chinese President.
A letter from the Emperor always shows the trend in the Kingdom.

Yume village

The Global Times recently reported: « A sparsely populated township in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region has been connected to the state electricity grid, ending life without electricity for its 32 residents. »
The village is Yume.
The Global Times’article quotes the contractor, a Xining-based electric power company who worked on the project: « The 15-kilometer 10-kilovolt power line, which took five months to complete, is connected to remote Yulmed [Yume] Township in Luntse [Luntse] county, Shannan [Lhoka], via 108 electric poles over a 5,000-meter-high mountain. »
According to the tabloid, Yume (also spelt Yulmed) is located « at an average elevation of 3,650 meters above sea level and its population was once just a three-member household. Currently, it has nine households. »
It is further explained that in 2008, the local government built a small hydropower station, but the project failed to meet the increasing power demands of the 32 residents: « Due to improved living standards and growing need for electricity of the residents, power outages were frequent. »
But that is not all.

Uplifting the border villages 
The China Daily recently announced: « Investment in infrastructure in the Tibet Autonomous Region is helping to lift 628 villages along the border out of poverty. » It further asserted: « After getting access to electricity and the construction of new roads, tea farmers and herdsmen in a village some 200 kilometers southwest of Lhasa in Tsona county founded a cooperative that provides skills training and job opportunities for villagers. »
Tsona is located north of Tawang district of Arunachal.
The area has been extensively developed.
In November 2016, I wrote The Chinese tourists arrive on the Indian border. It was about the village between Tsona and the Indian border.
Now China admits: « Starting last year, more than 100 million yuan (15,263 million US dollars) has been invested in infrastructure in the village of less than 100 families as a part of a broader construction project to build model villages with moderate prosperity in the border area. The construction of well-off villages along the border is designed to advance the living and working conditions in surrounding villages. » 
The China Daily estimated that the road access rate in the area will reach 100 percent and the per capita disposable income will double by the year of 2020.

Dances in Tsona

Tsona again in the news
On March 23, China Tibet News reports, “Tibet’s border villages speed up development of rural tourism.”
The short article is accompanied by a photo showing “the beautiful border village in Tsona: “the construction of Tibet’s border moderately prosperous villages, tourism in border villages develops rapidly. Tsona County, Shannan City of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, makes great efforts to boost rural tourism, which also increases the income of local villagers.”
Again in China’s TAR!
Tsona is also been linked with Tsangyang Gyaltso, the Sixth Dalai Lama born in Urgyeling, near Tawang. He would have stayed in Tsona on his way to Lhasa to be enthroned. Every year, a Tsangyang Gyaltso Festival is being organized by the Communist authorities, who, when it is convenient, promote the Dalai Lamas.

Chumbi Valley

Danses in Yatung (Dromo)

On February 28, VTIBET.com mentions that “Dromo County held sending culture and art to villagers activities”.
Though the title is not very clear, Dromo is the Tibetan name for the Chumbi Valley, east of Sikkim.
Probably due the vicinity of Dolkam, the activities were not only ‘cultural’, a photo showed officers from People’s Court of Dromo County handing out ‘basic legal knowledge’ leaflets to villagers.
What were these ‘legal leaflets’ about is not clear?
That the entire Chumbi Valley belongs to China?
Other illustrations shows Dromo County’s folk art troupe “performing wonderful song and dance programs.”
Nothing has been published in the railway line to Yatung in Chumbi Valley recently.
China is keeping quiet about it, since the Doklam episode.

Ngari, Western Tibet
According to VTIBET.com, the prefecture of Ngari received over 660,000 visitors in 2017
The website says: « Ngari, an ancient prefecture located in West Tibet, received a total of more than 660,000 domestic and overseas visitors last year, with a year-on-year growth of 20 percent. The tourism revenue totaled about 750 million yuan, up by 10 percent over the same period last year.”
Ngari Tourism Bureau affirms “Hailed as ‘Roof of the Roof of the World’, Ngari, at an average elevation of 4,500 meters above, is the birthplace of the four major rivers in Asia. It’s the place where the Himalayas, the Gangdise, the Kunlun Mountains and Karakorum Mountains meet. …There are great mountains, beautiful lakes, vast grasslands and spectacular snow mountains in Ngari. Famous tourist landscapes, including Mapam Yumtso [Manasarovar], Kangrinpoche [Kailash], Guge Kingdom Relics [Tsaparang, Tholing], Piyang-Donggar Caves Relics, Zanda Clay Forest.”
According to Liu Qilin, deputy director of Ngari Tourism Development and Reform Commission: “In 2017, more than 12,000 farmers and herdsmen in Ngari participated in tourism industry, creating income of 153 million yuan, and promoting tourism development of 11 poor villages with tourism development conditions.”
Further, it is said that 12 new tourism projects were built in Ngari last year, with a total investment of about 11,62 million yuan, and a total of 96.6 million yuan budget was approved by the central government to invest 6 key tourism projects that were declared to the 13th Five-Year Plan.

The Pangong Lake

Pangong tso from the Indian side

The report also mentioned Pangong tso (lake), “inscribed in 50 awe-inspiring natural wonders by CNN.”
Part of the lake is in eastern Ladakh, part in Ngari: “This beautiful lake sits at an elevation of 4,350 meters. The lake and sky are both amazing shades of blue that make it become one of the must see scenes.”
The quick development of tourism in Western Tibet is bound to bring more pressure on the Indian border in Uttarakhand and Ladakh.
And this without mentioning, “the smooth progress towards the world’s highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in Tibet Autonomous Region to detect the faintest echoes resonating from the universe, a project insider disclosed.”
During the CPPCC’s 13th National Committee, Zhang Xinmin, chief scientist of the project said that the main part for the first stage of the ‘Ngari plan’, which was launched by China in March 2017 to eyeball the Big Bang cosmic waves at Ngari, is almost completed,
Zhang, a senior researcher at the Institute of High Energy Physics in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) observed that the project will start operations in 2020 and observation results will be available in 2022.
More tourists in view.

Tibet to limit visitors for ‘high quality’ tourism
On March 22, according to The Global Times, China’s Tibet “vows to control the number of visitors in the region’s scenic spots, including Mount Chomolangma, known as Mount Everest in the West.
This is what Qi Zhala (or Che Dralha), chairman of the TAR and a deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress, told the China National Radio (CNR)
Tibet will develop ‘high quality’ tourism: “The number of tourists will be strictly restricted at some scenic spots. We introduced a cap of 5,000 visitors for the Patala [Potala] Palace in summer, and we will strictly control the number of tourists to Mount Chomolangma. »
Che also admitted that “Tourism is the main channel for the opening-up of the region’s economic development and the main force to improve residents’ lives,” he added that “developing tourism must stick to the bottom line of environmental protection.”
With the winter tourism promotion scheme offers free admission to 115 major tourist attractions in the region, including the Potala Palace, from February 1 to April 30, plus discounted fares for hotels, local transport, flights and train services.

Some conclusions
In Tibet, China is pursuing a dual policy to tackle ‘poverty alleviation’ and ‘protect’ its borders (with India).
Tourism is used in the grand scale to achieve these two objectives.
The support of the ‘rich’ provinces of China is also asked for.
To develop the borders means to ‘stabilize’ the borders.
By ‘stabilizing’ the border areas, Beijing protects its borders.
Extensive ‘dual use’ (civil and military) infrastructure is built for the purpose.
This creates a worrying scenario for India.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Last Days of Tibet

Guard of honour for the Dalai Lama (in the palanquin)
by a detachment of the Maratha Light Infantry (Gyantse, December 1950)

A review of my book Tibet: The Last Months of a Free Nation, India -Tibet Relations 1947-1962, Part 1appeared in The Hindustan Times.
The review, titled The Last Days of Tibet (Two very different accounts of the end of an era make for fascinating reading), has been written by Thubten Samphel, the Director of the Tibet Policy Institute in Dharamsala.
The reviewer looks also at another book, Tibetan Caravans: Journeys from Leh to Lhasa, Abdul Wahid Radhu, Speaking Tiger publishers.
Incidentally, a few years ago, I wrote a chapter of a book on Abdul Wahid.
It was called The Life and Time of Abdul Wahid Radhu – A case of fusion of cultures 
Click here to read…

Here is the link to the review…

Claude Arpi’s book and Abdul Wahid Radhu’s work share a common thread — both are accounts of the last days of Tibet. While Arpi digs into the archives of the government of India to reconstruct the period, Radhu has witnessed the end of an era.

Arpi’s narrative reveals newly-independent India grappling with a deep diplomatic dilemma. Three years after India gained independence, Tibet lost hers. Indian policy-makers were divided into two camps on how to tackle the situation. The idealists, dominated by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s charismatic first prime minister, felt that accepting the fait accompli of Chinese occupation of Tibet was a small price to pay for a resurgent and united Asia after centuries of Western colonialism. The realists, led by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s deputy prime minister, argued that communist China was not working towards a resurgent, united Asia but towards an Asia dominated by a new China. Beijing’s invasion and occupation of Tibet was the first step towards fulfilling its expansionist goal.
Arpi has comprehensively documented this debate on China’s true intentions. Using the archives at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, he has pieced together India’s contradictory impulses in meeting China’s challenge in Tibet. On the one hand, India had deep sympathy for Tibet based on the ancient bonds of culture and a shared spiritual heritage. On the other, there was the sinking recognition that this sympathy could not be translated into military and political support because the changed geopolitical balance favoured China due to its military presence on the plateau.
Finely researched and passionately told, Claude Arpi’s new offering is the first detailed account of the internal policy debate that raged at the highest level of the new republic on formulating the most effective response to the occupation of Tibet. With the death of Sardar Patel, the idealists won the argument and Tibet’s fate was sealed when India signed the Panchsheel agreement with China, which recognized Tibet as an autonomous part of the People’s Republic.
India’s feeble response to Beijing’s occupation of Tibet was compounded by the mistakes Tibet made. Arpi recounts that instead of seeking cooperation and support from the new Indian republic, the Lhasa government in its first official communication with independent India demanded the return of Tawang. In his interview with Arpi, the Dalai Lama exclaimed in amazement,“What a wonderful government!” at Lhasa’s diplomatic ineptitude and ignorance of obligations imposed by treaties.
The issues that Arpi has explored in his massive book are ones that India will continue to grapple with in the years to come as New Delhi fine-tunes its policy towards China, that reaps the benefits of expanding trade but confronts Beijing’s political and military assertiveness.
If Tibet was isolated diplomatically, its engagement with its neighbours was active, robust and profitable. This was made so by a network of caravan trails that carried goods over vast distances infested by marauding brigands. One of these caravan routes was the one from Leh to Lhasa, a tributary of the ancient Silk Road that connected China with High Asia, Central Asia, and the West. This culture of caravanserai that radiated throughout Asia is wonderfully evoked in Tibetan Caravans, a leisurely travelogue rich in detail and sharp in observation. The travel diary was kept by the late Abdul Wahid Radhu, a cosmopolitan Ladakhi Muslim, a graduate of Aligarh University and who, in the course of his life, travelled to Tibet, China and all over northern India.
Radhu made his first caravan journey to Lhasa in 1942 when World War II engulfed Europe and the civil war in China between the Nationalist Chinese and communists was tilting in favour of Mao’s forces. Those forces would soon be in Tibet, disrupting the Radhu family’s profitable trade and with Abdul Wahid himself being caught up in the last ditch effort to salvage whatever was left of political Tibet.
Radhu begins his diary 76 years ago. “Today, 19 September 1942, the twentieth day of my life as a married man, I left my family, my wife, my aunt and sister. I left for Lhasa to learn the trade of being a merchant, supervised by my Uncle Abdul Aziz, head of the Lopchak caravan.” This was a part of the exchange of trade and courtesies between Leh and Lhasa.
Tibetan Caravans provides for the first time detailed information on the life of the Ladakhi Muslim trading community in Lhasa and the community’s interaction with Tibetans, both high and low, and the writer’s observation of the Tibetan character. Radhu observes, “Tibetans were a well-balanced people with common sense, happy, spontaneous, quick-witted, fun-loving… Certainly, Tibetans also had their faults, the most flagrant being their physical uncleanliness… also superstition, and in the upper classes, a taste for power and intrigue.”
Radhu is a nostalgic witness to the end of two eras: the way of life of the caravaneers and the demise of political Tibet.

Friday, March 23, 2018

What Emperor Xi can teach India

Metok, north of Upper Siang district of Arunachal

My article What Emperor Xi can teach India appeared in Mail Today/DailyO

Xi Jinping made it. He can now retain his seat for life.
The South China Morning Post reported: “Under the watch of a confident and relaxed President Xi Jinping, nearly 3,000 Chinese lawmakers were nearly unanimous in their approval of changes to the state constitution that included removing the term limit on the presidency.”

Chinese Constitution
The Hong Kong newspaper said that Xi, who had maintained a poker face throughout the opening day of People’s National Congress (NPC), appeared ‘much more at ease after the vote’.
Only two of the 2,964 deputies voted against the constitutional revisions; the process was over in just one hour: no debate took place, no discussion and not even canvassing. Done!
While the international press mainly noted the Emperor-for-life aspect, there is more to the recent amendments of the Chinese Constitution.
The China Daily titled: ‘Xi leading the charge on reform’.
Perhaps more than a personal determination to emulate Mao, Xi seems to want to transform China into a great power; he calls it the ‘Chinese Dream’.
Will Xi leave place for others to exist in the process is a recurrent question.
On March 5, during an interaction with the deputies from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xi elaborated his vision for the new era “a way to realize the people’s aspiration to live a better life and push forward China’s modernization.”
2018, which marks the 40th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s opening-up policy, will see a string of changes which should take China closer to ‘a moderately prosperous society in all respects’.
Xi pledged to continue deepening reform with ‘great political courage’; to move forward, the Chinese people were ready to ‘cut paths through mountains, and build bridges across rivers’, he said.
A day after Xi’s ‘promotion’, more than two dozen ministries and agencies were overhauled to give the Communist Party greater control …and more teeth.
The South China Morning remarked: “The sweeping institutional changes are part of Xi’s plan to improve the Communist Party’s governing efficiency by shaking up vested interests among agencies.”
It includes the merger of the banking and insurance regulators, a special ministry to oversee the status of military veterans and a new Discipline Commission with larger powers to tackle rampant corruption.
The nomination of a Vice-president, Xi’s friend and close collaborator, Wang Qishan, is another sign of change.
One of the not-often mentioned reforms stressed by Xi Jinping, is the deepening of the “military-civilian integration to provide impetus and support for realizing the Chinese dream and the goal to build a strong military.”
On the side of the NPC, Xi, who also Chairman of the all-powerful Central Ministry Commission (CMC) met the PLA delegation; he told them: “Implementing the strategy of military-civilian integration is a prerequisite for building integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities. »
He urged the defence forces to “promote military development featuring higher quality, efficiency, and scientific and technological levels.”

Bordering Areas
Another aspect of the reform is the development of China’s land borders (with India in particular). Not only will the military-civilian integration translate into new infrastructure on India’s northern borders, but the development will be labeled ‘infrastructure for tourism’, while being used by the PLA to reinforce its position.
A ‘democratic’ touch is being given to the process.
Soon after the conclusion of the 19th Congress in November last year, President Xi Jinping sent an answer to two young Tibetan herders who had written to him introducing their village, Yume, north of Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
Xi encouraged the sisters: “to set down roots in the border area, safeguard the Chinese territory and develop their hometown. Without the peace in the territory, there will be no peaceful lives for the millions of families. »
Drolkar and Yangzom, the two sisters, had told Xi about their experience of living in a border area; their village, Yume is not far from the remote Indian village of Takshing.

Village Saga
A letter from the Emperor was enough for Drolkar to get a seat as a NPC deputy. Drolkar’s sudden celebrity has helped her village to grow exponentially; many Tibetans from the nearby villages now want to move their homes to Yume. Villagers are building new guest accommodations to receive Han tourists, who have started pouring in. As a result the village will become wealthier …and the border more stable.
That is precisely the Emperor’s plan.
Another deputy to the NPC, Kelsang Dekyi comes from Metok, north of Tuting sector of Arunachal, which recently witnessed a border intrusion (with Chinese excavators).
Kelsang Dekyi was born in 1978, symbolically the beginning of an era which saw the Chinese people “relying on knowledge to change its destiny;” she grew up in Metok County “once a remote, poverty-stricken, and information-poor area.”
Kelsang Dekyi told a press conference in Beijing: “Our school building was very poor; teachers and students had to pick grass to cover the roof. The grass was taller than we were, so when we were walking back we’d often trip, and we often had our hands cut. However, if we didn’t pick the grass, we couldn’t cover the roof, and rainwater would leak into the classroom. »
These two appointments show the importance that Xi attaches to the border with India.
Statistics show the 75% of the NPC’s deputies are new faces, with similar stories. Will it help China to build a better China? It is not certain, because many of these nominations are just for the show.
Incidentally, would a local girl from Takshing village on the Indian side of the border, write a letter to Delhi? One can bet that it would go unnoticed by the authorities; it may not even be delivered. Still India is a democratic nation.