India continues to secretly support separatist activities in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) through exiled Tibetans while publicly maintaining a ‘one China policy’, state media said on Monday, adding that this contradiction in New Delhi’s policy was harming its relations with Beijing.
India’s policy towards the exiled Tibetans in the country under the leadership of the Dalai Lama might have changed from comprehensive to selective support, but their presence on Indian soil could also eventually harm the country’s own stability, Xiao Jie, a researcher at the China Tibetology Research Centre warned in an opinion piece in the state-run Global Times newspaper on Monday.
More than 40 ethnic Tibetans have self-immolated themselves in the past one year demanding political freedom and the return of Dalai Lama to China.
China has responded by tightening security and blaming India-based Tibetans for fanning separatism.
Tracing the history of India’s policy towards Tibetans, Xiao argued that “India carried out a two-track policy on the Tibetan issue” after the two countries restored ambassadorial relations in 1976.
“On one hand, publicly, India didn’t recognize the ‘Tibetan government in exile’ and opposed Tibetan separatist forces. Former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited China in this period.
“According the talks between the two sides, India has recognized that the area known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region is part of the People’s Republic of China. India will not allow anti-China political activities by Tibetan exiles. But on the other hand, India still secretly supports or indulges separatist activities,” Xiao wrote.
“As the only great power that borders China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, India has always been the largest host of exiled Tibetans.
“India’s policy toward the 100,000 or so Tibetans on its territory, both the separatist political group led by the Dalai Lama and ordinary Tibetans focusing on their daily lives, has played a large role in Sino-Indian relations,” the article said.
India can exert pressure on China merely through indulging the activities of exiled Tibetans.
However, exiled Tibetans may in the longer term be a heavy burden to Indian society.
Xiao wrote that exiled Tibetans may even become a hidden danger to India’s own stability in future.
“The separatist activities of exiled Tibetans will threaten regional security and China-India relations. The “diplomatic bonus” brought by exiled Tibetans is decreasing, whereas the benefits of cooperation between China and India is growing.”