China’s President visits Tibet

  • IASbaba
  • July 26, 2021
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  • GS-2: India and its neighborhood- relations. 

China’s President visits Tibet

In news China’s President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese leader in many years to visit Tibet as well as its southeastern border region with India.

Important places that he visited

  • He landed at the airport in Nyingchi, located near the border with India’s Arunachal Pradesh. 
  • He visited Nyang river bridge to inspect the Yarlung Zangbo river/Brahmaputra river
  • He also visited Nyingchi’s railway station to inspect the newly built Sichuan-Tibet railway.  
  • He visited the Potala Palace — the traditional home of the Dalai Lamas — and Drepung monastery.

Do you know?

  • The Lhasa-Nyingchi rail is one among several major infrastructure projects recently completed in Tibet’s southern and southeastern counties near the Arunachal border. 
  • Last month, China completed construction of a strategically significant highway through the Grand Canyon of the Yarlung Zangbo river, the “second significant passageway” to Medog county that borders Arunachal.

Tibet and China: Background

  • Tibet at various points of time in History has remained autonomous & also under the reign of Chinese rule.
  • Tibet had traditionally served as a buffer zone between India and China.
  • In the wake of independence from British Colonial rule, China sent in thousands of troops to enforce its claim on the region in 1950. 
  • With Indian support, Tibetan delegates signed 17 point agreement in May 1951 recognizing PRC sovereignty but guaranteeing that the existing political and social system of Tibet would continue (autonomy & non-interference in internal affairs)
  • But the agreement was never honoured by China. Also, China was accused of suppressing cultural and religious freedom in Tibet, which forced Tibetans to rise up against the Chinese authority.
  • Besides, the agreement has been rejected by the Dalai Lama ( Politico-Spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhists), who said the Communist Party had both forced it on Tibet and subsequently violated its commitments, leading him to eventually flee to India in exile in 1959.
  • Chinese government denies the accusations and says Tibet has developed considerably under its rule.
  • In a nutshell, Tibetans wants autonomy while Chinese want complete authority over it.

What is the background of India’s Tibet Policy?

  • For centuries, Tibet was India’s actual neighbour, as most of India’s boundaries is with the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and not the rest of China.
  • In 1914, Tibetan representatives, along with the Chinese signed the Simla convention that delineated boundaries.
  • After China’s full accession of Tibet in 1950, China rejected the convention and the McMahon line.
  • In 1954, India signed an agreement with China, agreeing to recognize Tibet as “Tibet region of China”.
  • In 1959, following the Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama and many of his followers fled to India.
  • Former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru gave him and Tibetan refugees shelter, and helped in setting up the Tibetan government in exile. 
    • This led to suspicion among Chinese that India is trying to meddle in its internal affairs by giving refuge to Dalai Lama. This still remain an area of distrust between India and China.
  • The official Indian policy is that the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader of Tibet, and the Tibetan community in India, with more than a lakh exiles, is not allowed to undertake any political activity.

Connecting the dots:

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