Outcome of the Recent Sino-Indian Summit
Tibetan Review, February 1992
The outcome of the Li Peng-Narasimha Rao summit is a warning
that the concepts directing Indian policy towards China
require drastic change. Our main objective should have been
to secure Chinese understanding of matters relating to
Indian national security. The Ministry of External Affairs
went wrong on both the perception of Chinese attitudes and
in its judgement of China’s sensitivity on Indo-Pakistan
issues. The chain of errors started with India’s failure to
challenge the Chinese interpretation of the Sino-Indian
conflict, which the Chinese insisted was the result of
Western imperialism, and not due to the bad faith of the
Mao-Chou regime. One of the unfortunate features of the
negotiations has been that semantic gobbledygook was used to
cover up the enormous military presence of China in Tibet.
The Chinese did not show any genuine spirit of
give-and-take. There is simply no way in which India can
ignore the strategic location of Tibet as the heart of Asia,
and as long as it remains the location of bombers and
missiles targeted at our country, there can be no real
agreement between the two biggest countries of Asia. The
Dalai Lama’s five-point proposal provides a fresh starting
point, and India should have had no hesitation in
recommending it to the Chinese.
The joint communiqué fails to reflect India’s interests and
it is clear that Mr. Li Peng has put us on the wrong track
by a gross oversimplification of the strategic issues
between the two countries. We should take a look at the
Chinese negotiations with the Russians. Peking insisted on
several preconditions and one of these was the
demilitarization of Mongolia. What is sauce for the goose
is also sauce for the gander. Tibet is central to the
Sino-India conflict, and the Chinese have not made a single
good faith gesture to India on this score. Instead, they
are continuing hostility and repression against Tibetans and
have also demanded that India emulate their example in
suppressing the freedom struggle of the Tibetan exiles. Mr.
Narsimha Rao has paid an enormous price for getting the
Chinese to agree to and sanctify the joint communiqué. He
has placed India on the diplomatic defensive and allowed the
Chinese to promote both their political and military
objectives. The military mobilization of the Chinese in
Tibet will continue unimpeded and will entail increasing use
of the Chinese armed forces for different contingencies. It
is not realistic to expect the Chinese to work for any real
disarmament or confidence building. The Indian side did not
show any seriousness of purpose in the area of human
rights. They missed the opportunity to tell the Chinese
that human rights in Tibet and democratic standards in China
are interlinked. There was no frank discussion of
outstanding differences and in particular India failed to
demand clearly of the Chinese that they abandon their
support to Pakistan-based terrorism against India.
The national reputation of India and the credibility of our
foreign policy have been sacrificed to political expediency
and appeasement. The summit has been an unmitigated
disaster for India and has shown up Mr. Narsimha Rao and Mr.
Madhav Singh Solanki as having not learnt from the
negotiating history between India and China before the 1962
Although it is worrisome and regrettable that the Indian
negotiators played their role in such a hamhanded manner, it
is necessary to remind the nation that today India’s
international position is stronger than that of China. We
should draw the correct lesson from the summit fiasco.
There is no quick panacea for India’s problems with China.
India has no choice but to pave the way to coexistence and
genuine normalization with China by ensuring the
demilitarization of Tibet. What is happening in Tibet is a
reflection of the emerging situation in the rest of the
communist world, and the Chinese have no choice but to
eventually accept the will and choice of the Tibetan
people. Their attempt during the Sino-Indian summit to
isolate the Tibetan community-in-exile from political action
will only end in failure. The police repression during Mr.
Li Peng’s visit has only strengthened Tibetan identity and
deepened their consciousness of the freedom struggle. It
has also helped to strengthen the bonds between Indians and
Tibetans. The foremost priority is now to bring together
Indians across the political spectrum in order to project
effectively free Tibet’s message to the outside world.
The people of India have confidence in the future of Tibet
and have faith in the goals for which His Holiness the Dalai
Lama and the Tibetan community-in-exile have been striving.
Mr. Li Peng’s visit has strengthened our resolve to build a
national consensus for the decolonization of Tibet. It is
in India’s interest to create a new atmosphere of genuine
peace with China – not a “cold peace” which condones
genocide and militarization of Tibet.