BY SU TAN
According to reports, Tibetan separatists in India recently cancelled a rally and prayer meeting to be held in New Delhi in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama fleeing China. This came after the Indian government reportedly told ministers and senior officials not to attend the events because this is a “very sensitive time” for India’s relationship with China.
The note was reportedly sent out at the insistence of Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, who was once ambassador to China. New Delhi had previously defiantly allowed the Dalai Lama to take provocative moves regardless of severe warnings from Beijing. Although India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement Friday that there was “no change” in the country’s position on the Dalai Lama, keeping officials from celebratory events is a subtle hint that India wanted to improve ties with Beijing.
The year 2018 is important for China and India after their relations were severely strained last year by multiple disputes including more than two months of standoff at Doklam. Neither of the two Asian powers wants to see this happen again. They need to enhance communication and properly manage their disputes, a situation in which Tibet is a critical issue.
India has previously tried to play the Tibet card to provoke China, but it didn’t work because China wouldn’t allow it. It brought no benefit to India and merely undermined the interests of both sides. After all these years, India should know how to handle the issue.
For a long time India has had a mixed mentality toward China. Reluctant to accept the growing influence of its neighbor, India tries to group with other like-minded countries like the US and Japan to curb China and maintain its hegemony in the region.
On the other hand, New Delhi has realized that a strong China brings not just challenges but also opportunities. China’s successful development can provide useful experiences for India in areas like job creation and industrial upgrading, as well as tangible benefits. China and India have a wide range of areas for cooperation including trade, cultural exchanges, tourism and global issues like globalization and climate change. The Belt and Road initiative can also be an important platform to facilitate India’s development.
This year China and India will see a series of high-level meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected to visit China later this year.
To play down the Tibetan separatists’ celebrations and stop playing the Tibet card is a welcome step by New Delhi. It is hoped this approach can continue.
Shunning Dalai Lama helps heal Sino-Indian relations
BY SU TAN