Amid ‘Thank you India’ drive, Tibetans in exile claim backdoor talks with China

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A parliamentary delegation of the Tibetan government in exile in India has said that they have started backdoor talks with China over Tibet issue and they believe this dialogue will take the issue to logical end. The delegation believes that India can play a role in addressing the Sino-Tibetan issues and bring peace to the region.

“Backdoor talks with china are going on and we are sure talks will resume soon,” Youdon Aukatsang, Head of Tibetan Parliamentary Delegation told reporters in New Delhi. “We are very thankful to India for helping us all these years. India has a special position in Asia and we are sure it can play a major role in solving our issue,” she added.


The five-member delegation of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), headed by Youdon Aukatsang, are on an outreach programs to various states of India. They have visited states such as Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan and New Delhi in the past 20 days. During the visit they met top leaders, government officials and informed them about the Tibet issue.

“We met with governors, chief ministers, speakers, lawmakers and other political leaders in various states as part of an outreach campaign launched by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile this year, marking its 60th anniversary of Tibetans in exile through a “Thank You India” campaign. All the states were very receptive to the message that we sought to convey to them,” Youdon said.

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Till 2010, Tibet and China held around 9 rounds of talks to resolve the issue, but since January 2010 the talks are stalled as China refused to accept any of the demand from Tibet’s Central Administration Committee. “There has been a stalemate in the talks since then, but we are still going to pursue the same policy. We have deep faith in it,” Youdon said.

“Our administration has approved a mid-way approach, which was unanimously passed by our Parliament in Exile in India. I think, what we are doing right now, this is the best step forward,” she said. For Tibetans, the “mid-way approach” implies not seeking independence but genuine autonomy within the framework of the People's Republic of China.

“We have been asking autonomy where we can keep internal security, Tibetan as main language and also asked China to remove all “illegal” Chinese inhabitants which have been settled in Tibet all these years”. China can keep, Tibet’s Foreign affairs and Defense with them”, she added.

What is China-Tibet issue?

Though it has been a matter for debate for historians to understand the claims and counter claims for China and Tibet, but the agreed fact is that Tibet was an autonomous region before Yuan dynasty (1271-1368).

During the Yuan rule and as contended by the Government of China that it has had control over Tibet since then. Tibetans claim that China has occupied it illegally since 1951 and since then, as part of strategy, it is destroying Tibet’s national and cultural identities.

Tibetan people and commentators often describe this as “cultural genocide”. The unsuccessful Tibetan Uprising of 1959, in which Tibetans rebelled in an attempt to overthrow the Chinese government, led to the fleeing of the 14th Dalai Lama to India. He has lived in exile ever since.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks at an event marking the beginning of the 60th year of the spiritual leader’s exile in India, in Dharmsala, on March 31, 2018. (AP)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks at an event marking the beginning of the 60th year of the spiritual leader’s exile in India, in Dharmsala, on March 31, 2018. (AP)

A few hundred Tibetans initially followed the 14th Dalai Lama into exile, and since then hundreds of thousands have followed. Tibetans claims that China is incurring huge human rights violations in Tibet and has killed, raped over hundreds of protesters.

According to Parliamentary delegation of Tibetan government in exile, China is doing cultural, religious, and human aggression in China, which has resulted into deaths, torture and destruction.

“There are no human rights in Tibet, anyone who writes against Chinese government is put behind bars, local bloggers are caged, monk in Tibet are harassed and no press freedom is available. There has been reports of enforced disappearances. Even the information from Tibet is been screened or blocked,” the delegation said.

Tibetans in India

According to Youdon, there are around 80,000-90,000 Tibetans living in various states of India, with most in Dharamsala in Northern India, who vote once in every five years to elect the largest legislative organ for the Tibetans called the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE), or the Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration CTA, based in Dharamsala, India.

The creation of this democratically elected body has been one of the major changes that the 14th Dalai Lama brought about in his efforts to introduce a democratic system of administration. China has not so far recognized Tibetan parliament in Exile.

Thaw in Sino-India relations

One of the major irritants in Indo-China relations has been Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader and his support for Independence of Tibet.

Since 1959, when Dalai Lama and his followers fled to India, government has been helping him on various fronts like allowing to visit him to various parts of India despite China’s reservations. China considers Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist, who even today has great influence over Tibetans.

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China did not take kindly to the Dalai Lama’s visit to the disputed area of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh last year. The Chinese termed his visit, particularly to Tawang, a “provocation” by India.

India responded that “The government has clearly stated on several occasions that Dalai Lama is a revered religious leader, who is deeply respected as such by the Indian people. No additional color should be ascribed to his religious and spiritual activities and visits to various states of India.”

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