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  • 04 Sep, 2023
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Say Farewell to China, Say Yes to India-Tibet Border

The world is looking forward to the G20 New Delhi summit in September 2023 under India presidency with hope and anticipation of finding new ways in the direction of holistic development of human indexes through global economic growth. The evolving agenda under India presidency showing shift towards a human-centric development approach that aligns with the concerns of the Global South gives a positive direction to the world community. Major world economies are slated to join the 18th G20 Summit at New Delhi, making Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (one Earth, one family, one future) a global agenda for growth, development, and cooperation for human populations across the globe. The international community is upbeat about India’s resolute rise as one of world’s major economies which is projected to follow a steady growth curve in the future. The G20-New Delhi Summit is taking place at a crucial time for India and an important crossroad for all countries of the world.  Amidst all this, China asserts its presence in world media with the release of the latest edition of standard map showing the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as belonging to it on August, 2023 by the ministry of natural resources of China. While the map is not new, the timing of its release brings all fingers on Chinese intentions. The greatest joke is China’s justification to its decision to release this edition of its map, calling it a routine practice in China’s exercise of sovereignty in accordance with the law. On top of this, China expects India to not ‘over-interpret’ this coercive strategy, stay objective and calm regarding China’s absurd claims over our territories. This behaviour of China brings certain questions in our mind. Why China endorses such exercise of sovereignty which involves irresponsible and unsolicited behaviour like making false claims over the national territories of their neighbouring country as their own and that too not as a mistake but an organised attempt of intimidation with full political sanctity of their government. Why China needs to indulge in releasing its map over and again? For free citizens like us, such actions seem delusional. This is a political strategy of communist Chinese government to assert its defunct one China policy over its illegal occupations and demonstrate its grip over these forcefully occupied territories of other countries like Tibet. This is China’s pressure tactic against India, it is a way to hijack media attention and government engagement from the sensitive topics like Tibet by drawing everyone’s focus on India’s territorial integrity. The release of its disputed map is well timed, it is placed right before the G20 New Delhi summit to realign Indian media, Indian people’s psyche to validate the existence of Indo-China border through their reactionary narratives in defence of India. Communist China creates these narratives to divert everyone’s attention from the fact that there is no India-China border. India shares its Himalayan border with Tibet.  Tibet is under forceful occupation of China since 1950, but this illegal occupation does not change the truth about the existence of Tibet as a Nation. Tibet has been an independent and sovereign neighbouring country of India since ages. China was never our neighbour. The violent annexation of Tibet by Chinese Communist Party in 1950s brought China across our Himalayan border. Tibetans are struggling for independence of their country for the past 70 years in one of the most dignified non-violent freedom movements ever witnessed in human history. It is very important for every Indian to note that there is no historical validity to India-China border, the historical India-Tibet border has been replaced by objectively erasing the existence of Tibet by communist China through narratives like this disputed map. Such narratives create a psychological illusion of acknowledging Chinese occupation of the Tibetan plateau by calling India’s Himalayan border as Indo-China border instead of India-Tibet border. Ancient China ends at the Great Wall of China, the extended territories of the present-day People’s Republic of China accounts to the aggressive territorial expansion policy of CCP. The Chinese presence across the northern and eastern border of India has proved to be of grave danger to India’s strategic as well as internal security. The citizens belonging to India’s frontier states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Ladakh have tasted the worst experiences of China’s aggression and coercion over this 7 decades of draconian Chinese rule in Tibet. China strategically plans and executes its coercive policies in the areas near India-Tibet border to create a clout of psychological dominance over Tibet. This also affirms communist China’s expansionist ideology, an integral element of communism in China.

At this juncture it is very important to understand the psycho-political game plan of China. China is been ruled by the Communist Party of China (CCP) since 1949 when CCP came to power under the leadership of Mao Zedong. China under CCP has caused greatest political, humanitarian, ecological and economic crises in Asia, the list of affected countries keeps mounting every year. Tibet fell to China’s territorial expansion immediately after the rise of CCP in China. The People’s Republic of China has border disputes with almost every Asian nation. China is a threat to peace and stability in Asia and a common threat to the democratic world. The communist government of China has left no stones unturned to achieve its goal of political supremacy, be it through military subjugation, violence, diplomatic coercions, bullying, economic ties, ecological wars, etc. In fact, the CCP government has devastated their own country, China has witnessed the worst famine under this regime and continues to reel under intense ecological stress due to rampant destruction caused to its natural environment in the name of economic development. The economic boom of China is taking a dip, Chinese government is grappling to handle a serious economic slowdown in China which worries the economists of worst consequences. This economic slowdown can create very difficult situations of internal security inside China. These difficulties however don’t refrain the communist government from exercising its routine behaviour of being a regional bully. When all other countries of the world are viewing the G-20 New Delhi Summit as an opportunity to negotiate and formulate goals and plannings for future development, China exercises its bully card to assert its regional dominance. This is CCP government’s multi-pronged approach to address the disputed territorial claims along with containing internal unrest by engaging the Chinese population in falsified sovereignty issues of China. Now, the question is about our modus operandi, what should we do, what is the best way forward for Indian citizens.

Indian citizens should learn about India’s Himalayan borders. First, it must be clearly understood that India has no border with China. India shares its Himalayan border with Tibet which runs along Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, and Arunachal Pradesh. We must strictly refer to this border as India-Tibet border in all our narratives, published literatures and communications. Every Indian citizen has a responsibility to denounce the coercive Chinese psychological invasion of India carried on over years through their falsified narratives, and at the same time Indians must remain aware of the threats from China. Despite economic slowdown, internal strife, and international sanctions, CCP is getting a firm footing in implementing its hydrological war against India. After unabated destruction of forests, grasslands, meadows, and other natural resources of the Tibetan plateau for the past 70 years the Chinese government is hell bend on building multiple dams over Yarlung Tsangpo river (headwaters of Brahmaputra River). This dam building frenzy is underway in the Yarlung valley, China has already built several smaller dams on this river with many more in store to come. According to many sources there are roughly 100 dams planned on the rivers flowing through Tibet including the Yarlung Tsangpo River. Recent news confirms that China has started its work for the super dam at the great bend of Yarlung Tsangpo gorge, also called the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon. China considers water management data to be a state secret, hence it is always difficult to conclude about concrete actions and progress on this dam on Yarlung Tsangpo. This super dam will be the largest dam in the world, it will supersede the size and capacity of the Three Gorges Dam. It is planned to produce 60gigawatts of energy when completed. China has an ambitious hydrological plan for the waters of Yarlung Tsangpo. This river is like an unexplored treasure for the CCP government, dams on Yarlung Tsangpo will solve many problems of China like production and trade of energy which will contribute to country’s GDP, transfer of water from Yarlung Tsangpo to the drought hit Northern China, and a security policy based on hydrology which includes the water bomb ticking at the great bend of Yarlung Tsangpo. This huge dam at the bend of Yarlung Tsangpo will be used to intimidate the downstream people whenever needed, a water war against India. This exploitative hydrological policy of China poses as a death warrant for the people of Brahmaputra valley civilization. The Yarlung Tsangpo-Brahmaputra is a transboundary river system which feeds one of the most thickly populated regions in Asia. The Yarlung Tsangpo flows down to enter India at Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh. This river is known as Siang River in Arunachal Pradesh and the Brahmaputra River in Assam. It is the 9th largest river in the world in terms of water discharged. The slew of dams on Yarlung Tsangpo and the mega dam in the seismically, strategically, and ecologically sensitive Yarlung Tsangpo gorge poses gravest threats to the future survival of the biodiversity rich natural ecosystems of Siang-Brahmaputra valleys in downstream. The Brahmaputra valley civilisation which extends up to the Yarlung valley in Tibet is threatened by this hydrological policy of China. The people of Siang valley and Brahmaputra valley in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam respectively will be worst hit from this ecological devastation. The natural forests, wetlands, and biodiversity of this region is the lifeline of the human populations in this area. Any change in the flow and hydrology of this river can bring an unprecedented ecological catastrophe in this region which is part of the Eastern Himalayan Biodiversity hotspot. The impact of such an ecological disaster will be felt worldwide. This will amount to a national crisis in India and Bangladesh. India, with the largest democratic voice in this world has a critical role to play in resisting this Chinese plan of mass destruction. The most powerful tool of Indian democracy is the people of India; hence it is time for Indian citizens to raise their voice against Chinese exploitation of Yarlung Tsangpo-Siang-Brahmaputra River system.

The people’s forum ‘Free Tibet-a voice from Assam’ is leading an ecological campaign opposing the damming and exploitation of Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet. This campaign titled ‘Save Tsangpo Siang Brahmaputra’ is the boldest voice against China’s illegal hegemony over the Himalayan rivers, especially against the exploitative hydrological policy on Yarlung Tsangpo river. This campaign calls for the safety of Yarlung-Siang-Brahmaputra River system, a civil society movement is growing in Assam and NE India supporting this campaign. This campaign should be supported by all Indian citizens. The safety of the rich Brahmaputra valley civilization is the responsibility of every Indian citizen.

 Everyone must remember the current political situations in all the three countries – India, Tibet, China before reacting to Chinese insinuations. Tibet is under the iron grip of Chinese government, every news from Tibet reflects the forceful rule of China in the plateau. The continuous systemic war against Tibetan culture, language, religion, and everything about the Tibetan way of life with absolute vehemence by the Chinese rulers tells volumes about the grit and resolve of the Tibetans to adhere to the dharma of freedom. The Chinese oppressive regime is brewing new ways of torturing and breaking this Tibetan spirit but have failed every time. On the contrary the Tibetans have given hope to the democratic world by upholding the spirit of freedom and democracy with 63 years of successful Tibetan democracy function amongst the Tibetan people despite the forceful occupation of Tibet by communist China. The Tibetan freedom movement is a global movement now, and communist China is always at an uneasy spot about the rising support to the Tibetan independence movement. China is most uncomfortable when the support is coming from India because China knows the fact that Indian people has the strength to magnify the Tibetan freedom movement to a decisive form and magnitude. India is emerging as a global leader in world politics, economy, technology, and statesmanship. Theres no stopping to India’s phoenix flight in the coming future, this brings global spotlight on India. China on the other hand is on a down slide, geopolitical blunders of the communist leadership has brought China to a point of no return in international politics, trade, as well as in domestic politics. These prevailing conditions cooks a suitable ground for China to incite conflicts in the region, calculated diplomatic moves to create unrest in the minds of Indians. In this geopolitical scenario, Indians must keep in mind that China is a constant threat to India, but we stand as the most formidable adversary for China. The Chinese behaviour of bully conveys the hidden concerns of Chinese leadership about India’s rise and the rise of support to the Tibetan freedom movement amongst the Indian citizens. We Indians must stand in solidarity to raise our support to the Tibetan independence movement, lend support to the ‘Save Tsangpo-Siang-Brahmaputra’ campaign and categorically deny China by calling our Himalayan border as India-Tibet border. We say adieu to China. Leave Tibet and go back China.


 (The author is an environment activist based in Guwahati, Assam. She is the coordinator of the forum Free Tibet-a voice from