After Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished his holiness Dalai Lama on his birthday, earlier this month, a rattled Politburo of CCP has dispatched its tallest leader in President Xi Jinping to Tibet. In a surprise visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Jinping first landed at Mainling airport in Nyingtri, in southeast Tibet, on July 20 and later addressed a public gathering.
Xi Jinping was also seen addressing a gathering in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, where he stated that “as long as we follow the Communist Party and as long as we stick to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, we will surely realise the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation as planned.” The last time Jinping visited Tibet was in 2011 when he was China’s Vice President.
Xi Jinping trying to evoke feelings of bonhomie amongst the Tibetan populace by using his Communist ideology gives way to his anxiety. PM Modi on July 6 had wished Dalai Lama by tweeting, “Spoke on phone to His Holiness the @DalaiLama to convey greetings on his 86th birthday. We wish him a long and healthy life.”
Spoke on phone to His Holiness the @DalaiLama to convey greetings on his 86th birthday. We wish him a long and healthy life.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 6, 2021
It is pertinent to note that China regards the 14th Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in northern India for more than six decades, as a dangerous “splittist”, or separatist, and is outraged upon seeing any engagement with him.
The public wishes for the Dalai Lama by India’s Prime Minister mark the beginning of a departure in India’s adherence to the much touted ‘One China Policy’. PM Modi has signalled that he and his government are willing to play the Tibet card if China does not tame itself. For decades now, India has maintained a safe distance from the Tibet issue, and consequently, from the Dalai Lama. However, that has not stopped China from stepping on India’s toes. Now, India is prepared to amputate China.
However, it wasn’t wishing Dalai Lama that alone pressed the buttons of Jinping. The central government recently moved 50,000 troops to the Indo-Tibet borders. As reported by TFI, India now has roughly 200,000 troops focused on the border, which is an increase of more than 40 per cent from last year.
The number of troops has also been increased along the southern Tibetan plateau, with soldiers equipped with machine guns having joined the retinue of armed paramilitary personnel already stationed there.
In Arunachal Pradesh, India has also deployed its newly-formed Rafale squadrons. Deployment of the Rafale on the eastern front further enhances the IAF’s capability, which already has the Sukhoi-30MKIs stationed at Assam’s Tezpur and Chabua.
Earlier this year, the Defence Ministry had informed the parliament that connectivity on 59 roads had been achieved along the India-Tibet border. Between March 2018 and 2020, the Border Roads Organization (BRO) had built 1,505 kilometres of roads, most of them in Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh. Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, the BRO constructed the Daporijo bridge over river Subansiri in Arunachal Pradesh, which strategically connects India to the LAC.
Thus, by landing au announced in Tibet, Jinping is trying to cover his bases. New Delhi is expected to closely follow the developments and chart its future course of action regarding Tibet.