When a nation has been led by an incompetent, weak or fractured political leadership then other nations are bound to take advantage. As has China taken advantage of India.
Since independence and until recently, Indian leadership seriously lacked strategic thinking and understanding of international affairs. It considered international diplomacy to mean as strutting around, delivering moralistic lectures to others, and being extremely timid on all matters.
China invaded and occupied Tibet in 1950 and India timidly accepted this immoral and illegal brazen act. India's refusal to see the writing on the wall and arm itself cost it very heavy.
Then in 1962 an emboldened China invaded India and illegally occupied 38,000 sq. kms of Indian territory and has extracted from Pakistan a further 5180 sq. kms of Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir, which it had illegally occupied. China under veiled threats of use of force, has been consistently demanding a further 90,000 sq. kms of Indian territory.
China in pursuit of Asian hegemony is constantly expanding its borders and influence and power simply bullies its way all across Asia. It will not stop, given its political, military and economic structure it cannot afford to stop expanding. This is the threat to all of Asia. This is why China has to be contained and Tibet is that point from which it has to be contained and challenging as it may appear, forced to retreat.
Why is Tibet important for India and China?
Tibet is a huge plateau at an average altitude of 4,500 metres above sea level, with a total landmass of more than 2.3 million square kilometres (almost as large as India) and can be considered the roof of the world. More importantly its the watershed, that is its glaciers are the origin of 20 great rivers of Asia which supports the lives of half the global population. Tibet is Asia's life provider
In a sense who controls Tibet controls the fate of Asia. To give unbridled power to an aggressive dictatorial regime with clearly stated expansionist doctrine can be fatal. China has been the world's greatest nuclear arms and missiles proliferator. China financier, and supplier of most insurgencies in India and Asia.
A Tibet under Chinese occupation affects India and Asia adversely spiritually, economically, and militarily. To ignore Tibetan freedom struggle is a blunder of Himalayan proportions.
Chinese Concerns and why it chose illegal occupation of Tibet?
China has 21% of world's population and only 8.5% of arable land. and 6.5% of the water reserves. It wants and needs the waters and the pastures of Tibet.
Tibet has huge mineral reserves particularly rare earth minerals that China covets.
China because of its size can never consider any other nation as an equal partner. By its very nature it seeks only domination and dictatorial influence over others. Chinese leaders ask why negotiate peaceful terms with Tibet if you can by force simply occupy it?
China has always been a great civilisation. It has never forgotten how it was brutalised by Mongols then Japan and finally by Western powers. Understandably it never wants to be in that weak and compromising position ever again.
China is anxious to protect its South Western flank. If left alone China is sure that America, or UK and most likely Soviet Union would take over control of Tibet directly or indirectly. Better to occupy Tibet by force and keep it under its absolute control.
One can imagine China as a volcano. Hard shell and solid on the outside, but large amount of molten lava stirring within which can explode at any times. It it erupts it can destroy the Chinese communist party and lead to Chinese disintegration.
Religious freedom of any kind will spell doom for China, which follows only the religion of communism and that too a flawed one.
Incredulous as it may sound. the greatest threat to China comes from India. India had greatly influenced Chinese thinking and life for 2000 years without sending a single soldier across the Himalayas. India's culture, democratic ideals, and emerging scientific and economic culture at China's doorstep is a source of great concern to the Chinese. The greatest threat is the great spiritual power that resides within the Buddhist practice of the Tibetan people which can never be changed by force but can be enhanced by influence. This influence India has the capability to provide.
So as is typical of the Communist party of China's approach it simply annexed Tibet and attempts to eradicate the Tibetan people and their culture.
Strong military powers decide what they want to do and then find justification and legitimacy. China's propaganda machinery works overtime to justify what it is doing in Tibet. Though the Chinese have been unsuccessful in convincing anyone they have no alternative but to persist.
What is less known is the view of the Tibetan people and that of the Tibetan government in exile. Their views countering Chinese propaganda can be viewed here.
1. China claims that Tibet was formerly part of China 800 years ago during the Yuan dynasty. This is unsubstantiated and even if we stretch that falsehood it cannot be true because China itself was then part of Mongolian rule. By this token most countries today would have no right to exist and revert back to former conquerors. Tibet is unique culture and language have nothing in common with China.
2. Chinese have blatantly renegaded on their a 17 point accord /agreement of 1950 with the Dalai Lama to retain and protect Tibetan political system and Buddhist religion. To exterminate the Tibetans, it seeks to destroy their culture, their religion. China has continuously persecuted the Tibetans, reducing them to insignificance. China rarely permits them to use their local language. In addition it has desecrated and closed down all the 6000 monasteries except 8 and destroying thousands of years old manuscripts.
3. They had already imprisoned the Panchen Lama. China wanted to eliminate the Dalai Lama the symbol of Tibet, its leadership, resistance and the source of divine inspiration to the brave people of Tibet.
4. On that fateful 10th day of March 1959, called Tibetan uprising day, 300,000 brave Tibetans surrounded the Potala Palace to protect the Chinese forces from taking away the Dalai Lama. Many innocent Tibetans died and the great spiritual master His Holiness. The Dalai Lama fled to India 0n 30th March 1959 to continue his struggle for Tibetan freedom. He has been staying here ever since and supporting the Tibetan government in exile.
5. China claims large amount of Indian territory as theirs. It now wants to forcibly occupy Tawang in India which is home to the second largest and greatest monastery of the Tibetans. China on its part continuously ferments trouble for India by financing and indoctrinating rebel groups in India's North East. It also uses its proxy state of Pakistan to wreak havoc and weaken India.
Indian leadership has been distracted by the nuisance value of Pakistan. China however is a gigantic threat not only for India but for all of Asia. China is already asserting its military, and economic power to take over Asia not by right but by might.
India has to resist this bullying and support the freedom and autonomy of Tibet. It is important not only for a moralistic reason, but also for spiritual, social, strategic, economic and military reasons.
India and Indians could do that if we were to rise above petty politics, social degradation, and petty mindedness which seems to dominate the attention of India.
What can each one of us do as individuals?
Learn more about the issues of Tibet, and share it with others. See and act on how we Indians can contribute.
Support Tibetan people wherever you meet them. They are a proud people, they do not want money, they want and need our moral support. They value our love, friendship and the opportunity to be financially, academically, technically and scientifically self sufficient.
This is not too much to ask for protecting our own survival.