By Tenzin Dharpo
Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Phayul file photo
DHARAMSHALA, May 21: Following the revelation by exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama that the Indian government prevented a meeting between him and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014, a former senior Indian intelligence official has said that New Delhi may have been exercising legitimate concern in trying to ward of Chinese designs to drive a “wedge” between the Tibetan leader and his host.
Amitabh Mathur, a high-ranking former Indian intelligence official who served as an adviser to the government on Tibetan affairs told The Guardian
that China might be trying to exploit the meeting to create tension leading New Delhi to prevent the meeting. “The Chinese would certainly like to drive a wedge between His Holiness and the government of India,” Mathur said.
The meeting that never happened would have also helped China in gaining soft power in the global diplomatic stage, says Adrian Zenz who is a lecturer at the European School of Culture and Theology, Korntal, Germany. Zenz, who is also a researcher on ethnic policies in China, Tibet and Xinjiang said, “The main thing the Chinese would gain from it is soft power from the world because the Dalai Lama is seen as a person of peace and the world sees China as oppressing people,” he said.
A book by noted Indian journalist stated that the Dalai Lama during an interview made the revelation. An excerpt from the book on the revelation states the Dalai Lama as saying, “In 2014, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Modi, I requested a meeting with him. President Xi Jinping agreed, but the Indian government was cautious about the meeting, so it didn't happen.”
While the Dalai Lama’s office made no statements on the matter, the author said her transcripts of the interview to the same office for approval received no objections.
The ageing Tibetan leader who is widely seen as the spearhead of Tibet and the political movement of the Tibetans has become an integral part of the geo-political discourse, particularly when it concerns the two largest powers in Asia: China and India, rendering many to label him as New Delhi’s trump card when dealing with China.
The Nobel laureate has maintained that although Tibet is a historically independent nation, he is seeking autonomy under the Chinese framework moving forward. He has advocated dialogue between his representatives and Beijing over the last few decades.
The talks between the two sides have stalled since 2010 after nine rounds of meeting. The two envoys, Lodi G. Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen resigned in June 2012 citing lack of genuine conviction to resolve the issue from Beijing. The exile Tibetan government, known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration continues to call out Beijing for dialogue.