By Xu Liang | Global Times
ON THE WEB, 10 February 2017
On 2 February, the University of California San Diego (UCSD) announced that it has invited the 14th Dalai Lama to address the graduating students at commencement in June. The announcement, however, triggered anger from Chinese mainland students at the university.
By calling the Dalai Lama “the exiled spiritual head and leader of the Tibetan people” and “a man of peace,” the UCSD has shown admiration for the Buddhist monk. What is laughable is that the person behind the infamous invitation was campus Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, an Indian American. The campus website posted a photo of Khosla who met the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, India, last October. This shows how some Indian Americans agitate China-India and China-US relations.
Khosla is imposing his views of the Dalai Lama on the student population at the university and using such an important occasion as commencement to promote someone who has nothing to do with education.
But he is not the first and the only person to take such action. In recent years, as Indian authorities gradually offset the support for the Dalai Lama, some public organizations supporting the Buddhist monk have become more active. In 2008, many Indians and Westerners in Nepal held demonstrations in Kathmandu against the Beijing Olympic torch relay.
Some Indians in European countries have also tried to lobby local officials for more opportunities for the Dalai Lama to speak to an international audience. With a clear knowledge of the Chinese government’s stance toward the issue, these Indians overseas are deliberately opposing China.
Despite the geographic intimacy between China and India, some overseas Indians fail to have a well-informed view of the history of Tibet and ignore the mainstream public opinion. They not only tarnish the image of the countries where they stay, but also offend the Chinese people who are firm to safeguard the unity of their country.
These overseas Indians do not have a clear sense of how international politics function. They cannot feel the hurt that a divided country brings to its people.
Since modern times, the Indians have enjoyed unity bestowed by the British. They ramified Pakistan, annexed Sikkim, and exploited geopolitical interests from ethnic divisions in Sri Lanka and Nepal. If the Indians indulge in the obsession of intruding on the territorial integrity of China, China will not sit still.
India is a big country in terms of public diplomacy, but if some overseas Indians make it their business to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and treading on their sovereignty, they will bear the political consequences.
The invitation was announced right after Rex Tillerson was sworn in as the US secretary of state. It may serve to bring public attention to the Buddhist monk in exile. If Donald Trump’s administration wants to alter the consensus reached between China and the US after the end of WWII over Tibet, they will thoroughly embarrass themselves.
About the author
The author is Executive Director of the Indian Studies Centre from Beijing International Studies University.