CHENNAI, India, 13 October 2019
Chinese President Xi Jinping was given a grand reception during his visit to Chennai (India) on 11th and 12th October 2019. The meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping took place at Mamallapuram near Chennai.
Mamallapuram is a historic place near the sea shore, where there are many temples and monuments of great beauty and architectural splendour. It was built by the Pallava dynasty several centuries ago. For the visit of the Chinese President, the entire Mamallapuram was cleaned and decorated, the like of which it had never seen before. Mr Modi left no stone unturned to make the visit pleasant and memorable for the Chinese President and his delegation. Obviously, this would have pleased the Chinese President, though the Chinese are known to be always calculating and never allow themselves to go overboard on any overtures and flattery.
While praising the Indo-Chinese relationship, the Indian media also heaped praise on the Chinese President himself, and the events were extensively covered.
However, in the process of this “celebration”, most of the people in India do not seem to have remembered the atrocities committed by China in Tibet 60 years ago, and its illegal occupation of Tibet up to today. Surprisingly, most Indians do not even talk about China’s claim that Arunachal Pradesh in India belongs to China . Further, most people do not seem to remember the continued occupation of huge Indian territory in Aksai Chin, which China annexed during the war with India in 1962, when thousands of Indian army men were killed. Further, not many Indians even remember Pakistan gifting away portion of Pakistan occupied Kashmir to China, which India claims as its territory.
During the bilateral meeting between Mr Modi and Xi Jinping, the above inconvenient matters were not discussed, as if they are no issue. After the conclusion of the meeting, both India and China said that the meeting was eventful and would promote strong relations between both the countries by way of trade cooperation etc.
While Indian public opinion appears to have become silent on the occupation of Indian territory and China’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh, it is good that a few Tibetans (Tibetan refugees in India) came out on the streets and protested about the continued occupation of Tibet by China, and brought to notice the plight of Tibetans at the hands of the Chinese government
It appears that the Indian government was not happy about such protests by Tibetans, and detained some of the protesters and questioned a number of them. The Indian government could have allowed them to protest silently. But, it did not allow the protest, which is contrary to India’s democratic traditions and practices.
The protest by a few Tibetans was well-publicized in the Indian media. To a small extent, the Tibetan issue came into the forefront and caught the attention of the people.
In today’s conditions, where China has become economically and militarily a powerful nation and the world conscience is silent about China’s several atrocities in Tibet and its well-known expansionist policies, Tibetans find it hard to get their voice heard in world forums.
The cry of Tibetans for freedom should be heard around the world — that would bring moral pressure on China. This protest by Tibetans in Chennai is timely and praiseworthy. The protest by the Tibetans is protest for peace, freedom, and fairness in international relations. The Tibetans, now scattered around the world, should derive confidence and inspiration from Tibetan protesters in Chennai, in conducting the freedom movement for Tibet.
About the author
NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as a social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice for the Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden, and working for probity in public life.
More articles by NS Venkataraman on Tibet Sun.