''Former Tibetan government head visited China recently''

NEW DELHI: The Sikyong (head) of the elected Central Tibetan Administration, Dr Lobsang Sangay, in New Delhi confirmed that his predecessor Prof Samdhang Rimpoche did visit China recently. He, however, warned, “Don’t read too much into it. At most it’s a private visit and it’s too early to say anything.”

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 14

The Sikyong (head) of the elected Central Tibetan Administration, Dr Lobsang Sangay, in New Delhi confirmed that his predecessor Prof Samdhang Rimpoche did visit China recently. He, however, warned, “Don’t read too much into it. At most it’s a private visit and it’s too early to say anything.”

He was answering a question by former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal on the sidelines of the Third ML Sondhi Memorial Lecture. Sangay delivered the lecture on ‘Tibet holds the key to Beijing’.

Sondhi was an IFS officer who quit and won a Lok Sabha election in 1967 from Delhi on a Jana Sangh ticket.

Sangay said India should make Tibet the lynchpin in changing Beijing, saying Tibet must be declared the “core issue”. 

“Either you transform China into a liberal democracy or it transforms you,” he said. Citing Norway and Denmark as examples of the transformation, he said the two nations had abandoned the cause of Tibetans to mend ties with China.

Sangay, who spoke at the United Nations two days ago, warned India, saying: “China is already in Nepal. They have come to Doklam.” He repeated Mao’s words on Tibet being the “palm of China” and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, modern Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh) its five fingers. Mao, former Chairman of the Communist Party of China, had asserted it is China’s responsibility to “liberate” them all.

On being asked if he agreed with the recent book, ‘China’s India War — Collision Course on the Roof of the World’, by Bertil Lintner, which said China had prepared for war in 1959, Sangay said: “China prepared for the 1962 India-China war in 1954 when it agreed to only a five-year renewal of the India-Tibet trade pact. In 1959, Tibet was attacked.”

Sangay said: “China is worried as it now has the largest Buddhist community of 300 million — more than the 82 million strong Communist Party.”

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, who was the chief guest at the memorial lecture, said: “Maintaining good relations with China is the government’s priority. At present, negotiations are on between Tibet and China. Whenever required, India and its people will stand by them (Tibetans).” On the India-China standoff, he said: “Doklam is not over yet.” 

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