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Today is the 50th anniversary of the Lhasa uprising. Much of the associated commentary suggests that Tibet is, at most, an internal human rights issue in China, albeit one that impacts China's foreign relations with Western democracies who care about the plight of the Tibetan people. Indeed, the Dalai Lama's admission that Tibet is part of China, and that he seeks true autonomy rather than actual independence for his people, reaffirm this view. There is also, however, an external dimension to the Tibetan crisis, one that implicates core national security interests of nuclear-armed great powers. <br />This is the role Tibet's dispensation plays in the conflict between China and India. Indian strategist C. Raja Mohan puts it bluntly: "
When there is relative tranquility in Tibet, India and China have reasonably good relations. When Sino-Tibetan tensions rise, India's relationship with China heads south."
Although not widely recognized in the West, the nexus of Tibet and the unresolved border conflict between China and India ranks with the Taiwan Strait and Korean peninsula among Asia's leading flashpoints.<br />Contrary to Chinese propaganda, Tibet was not traditionally a part of China. Over the centuries, relations between China and Tibet were characterized by varying degrees of association spanning the spectrum from sovereignty to suzerainty to independence. The People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in the middle of the last century precisely because Tibetans did not consent to Beijing's rule.<br />For its part, prior to Indian independence, then-British India vigorously supported Tibetan autonomy and sponsored the Himalayan kingdoms of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Ladakh to create an expansive geographic buffer between China and the subcontinent. John Garver's excellent history of Sino-Indian rivalry contains useful maps depicting a rump China and an expansive Indian subcontinent separated by a vast, autonomous Tibet, demonstrating how far apart were India and China geographically until Chinese unification by the Communist Party several years after Indian independence gave them a common border. <br />That common border has since been a source of conflict. As is well known, India and China went to war over their territorial dispute in 1962, ending the era of what Indian Prime Minister Nehru called "
Indians and Chinese are brothers"
). What is less well known in the West is that China, while subsequently resolving 17 of its 18 outstanding land border disputes with neighboring countries, has kept the territorial conflict with India alive, at times appearing to inflame the issue as a source of leverage over New Delhi.<br />Over the past two years, Chinese officials have publicly asserted Chinese claims to the entire Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which some Chinese military advisors and strategists refer to as "
Chinese forces have periodically engaged in small-scale cross-border encroachments, destroying Indian military bunkers and patrol bases in Ladakh and Sikkim. <br />At the same time, China has been systematically constructing road and rail networks across the Tibetan plateau in ways that tilt the balance of forces along the contested frontier in China's favor; India has responded with infrastructure projects of its own, including roads and air fields, to enable military reinforcement of its border regions, but has failed to keep pace with its northern neighbor. China has also positioned large numbers of military and security forces on the Tibetan plateau, mainly with an eye on suppressing popular unrest. But the possibility of using them to "
teach India a lesson"
(as in 1962) remains. <br />Indian pundits note that public reminders from Beijing of China's decisive victory over India in the 1962 war have spiked over the past year, sending what Indians believe is a clear signal to New Delhi at a time of rising tensions. Combined with China's reported deployment in Tibet of nuclear missiles targeting India, officials in New Delhi feel increasingly alarmed in the face of Chinese provocation. In striking statements little noted in the West, both Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and respected former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra recently warned China against any attempt to seize Indian-held territory along their contested border. <br />Surging border tensions may be related to worries in Beijing over the Dalai Lama's succession. Some of the holiest sites in Tibetan Buddhism, including the sacred monastery at Tawang, are in Indian-held territory. The Dalai Lama, who has been in poor health, has said that he would not feel obligated to nominate a successor from, or be reborn in, Tibet proper, raising the possibility that the next Dalai Lama could be named outside China -- in the Tibetan cultural belt that stretches across northern India into Bhutan and Nepal. <br />Some Indian strategists fear that China may act to preempt, or respond to, an announcement of the Dalai Lama's chosen successor in India - particularly in Tawang -- by deploying the People's Liberation Army to occupy contested territory along the Sino-Indian border, as occurred in 1962, creating a risk of military conflict between the now nuclear-armed Asian giants. <br />Although China enjoys the dominant military position in the Tibetan plateau, India still has cards to play. It hosts the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile in Dharamsala, enabling Tibet's representatives to keep their cause alive in the court of world opinion. And unlike Britain -- which last October withdrew its recognition of China's "
(in favor of "
) over Tibet in a failed effort to placate Beijing, leading one scornful Singaporean commentator to note that China was "
bringing Europe to its knees"
-- India continues to recognize only Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, rather than full and consensual sovereignty. This creates the possibility that New Delhi could play a "
in its relations with Beijing in the same way that China accuses the United States of playing a "
to keep it off balance.<br />What do Sino-Indian border tensions linked to the Tibetan cause mean for the United States? <br />First, the U.S. has a compelling interest in preventing conflict between one of its largest trading partners and its newfound strategic partner. <br />Second, historic U.S. support for the cause of human rights in Tibet, in addition to Washington's growing military ties with New Delhi, mean that the United States would find it difficult to be a neutral arbiter in such a conflict. <br />Third, India's continuing political and moral support for the Tibetan government-in-exile demonstrates that it shares with America a set of ideals in foreign policy, creating the basis for greater values-based cooperation between Washington and New Delhi - a prospect that has not gone unnoticed in Beijing.<br />Fourth, given China's development of military capabilities designed to threaten U.S. access to the Western Pacific and Southeast Asian waterways, Chinese pressure on U.S. friends including the Philippines and Vietnam to back down on claims to contested islets in the South China Sea, and Chinese harassment of the U.S. Navy in Asian waters, Washington has an important interest in making perfectly clear to Beijing that the use of force to resolve contested territorial claims or limit freedom of the seas is unacceptable -- and could upend rather than facilitate China's peaceful rise.<br />China and India Dispute Enclave on Edge of Tibet <br />INDIAN ECONOMY HAS MADE great strides in the years since independence. In 1947 the country was poor and shattered by the violence and economic and physical disruption involved in the partition from Pakistan.<br />Shiho Fukada for The New York Times<br />Indian soldiers at the Buddhist monastery in Tawang, India, in June. There is a massive Indian military buildup in the area. <br />Top of Form<br />Bottom of Form<br />Sign in to Recommend<br />Twitter <br />Sign In to E-Mail <br />Print <br />Single Page <br />Reprints <br />ShareClose <br />Linkedin<br />Digg<br />Facebook<br />Mixx<br />MySpace<br />Yahoo! Buzz<br />Permalink<br />By EDWARD WONG<br />Published: September 3, 2009 <br />TAWANG, India — This is perhaps the most militarized Buddhist enclave in the world.<br />Skip to next paragraph <br />Uneasy Engagement<br />Enclave of Hostility <br />This is the second in a series of articles examining stresses and strains of China’s emergence as a global power.<br />Multimedia<br />Slide Show <br />A Contested Frontier in the Clouds <br />Map <br />Related<br />Uneasy Engagement: Australia, Nourishing China’s Economic Engine, Questions Ties (June 3, 2009) <br />Perched above 10,000 feet in the icy reaches of the eastern Himalayas, the town of Tawang is not only home to one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most sacred monasteries, but is also the site of a huge Indian military buildup. Convoys of army trucks haul howitzers along rutted mountain roads. Soldiers drill in muddy fields. Military bases appear every half-mile in the countryside, with watchtowers rising behind concertina wire.<br />A road sign on the northern edge of town helps explain the reason for all the fear and the fury: the border with China is just 23 miles away; Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, 316 miles; and Beijing, 2,676 miles.<br />“The Chinese Army has a big deployment at the border, at Bumla,” said Madan Singh, a junior commissioned officer who sat with a half-dozen soldiers one afternoon sipping tea beside a fog-cloaked road. “That’s why we’re here.”<br />Though little known to the outside world, Tawang is the biggest tinderbox in relations between the world’s two most populous nations. It is the focus of China’s most delicate land-border dispute, a conflict rooted in Chinese claims of sovereignty over all of historical Tibet.<br />In recent months, both countries have stepped up efforts to secure their rights over this rugged patch of land. China tried to block a $2.9 billion loan to India from the Asian Development Bank on the grounds that part of the loan was destined for water projects in Arunachal Pradesh, the state that includes Tawang. It was the first time China had sought to influence the territorial dispute through a multilateral institution. Then the governor of Arunachal Pradesh announced that the Indian military was deploying extra troops and fighter jets in the area.<br />The growing belligerence has soured relations between the two Asian giants and has prompted one Indian military leader to declare that China has replaced Pakistan as India’s biggest threat. <br />Economic progress might be expected to bring the countries closer. China and India did $52 billion worth of trade last year, a 34 percent increase over 2007. But businesspeople say border tensions have infused business deals with official interference, damping the willingness of Chinese and Indian companies to invest in each other’s countries.<br />“Officials start taking more time, scrutinizing things more carefully, and all that means more delays and ultimately more denials, “ said Ravi Bhoothalingam, a former president of the Oberoi Group, the luxury hotel chain, and a member of the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi. “That’s not good for business.”<br />The roots of the conflict go back to China’s territorial claims to Tibet, an enduring source of friction between China and many foreign nations. China insists that this section of northeast India has historically been part of Tibet, and should be part of China.<br />Tawang is a thickly forested area of white stupas and steep, terraced hillsides that is home to the Monpa people, who practice Tibetan Buddhism, speak a language similar to Tibetan and once paid tribute to rulers in Lhasa. The Sixth Dalai Lama was born here in the 17th century. The Chinese Army occupied Tawang briefly in 1962, during a war with India fought over this and other territories along the 2,521-mile border.<br />More than 3,100 Indian soldiers and 700 Chinese soldiers were killed and thousands wounded in the border war. Memorials here highlighting Chinese aggression in Tawang are big draws for Indian tourists.<br />“The entire border is disputed,” said Ma Jiali, an India scholar at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a government-supported research group in Beijing. “This problem hasn’t been solved, and it’s a huge barrier to China-India relations.”<br />In some ways, Tawang has become a proxy battleground, too, between China and the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetans, who passed through this valley when he fled into exile in 1959. From his home in the distant Indian hill town of Dharamsala, he wields enormous influence over Tawang. He appoints the abbot of the powerful monastery and gives financial support to institutions throughout the area. Last year, the Dalai Lama announced for the first time that Tawang is a part of India, bolstering the India’s territorial claims and infuriating China.<br />Traditional Tibetan culture runs strong in Tawang. One morning in June, the monastery held a religious festival that drew hundreds from the nearby villages. As red-robed monks chanted sutras, blew horns and swung incense braziers in the monastery courtyard, the villagers jostled each other to be blessed by the senior lamas.<br />At the monastery, an important center of Tibetan learning, monks express rage over Chinese rule in Tibet, which the Chinese Army seized in 1951. <br />Few expect China to try to annex Tawang by force, but military skirmishes are a real danger, analysts say. The Indian military recorded 270 border violations and nearly 2,300 instances of “aggressive border patrolling” by Chinese soldiers last year, said Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research, a research organization in New Delhi. Mr. Chellaney has advised the Indian government’s National Security Council.<br />“The India-China frontier has become more ‘hot’ than the India-Pakistan border,” he said in an e-mail message. <br />Two years ago, Chinese soldiers demolished a Buddhist statue that Indians had erected at Bumla, the main border pass above Tawang, a member of the Indian Parliament, Nabam Rebia, said in a session of Parliament.<br />Tawang became part of modern India when Tibetan leaders signed a treaty with British officials in 1914 that established a border called the McMahon Line between Tibet and British-run India. Tawang fell south of the line. The treaty, the Simla Convention, is not recognized by China.<br />“We recognize it because we agreed to it,” said Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile. “If China agreed to it now, it would be a recognition of the power of the Tibet government at that time.” <br />China has grown increasingly hostile to the Dalai Lama after severe ethnic unrest in Tibet in 2008. This year, it turned its diplomatic guns on India over the Tawang issue. China moved in March to block a $2.9 billion loan to India from the Asian Development Bank, a multination group based in Manila that has China on its board, because $60 million of the loan had been earmarked for flood-control projects in Arunachal Pradesh. The loan was approved in mid-June over China’s heated objections.<br />“China expresses strong dissatisfaction to the move, which can neither change the existence of immense territorial disputes between China and India, nor China’s fundamental position on its border issues with India,” Qin Gang, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a written statement.<br />In May, weeks after China first tried to block the loan, the chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi, now retired, told a prominent Indian newspaper that China posed a greater threat than Pakistan. <br />Another official, J. J. Singh, the governor of Arunachal Pradesh and a retired chief of the Indian Army, said the next month that the Indian military was adding two divisions of troops, totaling 50,000 to 60,000 soldiers, to the border region over the next several years. Four Sukhoi fighter jets were immediately deployed to a nearby air base.<br />Since 2005, when Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China visited India, the two countries have gone through 13 rounds of bilateral negotiations over the issue. A round was held just last month, with no results. <br />“The China-India border has got to be one of the most continuously negotiated borders in modern history,” said M. Taylor Fravel, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is a leading expert on China’s borders. “That shows how intractable this dispute is.”<br />The Famous Galden Namgyal Lhatse, popularly known as Tawang Monastery was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in the year 1680-81. The monastery stands on the spur of a hill, about 10,000 feet above sea level and has ravines in the south and west, narrow ridge on the north and gradual slope on the east. It offers a commanding and picturesque view of the Tawang-chu valley. From a distance it appears like a fort as if guarding the votaries in the wide valley below. Tawang monastery is the largest of its kind in the country and is one of the larges t monasteries in Asia. Though it has the capacity for housing about seven hundred monks, the actual number of resident lamas (monks) at present is a little more than 450. This monastery is the fountain-head of the spiritual life of the people of this region.<br />The approach to the monastery is from the north along the ridge. Just near the entrance to the monastery there is a building housing the dung-gyur mani from where the water is fetched for use in the monastery. To the south of its is the kakaling, the entrance gate. The kakaling is a hut-like structure with its two lateral walls made of staone. It serves as a gate. The ceiling of the kakaling is painted with Kying-khors (Mandalas). The inner walls are painted with mural of divinities and saints. After passing through the kakaling there is a big gate further south which is without any door.<br />Further south stand the main gate of the monastery, which is fitted with huge doors and is set in the northern wall of the monastery. It is about 925 feet long and the height varies from about ten to twenty feet. There is another gate near the southern and of this wall. It is fitted with a huge door. Near it there are two slits in the wall to see out through all along the outer side of the eastern wall connecting this gate with the kakaling. It is said that the yarn given by the Vth Dalai Lama to Merak Lama enclosed the area bounded by the four walls.<br />A paved path runs from the main gate toward rear of the monastery and leads to a stone slabs court. Religious dances and outdoor ceremonies are held in this court. The entire eastern half of the monastery is covered with sixty residential quarter's called (Sha/Hut) for housing the resident monks. Each of these dormitories has been constructed by a group of villagers on voluntary basis. They also carry out the repairs and are responsible for its maintenance.<br />A three storied building stands on the western side of the court. It is the par-khang (Library). All the holly scriptures including. A long two-storied building flanks the southern side of the court. A part of this building is used as store for the provisions of the monks. The other part is occupied by the Dra-tsang buk and his entourage. A two storied building, on the eastern side of the court is called Rhum-Khang which is used for cooking the food-offerings for the rituals as well as refreshments for the monks on ritual days.<br />The most imposing building of the monastery is the assembly hall known as Dukhang. It is a three-storied building standing on thenorthern side of the court and houses the template and the Labrang (The establishment of the Abbot.) The inner walls of the Dukhang. are painted with murals of various divinities and saints. The altar occupies the entirenothern wall of th hall. On the left of the alter is the silver casket wrapped in silk containing the Thankas of Goddes Dri Devi (Palden Lhamo) the principle deity of the monastery, which was given to Merak Lama by the Vth Dalai Lama. The said painting came to be known as Ja-Droi-Ma, which means it had warmth of a bird, which symbolized that the Thanka was of a living type.<br />A colossal richly gilded statue of Lord Buddha occupies the middle of the northern side. It is seated on a platform and its body, rising up, terminates in a huge head above the first floor. It is the largest image of the monastery also has a Center for Buddhist Cultural Studies where young monks are taught Arithmetic, English and Hindi besides traditional monastic education.<br />In brief, this monastery is simply awe-inspiring and majestic in its appearance and grandeur. A visit of Tawang Monastery is most spiritually refreshing experience.<br />China is living in interesting times. So, let’s visit their current problems…<br />A US-trained former Tibetan guerrilla who waged a long campaign against the Chinese says peaceful protests and international pressure are the only ways to end the deadly unrest in Tibet.<br />“The Dalai Lama will never change his ‘middle way’ (of more autonomy but not independence) and or the path of non-violence,” 73-year-old Norbu Dorje, who was trained by the CIA nearly half a century ago, told AFP.<br />“Most Tibetans will follow what the Dalai Lama says, but there are many young people who want to demonstrate violently. But this will not work,” he said.<br />Which leads to the current protests in Tibet and China’s response…<br />Led by Buddhist monks, protests had begun peacefully in Lhasa early last week but erupted into rioting on March 14, drawing a harsh response from Chinese authorities.<br />Hundreds of paramilitary troops aboard at least 80 trucks were seen traveling along the main road winding through the mountains into southeastern Tibet. Others set up camp and patrolled streets in riot gear, helmets and rifles in the town of Tiger Leaping Gorge, a tourist attraction in Yunnan province bordering Tibet.<br />Farther north, the largely Tibetan town of Zhongdian, renamed Shangri-la a decade ago, was swarmed by 400 armed police. Many carried rifles and what appeared to be tear gas launchers. Residents walked freely among the military, and there was no sign of a daytime curfew.<br />The troop mobilization was helping authorities reassert control after the broadest, most sustained protests by Tibetans against Chinese rule in decades. Demonstrations had flared across Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces in support of protests that started in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.<br />China has also blocked any foreign media coverage and their state run tv has portrayed the protesters as violent and out of control from the beginning. We really don’t know what is going on over there right now in any true detail.<br />Tibetans have struggled for many decades to achieve independence from foreign domination. Although demonstrations have occurred before, resulting in no apparent change in the status quo, the difference this time can be attributed to the age of the protesters.<br />They are members of a younger generation, who, having grown up during an era of stepped-up Chinese suppression of Buddhism, have not been properly exposed to its tenets. Which explains the use of violence, which is against Buddhist teaching.<br />Restraint from killing is the first of 10 precepts that a Buddhist undertakes as a vow during his ordination.<br />“But it is not only school but the form of upbringing itself,” Mr. Tsering said. “And all qualified Buddhist masters were educated before 1959, and that generation is passing away.”<br />A slight period of leniency was allowed in the late 1980s, “but we now are back to Cultural Revolution days,” he said, referring to Mao Zedong’s violent campaign in the late 1960s to enforce strict ideological conformity to his rule.<br />Breaking the line of direct master-to-disciple spiritual teaching means that younger Buddhists “don’t receive full instructions, and when you miss them, you can’t get them back,” said Marilyn Goldberg, chairwoman of ancient studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, who has helped found the Tibetan Buddhist Center on Capitol Hill.<br />China is actually reaping the fruits of it’s own policy.<br />“There is an irony here,” Mr. Tsering said of the sporadic violence by the youthful protesters. “While some of the incidents that have taken place can be said to be non-Buddhist, they do it for the promotion of their faith. At the collective level, they are doing it out of desperation.”<br />Ill treatment of monks spurred them on, he said.<br />Buddhism, which is more often seen as a philosophy and way of life than a religion, has at its root the belief that acts have consequences. Virtuous actions affect the environment positively, and negative or violent acts cause suffering, in what is known as the law of karma, or fate. The attainment of enlightenment, or state of grace, can only be achieved through virtuous acts that then can influence the course of a person’s life and hence benefit the world.<br />“You talk to some lamas, and you hear them say Tibetans are reaping karma from their past feudal system,” said Ms. Goldberg. She suggests that even suicide is considered a “nonvirtuous” act in Buddhist teaching.<br />“The idea that you are willing to take on bad karma in doing something nonvirtuous means you obviously are choosing the most skillful means to achieve an end despite the fact you are incurring negative karma.”<br />Ritual practices in Buddhist teachings are “quite distinct” among various schools, said Lucinda Peach, associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University, but “the everyday ethics are the same.”<br />It’s important “to recognize there often is a disparity between the ideal of religion and practice on the ground,” Ms. Peach said. “We have many examples of this: when violence by monks in Burma got out of control, and similarly in Sri Lanka. It happens when peaceful methods have been tried and failed and nothing has changed.” That is when people’s sense of dispossession and lack of alternatives wins out, she said.<br />“Tibetans are people, too, and people can only be pushed so far before they pick up a gun and fight back,” said writer and social activist Maura Moynihan. “Buddhism is about peace and nonviolence, but there is only so much you can stand. It’s all very complicated … the Dalai Lama says, ‘I can’t tell people what to do.’ “<br />“If the situation goes beyond control, I don’t think His Holiness will have any qualms about stepping down,” Mr. Tsering said. “He has three commitments. The first being promotion of human values, the second promotion of interreligious understanding, and the third is Tibet.”<br />Another interesting turn of events caused by the protests and China’s reaction is the candidate from the opposition ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Frank Hsieh, has gotten a lift in his presidential election bid, who previously seemed headed toward a humiliating defeat.<br />Beijing’s crackdown on Tibetan protesters has given the ruling-party candidate a chance to portray the Nationalists as pro-Beijing weaklings who could not defend the island’s sovereignty.<br />Beijing considers self-governing Taiwan a renegade province and hopes to one day reunite it with the mainland.<br />“As we look at Tibet, we must think about our own fate,” Mr. Hsieh said this week. Yesterday, he suggested that a vote for more-China-friendly Nationalists could make Taiwan “a second Tibet,” Reuters news agency reported.<br />Mr. Ma’s party advocates eventual unification with China, while Mr. Hsieh’s seeks independence.<br />Mr. Ma warned against comparing Taiwan to Tibet, which has just elected Taiwan’s opposition candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, which is promising to expand economic ties with China while protecting the island from being swallowed up politically by its giant communist neighbor.<br />Ma and Hsieh have both said they want a less confrontational relationship with China. But they were divided on how best to deal with Beijing, which presents both a huge opportunity for the island’s powerful business community and a looming threat to its evolving democracy.<br />Ma has based his campaign on promises to reverse the pro-independence direction of outgoing President Chen Shui-bian and leverage China’s white-hot economic boom to re-energize Taiwan’s ailing high-tech economy.<br />He has proposed a formal peace treaty with Beijing that would demilitarize the Taiwan Strait, 100-mile-wide waterway that separates the two heavily armed sides. But he has drawn the line at unification, promising it would not be discussed during his presidency.<br />Economically, he wants to lower barriers to Taiwanese investment on the mainland – it already amounts to more than $100 billion – and begin direct air and maritime links between the sides.<br />Ma is particularly interested in expanding the China-Taiwan high-tech connection, which every year sends billions of dollars’ worth of Taiwan’s advanced components to low-cost assembly plants along China’s rapidly developing east coast.<br />That interest resonated with businessman Wang Wen-ho, who cast his ballot for Ma at a Taipei high school.<br />Taiwan and the mainland split amid civil war in 1949, but China still considers the island to be part of its territory. Beijing has threatened to attack if Taiwan rejects unification and seeks a permanent break.<br />Taiwan is concerned china might try the same thing with Taiwan that they are doing in Tibet. However, even if they are thinking about it, I believe they would wait until after the Olympics.<br />The recent disturbing events in Tibet and China’s heavy handed response to Tibetan protests reveal the current state of political leadership in China and the timidity of international response.<br />Recently, the international community expressed moral outrage against a similar crackdown on Buddhist protests in Myanmar (Burma) with some tourism organizations and academics calling for tourism boycotts against Myanmar. The same people, usually so strident, are strangely muted in response to China. <br />The Chinese repression of Tibetan protest is depressingly familiar as a classic response of a totalitarian government to internal dissent. China’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics was viewed optimistically as an opportunity for a new, more open Chinese society to be on full view to the world. However, a history of the modern Olympics reveals that when a one party dictatorship hosts an Olympic Games the authoritarian leopard never changes it spots. <br />In 1936, when Nazi Germany hosted the Berlin Olympics, persecution of Jews and political opponents never ceased but merely became less blatant for a few months. When Moscow hosted the Olympics in 1980, the Soviet regime continued its occupation of Afghanistan and its persecution and imprisonment of political and religious dissidents. During the 1936 and 1980 Olympics, media coverage was controlled and sanitized by the Nazi and Soviet regimes. Consequently, it is hardly a surprise that while China’s police and security apparatus continues its repression of religious dissidents like the Falun Gong and a crackdown on dissent in Tibet months before the Olympics, the Chinese government restricts media coverage in China. <br />The major difference between 2008 and past Olympic years is that banning and gagging the media is not the easy option it once was. The Olympics today is as much a media event as a spectacle. Modern media coverage is global, pervasive, instantaneous and demanding of access. China took a risk in accepting the hosting of the 2008 Olympics knowing that it would be in the media spotlight not just for the Olympic Games alone but as a nation on show for this year. China’s attempted media blackout imposed on Tibet could actually do China’s image more harm than good as hard news, open reporting and facts are replaced by speculation and claim on both sides of the China-Tibet divide. <br />Despite the growing sophistication of Chinese society, its embrace of technology and international business, the Chinese government’s propaganda message on events in Tibet remains almost as crude and oafish as it was in the days of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution. China’s blaming of the “Dali Lama Clique” for the problems in Tibet is nonsensical when the Dali Lama himself publicly calls for peace and restraint amongst Tibetans and opposes boycotts of the Beijing Olympics. If the Chinese government was politically and media savvy the current problems would have presented an opportunity for a joint effort between the Dali Lama, his supporters and the Chinese government to jointly address the problems in Tibet in the full glare of positive international publicity. China has done the opposite and the issues in Tibet, obfuscated by a media blackout, have rapidly descended into a crisis which will potentially cloud the 2008 Olympics and deny China’s tourism industry it’s much-hoped for Olympic tourism dividend.<br />China has an opportunity to escape the perceptual quicksand into which it has fallen but it will take inspired leadership and reversal of old ways to repair the damage its actions have caused China’s overall international image and its appeal as both an Olympic venue and a tourism destination. China would be well advised to adopt an approach which will not lose national face. The international community is too paralyzed by its awe and fear of China’s economic, political and military power to protest effectively against China’s actions. Conversely, international tourists do have the power to vote on China’s actions by their absence, if they choose to do so. This is not an advocacy of a tourism boycott but many tourists may fear traveling to China under the current circumstances. <br />A smart Chinese leadership will express its appreciation of the Dali Lama’s call for the Beijing Olympics to continue and for a peaceful resolution of the Tibetan crisis. In the spirit of the Olympic year, it be in China’s interests to call a conference in the full glare of international publicity to negotiate a resolution which includes the Dali Lama. Such an approach would mark a massive paradigm shift for China’s leadership. However, there is much at stake. China is counting on tourism growth as a major element in its economic future and this year China knows its international image is at stake. <br />The Chinese place great value on “face.” The Chinese government’s current actions in relation to Tibet are losing the government face and have plunged China into perceptual crisis. In Chinese, the word crisis means “problem and opportunity.” There is now a chance for China to seize an opportunity which may help resolve China’s Tibetan problem and its international image simultaneously, but it requires rapid changed lateral thinking on the part of its political leadership. China’s much anticipated tourism business growth from the 2008 Olympics is currently under threat because of the odium linked to China’s current actions in Tibet. A rapidly changed approach could rescue a very challenging situation for China.<br />[David Beirman is the author of the book “Restoring Tourism Destinations in Crisis: A strategic Marketing Approach” and is the foremost eTN crisis expert. He may be reached via the email address: email@example.com.]<br />INDIAN ECONOMY HAS MADE great strides in the years since independence. In 1947 the country was poor and shattered by the violence and economic and physical disruption involved in the partition from Pakistan. The economy had stagnated since the late nineteenth century, and industrial development had been restrained to preserve the area as a market for British manufacturers. In fiscal year (FY--see Glossary) 1950, agriculture, forestry, and fishing accounted for 58.9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP--see Glossary) and for a much larger proportion of employment. Manufacturing, which was dominated by the jute and cotton textile industries, accounted for only 10.3 percent of GDP at that time. India's new leaders sought to use the power of the state to direct economic growth and reduce widespread poverty. The public sector came to dominate heavy industry, transportation, and telecommunications. The private sector produced most consumer goods but was controlled directly by a variety of government regulations and financial institutions that provided major financing for large private-sector projects. Government emphasized self-sufficiency rather than foreign trade and imposed strict controls on imports and exports. In the 1950s, there was steady economic growth, but results in the 1960s and 1970s were less encouraging.<br />Beginning in the late 1970s, successive Indian governments sought to reduce state control of the economy. Progress toward that goal was slow but steady, and many analysts attributed the stronger growth of the 1980s to those efforts. In the late 1980s, however, India relied on foreign borrowing to finance development plans to a greater extent than before. As a result, when the price of oil rose sharply in August 1990, the nation faced a balance of payments crisis. <br />The need for emergency loans led the government to make a greater commitment to economic liberalization than it had up to this time. In the early 1990s, India's post-independence development pattern of strong centralized planning, regulation and control of private enterprise, state ownership of many large units of production, trade protectionism, and strict limits on foreign capital was increasingly questioned not only by policy makers but also by most of the intelligentsia.<br />India's population continues to grow at about 1.8% per year and is estimated at one billion. While its GDP is low in dollar terms, India has the world's 13th-largest GNP. About 62% of the population depends directly on agriculture. <br />Industry and services sectors are growing in importance and account for 26% and 48% of GDP, respectively, while agriculture contributes about 25.6% of GDP. More than 35% of the population live below the poverty line, but a large and growing middle class of 150-200 million has disposable income for consumer goods. <br />India embarked on a series of economic reforms in 1991 in reaction to a severe foreign exchange crisis. Those reforms have included liberalized foreign investment and exchange regimes, significant reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers, reform and modernization of the financial sector, and significant adjustments in government monetary and fiscal policies. <br />The reform process has had some very beneficial effects on the Indian economy, including higher growth rates, lower inflation, and significant increases in foreign investment. Real GDP growth was 6.8% in 1998-99, up from 5% in the 1997-98 fiscal year. Growth in 1999-2000 is expected to be around 6%. Foreign portfolio and direct investment flows have risen significantly since reforms began in 1991 and have contributed to healthy foreign currency reserves ($32 billion in February 2000) and a moderate current account deficit of about 1% (1998-99). India's economic growth is constrained, however, by inadequate infrastructure, cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, and high real interest rates. India will have to address these constraints in formulating its economic policies and by pursuing the second generation reforms to maintain recent trends in economic growth. <br />India's trade has increased significantly since reforms began in 1991, largely as a result of staged tariff reductions and elimination of non-tariff barriers. The outlook for further trade liberalization is mixed. India has agreed to eliminate quantitative restrictions on imports of about 1,420 consumer goods by April 2001 to meet its WTO commitments. On the other hand, the government has imposed "
import duties of 5% on most products plus a surcharge of 10% over the past 2 years. The U.S. is India's largest trading partner; bilateral trade in 1998-99 was about $10.9 billion. Principal U.S. exports to India are aircraft and parts, advanced machinery, fertilizers, ferrous waste and scrap metal, and computer hardware. Major U.S. imports from India include textiles and ready-made garments, agricultural and related products, gems and jewelry, leather products, and chemicals. <br />Significant liberalization of its investment regime since 1991 has made India an attractive place for foreign direct and portfolio investment. The U.S. is India's largest investment partner, with total inflow of U.S. direct investment estimated at $2 billion (market value) in 1999. U.S. investors also have provided an estimated 11% of the $18 billion of foreign portfolio investment that has entered India since 1992. Proposals for direct foreign investment are considered by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and generally receive government approval. Automatic approvals are available for investments involving up to 100% foreign equity, depending on the kind of industry. Foreign investment is particularly sought after in power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration and processing, and mining. <br />As India moved into the mid-1990s, the economic outlook was mixed. Most analysts believed that economic liberalization would continue, although there was disagreement about the speed and scale of the measures that would be implemented. It seemed likely that India would come close to or equal the relatively impressive rate of economic growth attained in the 1980s, but that the poorest sections of the population might not benefit.<br />