It is time for New Delhi to review its old ‘one China’ policy stance

Source: Live mint

Relevance: The article highlights one of the policy measures available with India, against Chinese aggression.

Synopsis: India should adopt tougher positions on Tibet and Taiwan as it recalibrates ties with Beijing after China’s border aggression


Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly congratulated the Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday. It was the first time since 2015 that the Prime Minister publicly greeted the Dalai Lama. The move has naturally raised a whole set of questions about India’s China policy at large. 

  • India’s decision not to extend formal wishes to the Chinese Communist Party on its centenary should be seen together with a greeting for the Dalai Lama. The Chinese president has warned that foreign powers will get their heads bashed if they attempt to bully or influence the country.
  • China’s regime is far less secure than it seems on the surface, so that aggression is its preferred nature. It is under greater scrutiny for its conduct in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. It will become even more defensive in Tibet and Taiwan. 
Why should India change its policy towards China?

Tibet is at the very heart of a major Sino-Indian geopolitical fault line. Beijing is keen to take control of the post-Dalai Lama era in Tibet.

  • Firstly, China has rejected demands for Tibetan autonomy and made it clear that any successor of the Dalai Lama must have its approval. 
  • Secondly, disturbed by the efficiency of India’s special frontier force which included Tibetan refugees in India, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is trying to recruit more Tibetans in its ranks.
  • Thirdly, India’s recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet was contingent upon China’s acceptance of Tibetan autonomy. Since 2010, India has not been using this term in its official statements and documents. 
  • Fourthly, China is refusing to abide by agreements of the past. If Beijing is not sensitive to India’s core interests, New Delhi should signal its resolve to move away from old arrangements. Modi has done well to signal that a rethink may be in the offing, but something substantive is needed now.
  • Fifthly, India’s Tibet policy only satisfies China. The younger generation of Tibetans is dissatisfied with India’s jumbled approach. Many in India questioned the value of a policy that is not reciprocal. 
  • Lastly, India’s position in the past was hopeful that such a policy would result in the normalisation of Sino- Indian ties and an eventual resolution of the border dispute. China’s mean behaviour has broken those hopes. 
Way forward
  • It is time for New Delhi to follow-up a policy response that challenges the Chinese regime, stimulates its Tibetan spiritual leadership on the question of succession, and mobilises global opinion on the issue.
  • As India recalibrates its China policy post-Galwan, Tibet and Taiwan are two issues that need a serious relook. It is time to acknowledge that the old framework has collapsed along with the breakdown at the border.


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