Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on March 19, 2008
The other day I wrote about the impact the Tibetan crackdown might have on politics in Taiwan. It will be interesting to see if there’s fallout in India, too. India’s government has been trying to improve relations with Beijing for a while. So folks in New Delhi might have been pleased yesterday after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao praised India for its support during the current crisis in Tibet. “China appreciates the position taken by the Indian government to handle the ‘Tibet independence’ activities masterminded by the Dalai clique,” Wen said at a press conference yesterday at the close of the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing.
Ironically, Wen’s words of support might only encourage Indian critics of China. Opposition politicians have been using the Tibet issue to attack the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. According to this report in the Hindu, opposition lawmakers staged a walkout from the Parliament on Monday to protest the Indian government’s Tibet policy. One member of the BJP (the Hindu nationalist party ousted by Singh’s Congress Party in the last election) referred to “ethnic genocide” in Tibet. Another opposition figure criticized “ethnic cleansing” in the region. And former Defense Minister George Fernandes called for politicians to show their support for Tibetans.
The anti-Beijing rhetoric can get pretty heated. See, for instance, this column in Newsweek by Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science at Indiana University who argues in favor of taking a harder line by easing the pressure on Tibetan exiles in India: “If India wishes to be considered a great power, it needs to display a greater degree of independence and not kowtow to Beijing.” Ganguly goes on to hit the hot-button issues sure to rile Indian nationalists, such as the 1962 war between China and India (won by the Chinese) and the ongoing border disputes between the two countries.