America’s strategy in Tibet, Even bordering Nepal at risk of being affected

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has met his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar and other top officials in New Delhi this week.

It is analyzed that this meeting has further strengthened the strategic relationship between the United States and India. By signing four foundation agreements with the United States, India has already shown that it has become a strategic partner of the United States.

It is necessary to discuss an unexpected meeting during Blinken’s visit. At a hotel in Delhi, Blinken met with Ngodup Dongchung, a representative of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama. The Biden administration has given a clear signal of its support for Tibetans, even if China is irritated. During the meeting, Dongchung also thanked Blinken for his support of the United States.

Apart from Dongchung, another Tibetan representative, Geshe Dorji Damdul, also attended the roundtable discussion with Blinken, according to media reports.

Blinken’s meeting with Dongchung has naturally angered China. On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded that China would not tolerate any foreign interference in its internal affairs. He also called on the United States to honor its commitment not to interfere in China’s internal affairs in the name of Tibetan affairs.

Chao also responded that formal contacts between the Dalai Lama’s envoy and US officials had violated US commitment to Tibet as part of China. He also said that China would do everything possible to defend its sovereignty.

Blinken’s meeting with the Tibetan envoy is the latest in a series of steps the United States has taken in support of Tibetans over the past few years.

For example, the Tibet Policy and Support Act, issued by the United States in December 2020, states that only Tibetans have the right to choose a successor to Dalai Lama, and that Beijing should not interfere. The new law stipulates that if Chinese authorities interfere in the selection of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, they will be banned as human rights violators under the Universal Magnitsky Act.

Earlier, the US Congress passed the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act in 2018. The law is intended to give US diplomats and other officials, journalists and other citizens access to various parts of Tibet. China has barred Americans from entering various parts of Tibet, and the United States has opposed the policy.

But China has argued that foreign diplomats and the general public are not allowed to visit Tibet because of the potential for altitude sickness. In the West, however, they argue that China has not restricted access to Qinghai Province, which is higher than Tibet.

Even though Tibet has been made part of a united China, Beijing still seems sensitive about Tibet. Fearing that if foreigners move freely in Tibet, it will have a negative impact on locals, so China has allowed them to travel to Tibet en masse only under the supervision of a guide.

At first glance, it seems that the US has adopted various policies for the benefit of the Tibetans, but it is not difficult to understand that this is part of a geopolitical game against China. Xiao Che, an assistant fellow at the China Tibetology Research Center, claimed that the Tibet issue was a geopolitical tool used to disrupt China’s national security and create a friendly international environment for Tibet’s economic development.

Michael J. Green, senior vice president of the US think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the West was trying to prevent China from doing so because of Tibet’s geopolitical location. He mentions that Britain played the Tibet card against China in the early twentieth century and that the Japanese sent spies to Tibet before the war between China and Japan. He recalls that US spies provided guns to Tibetans during the civil war in China before China became a people’s republic. Earlier, the British Empire had tried to gain influence by taking Tibet as a middle ground to stop the Russian Empire.

So it is not surprising that China is sensitive about Tibet. But after the end of World War II and the founding of the People’s Republic of China, influential countries such as Britain and the United States completely ignored the Tibetans’ desire to maintain Tibet’s independence. And the United States and the West have committed Tibet to China as part of their one-China policy.

Now it is not difficult to understand that the US intervention in Tibetan affairs in violation of that commitment is a geopolitical game to stop China’s rise.

But from a realistic point of view, China has completely secured Tibet. According to Shiva Shankar Menon, India’s former national security adviser and China expert, for the first time in its long history, China has secured all its land borders and Beijing is working to strengthen its waters.

To further strengthen that security, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the Chinese in Tibet

Various instructions have been given for the battle. Buddhist monks have begun to show loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi. He has also emphasized on building structures to accommodate people in the border villages keeping security in mind. During his recent visit to Tibet, Xi conveyed the message that Tibet’s security is important.

Therefore, Panktikar is of the opinion that China’s excessive concern over the West’s attempt to divide Tibet is only a matter of public consumption. The West is not in a position to tear Tibet apart from China, but will continue to raise the issue of Tibet to put pressure on China and advance its siege strategy.

As it shares a border with Tibet, Nepal has also become a geopolitical playground between the West and China. Nepal has a history of playing a role in suppressing the Khampa insurgency. Even now, China attaches great importance to access to Nepal through Tibet for the development of its Belt and Road Initiative project.

At the 4th Tibet Tourism and Culture Exhibition in Lhasa two years ago, Chi Chala, president of the Tibet Autonomous Region, described Tibet as an important gateway to South Asia through Nepal.

Addressing the event, which was attended by Nepali businessmen, he also referred to an agreement reached between China and Nepal in 2017. According to the agreement, the construction of Chilong International Dry Port on the Nepal-China border and the construction of China-Nepal cross-border economic cooperation zone were also mentioned. That is a project under BRI.

This means that China, which is trying to expand its influence in South Asia, has put Nepal at the center. Considering this, the Western powers are taking various initiatives to prevent Nepal from falling under the influence of China and are also urging India to stop the influence of China in Nepal.

The issue of about 20,000 Tibetan refugees in Nepal is also a part of the geopolitical game of the West. The West is pressuring Nepal to ease its surveillance of Tibetans, to register and document Tibetans, to respect their human rights, and to make arrangements for Tibetan refugees seeking refuge in third countries.

In December, the United States introduced the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 to protect the culture of Tibetan refugees in various countries, including Nepal. It is not difficult to understand the geopolitical game of this American law, which seems to have a sacred purpose of religious and cultural protection.

Meanwhile, there are indications that the West is taking the initiative to visit the Dalai Lama in Nepal. But Nepal, which has barred Tibetan refugees from celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday, is unlikely to allow him to visit.

In any case, it is a fact that Tibet and its adjoining Nepal are becoming a playing field for the geopolitical game between the US-led West and China. The burning question now is whether Nepal can use this game in its national interest.

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