Tibetan govt-in-exile hails ‘US gift’, counters China

Resolve Tibet Act recognises India’s stand on McMahon Line
Dalai Lama with the US Congressional delegation in Dharamsala on Wednesday.
Dalai Lama with the US Congressional delegation in Dharamsala on Wednesday.Photo | PTI

BENGALURU: The visit of the US Congressional delegation led by former United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday to meet Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama is a “gift of the US Congress to the Tibetan people,” said Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the democratically elected President of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which runs from Dharamsala.

In a telephonic conversation with this newspaper, Tsering said, “The ‘Resolve Tibet Act’ — which is recently passed by the US Senate and the Congress, and is awaiting President Joe Biden’s assent — not only talks about Tibet as an independent State, but also counters China’s disinformation propaganda on the Tibetan history, its people and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”

“The US is the first country to acknowledge the facts of our history. Every other country mentions Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China,” he said. Tsering, who has just returned from his US visit, said that the Act is a “new tool in the hands of the Tibetan government (in exile) to work with other countries depending upon their political systems.”

The Resolve Tibet Act is important for India too, said noted Tibetologist and strategy expert Claude Arpi. It states that Tibet was an independent State and not part of China. “This is important for India which, since the 1950s, has had a long and tense border relationship with China. It became worse particularly after the Ladakh confrontation in May 2020,” said Arpi.

“From time immemorial, India’s northern boundary has been the Indo-Tibetan border. The Eastern sector, known as the McMahon Line, was agreed upon by British India and Independent Tibet in March 1914. The ‘Resolve Tibet Act’ acknowledges Tibet as an independent State, which sanctifies the McMahon Line and is recognised by India as the Line of Actual Control between the two neighbours, but is contested by China,” Arpi explained.

He added that “if one accepts the Chinese contention that Tibet has been part of it since time immemorial, the McMahon Line loses its validity”. In March last year, the US, in a bipartisan resolution reaffirming the state of Arunachal as Indian territory and condemning China’s provocation in South Asia, had recognised the McMahon Line as the international border between India and China.

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