Facing Chinese facts

South Asia continues to appease the People's Republic, to its own detriment.

First of all, the bitter facts of history: in the political tumult of post-Second World War Asia, newly independent India found its strategic and security interests dramatically compromised by two equally momentous and unforeseen developments, the creation of an Islamic state in the north-west of the country (1947-48), and the full-fledged occupation of Tibet and East Turkestan by communist China (1949-50). New Delhi's inability to prevent or reverse either development effectively ceded the initiative to China in both regions. In particular, it allowed China to exploit South Asian rivalries, and draw all of India's neighbours (except Bhutan and the Maldives) into its diplomatic camp. More than 50 years later, still enduring the tremendous toll of defending thousands of kilometres of hostile land borders, New Delhi has yet to come to terms with this disadvantage and find a way forward.

Many Tibetans who lived through the 1959 uprising will tell you how, during the holocaust of repression which followed, they fully expected mighty India (which Tibetans, like Buddhists in other neighbouring countries, regard as the Arya-bhumi) to come to their aid. They were living in another world, and paid the heaviest price imaginable for their isolation from modern geo-political reality. But so too were the new rulers of India if they thought that Chinese military occupation of the heart of the Asian continent would be compatible with Jawaharlal Nehru's 'Panchshila', and that Tibet would effectively remain a neutral zone separating two friendly giants.

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Himal Southasian