Cornered globally for its expansionist moves and mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak, China is feeling the heat yet again.
In what is being seen as a massive blow to Dragon’s ulterior designs, the Trump administration has awarded a sum of nearly USD 1 million to the Tibetan government-in-exile which operates from Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, the base of the Dalai Lama.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded a sum of $997,124 to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) to “strengthen the financial and cultural resilience of the Tibetan people and contribute towards a sustained resilience of the Tibetan people’s economic and cultural identity.”
This award is being hailed as a milestone as it is the first time any funding agency affiliated with the US government has awarded development assistance directly to the CTA. The Cooperative Agreement was made on June 23.
“The awarding of direct funding to the CTA fulfils a long desired aspiration and represents the culmination of many years of effort since my first term. I want to thank the USAID and hope this award paves the way for a more substantial funding relationship between the USAID and the CTA,” said CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay.
The USAID award aims to support the Tibetan Resilience Project (TRP) where funds will initially go towards Tibetan language revitalization and capacity building of Gangjong Development Finance (GDF). The language programme will be rolled out over a two year period and would include production of Tibetan animation and audio books, publication of literature for students studying in classes VI to XII, development of a language learning portal besides an annual summer language and cultural immersion program targeting Tibetan youth in the ages 18-30 and primarily residing outside South Asia.
The Dalai Lama is a strong advocate of preserving Tibetan culture, language and knowledge including psychology, physics, logic which he says originally came from Nalanda.
The GDF component will involve development of a strategic business plan, purchase and customisation of an appropriate MIS, technical assistance and training.
An apostle of peace, compassion and ahimsa, the Dalai Lama has been leading the fight for identity of the Tibetan people. Living in India ever since he fled Tibet in 1959 following Chinese invasion, the Dalai Lama has reiterated time and again that “China may have occupied Tibet but it can never control our minds”.
Wishing the Dalai Lama on his 85th birthday recently, the US State Department’s South and Central Bureau thanked India for hosting the spiritual leader and Tibetans since 1959. Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, while extending birthday greetings to the Dalai Lama, said that sadly the aspirations of His Holiness and the Tibetan people remain unfulfilled as the oppressive Chinese regime continues its disgraceful campaign of persecution.
Best wishes to His Holiness the @DalaiLama on your 84th Birthday. As we celebrate this day in your 60th year in exile, we continue to stand with you and the people of Tibet in your efforts for true autonomy and freedom of religion, language & culture in Tibet. Happy Birthday! pic.twitter.com/RVrd7Wnpw0
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 6, 2019
Incidentally, while India and China were trying to resolve the fallout of the violent clashes at Galwan Valley between Indian Army and the PLA troops, the Dalai Lama asked both the countries to live side-by-side. “Both (are) powerful nations yet neither one can destroy the other one, so you have to live side-by-side,” he said in an interview on Time 100 Talks Series. “Historically, China was a Buddhist country and India was the land of Buddha,” he said.
Strategic affairs experts are seeing the USAID funding as a very strong message being sent across to Xi Jingping by the United States.
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“From the days of the CIA, the Tibetan undergrounds being trained in Colorado to now, this is indeed a major departure from the kind of neutrality that the United State has maintained on the issue all these years. More so, if one sees this in conjunction with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent statement. The message is loud and clear that irrespective of political affiliation, America is ready to support Tibet’s cause,” explains author Prabal Dasgupta who is a keen observer of China affairs.
The US administration had recently imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials for restricting access of foreigners to Tibet.
Today I announced visa restrictions on PRC officials involved in restricting foreigners’ access to Tibet. We will continue to seek reciprocity in our relationship.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 7, 2020
USAID’s direct funding to the CTA is being closely watched by China as the move comes at a time when the relations between the two countries have gone for a nosedive with President Trump not just blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic but also banning Huawei and ZTE operations in the United States over national security threat concerns. US has also been extremely critical of China’s misadventure at Galwan Valley and recent developments in the South China Sea.
Beijing on its part has been accused of riding roughshod on the voices of Tibetan people, jailing them forcefully, diluting Tibetan local language with Mandarin Chinese dialect and even made pictures of the Dalai Lama illegal, insisting all along that Tibet has always been an intrinsic part of China.