Penpa Tsering

Gangtok: Penpa Tsering, the President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), who was in Sikkim on Saturday said China doesn’t trust anyone and spends more money on internal security than external security.

“In China, there is a lot of trust deficit between the people who rule and people who are being ruled. It bats for harmonious relation with its neighbours, but how can you have harmonious relationship if you are always provoking your neighbours and other nations,” Tsering added.

Addressing the Sikkimese media at a press conference in Gangtok on Saturday, EastMojo questioned Tsering whether the CTA sees Sikkim as a safe haven compared to Arunachal Pradesh.

Tsering said, “The reason for me not going to Arunachal Pradesh is not due to pressure from the Chinese government. It’s a voluntary step. We didn’t want to create any embarrassment for the Indian government.”

The CTA President announced his decision to visit to Kalimpong, Darjeeling in North Bengal and Sikkim from October 18-26. The move comes after the CTA President cancelled his visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

“My visit to Sikkim is strictly apolitical, and Sikkim incidentally happens to share its border with Tibet. Maybe it will be taken in a different sense, but I am here on a mission to meet the Tibetan people,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tibetan activist and poet Tenzin Tsundue is also in Gangtok as part of his initiative ‘Walk in the Himalayas’, having travelled for 67 days to Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, before reaching Sikkim. His next visit is to Arunachal Pradesh.

The message from the Tibetan activist is loud and clear- “to create more awareness about the 70 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet and it’s impact on Indian Himalayas, and also the growing security on India”.

Speaking about the Chinese reaction to the recent visit of Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu to Arunachal Pradesh, Tsundue termed it “uncalled for and an act of bully”.

“India’s claim of Arunachal is based on McMahon Treaty. India has worked its foreign policy but in terms of China, we have to be stronger,” Tsundue said, who is on a week-long visit to Sikkim.

On the CTA President not travelling to Arunachal Pradesh, Tsundue said, “The CTA President is supposed to take care of 10,000 people living in Arunachal. He felt his travel there could be uncomfortable for the Indian government. When India is saying this (Arunachal Pradesh) is our place, there should be no second thoughts about Indians or Tibetans travelling there and I am going there definitely.”

Asked whether the two had coordinated their visit, the CTA President denied any link with Tsundue’s visit.

“I have nothing to do with Tenzin Tsundue. He is a Tibetan individual who works for the cause of Tibet. He has the freedom to visit wherever he wants. I represent the Tibetan people and the administration. It’s part of my job to meet and visit my people and understand their problems. Our visits are not coordinated in anyway,” Tsering added.

On the call for banning Beijing 2022 Olympics, a global level protest against China hosting the event, President Tsering said, “Any country that has violated human rights against its own people, when other countries participate in an event organised by such a country, you become part of the system, you become an accomplice. It is important to send a message.”

“The 2008 Olympics was a coming out party of the Chinese government on a global scale. The Dalai Lama or the CTA never objected then; we supported the Olympics. We have always hoped that when China becomes part of the international community, it becomes more responsible. But it didn’t turn out as we expected. So now is the right time to send the message to the Chinese government that this is not acceptable,” he added.

Similar to the CTA President’s schedule, Tsundue is also travelling to Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Siliguri in North Bengal before travelling further to Arunachal Pradesh.

During his visit to Gangtok, Tsundue also screened the film ‘Escape of the Dalai Lama from Tibet’ to the Sikkimese populace, inclusive of Tibetan refugees, publicly in Gangtok on October 22.

Tsundue is also scheduled to visit the controversial Rumtek Monastery, the seat of 17th Karmapa in Sikkim.

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