Tibetans Demonstrate As Chinese President Due to Arrive
NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Hundreds of Tibetan exiles, some with hands bound in chains, staged a protest march today hours before the start of the first visit by a Chinese head of state to India.
Police armed with riot gear and water cannon kept a close watch as about 700 women, children and monks in scarlet robes protested the visit by President Jiang Zemin.
Police blocked the demonstrators near their shantytown district near Delhi’s old city, about 11 miles from the Chinese Embassy. The embassy itself was cordoned off by police barricades.
Jiang’s three-day visit is aimed at consolidating an easing of tensions with India that still linger from a 1962 war over disputed territory high in the Himalayas.
Indian officials say the two countries are likely to agree on a delineation of the cease-fire line and further reduction of troops.
They also expect new trade and shipping agreements between the two Asian giants, which together are home to one-third of humanity.
Jiang’s visit follows the Manila summit of Pacific rim leaders and a meeting with President Clinton that some see as a bid to boost his standing among contenders for China’s leadership.
India only reluctantly agreed to the visit, officials said. Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s weak 5-month-old government is struggling with domestic economic and political issues.
Tibet is always near the top of the agenda when India and China meet. India is the home of the Dalai Lama, who was both the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet until he fled in 1959 to escape a Chinese crackdown.
Beijing says Tibet has been its territory for centuries, but Tibetans say they enjoyed de facto independence.
India restricts the Dalai Lama’s political activities as a condition for allowing him and more than 100,000 followers to remain as political refugees.
China is unhappy that the Dalai Lama, who won the 1989 Nobel Peace prize, runs a self-proclaimed government-in-exile in the Indian city of Dharmsala, from where he conducts a worldwide campaign for Tibetan autonomy.
The exiles say China has flooded Tibet with ethnic Chinese settlers in an effort to suffocate Tibetan culture and its unique form of Buddhism.
As part of today’s protest, a young monk representing the Panchen Lama _ second in rank only to the Dalai Lama _ was paraded in a cage by two other demonstrators dressed as Chinese soldiers holding toy guns.
``We wanted to show the repression that is going on in Tibet right now,″ said Tenzing Norbu, one of the organizers.
Tibetan exiles say the real Panchen Lama was abducted shortly after the Dalai Lama named him in 1995 as the reincarnation of the last Panchen Lama.