Recent violence in Tibet has strained the delicate diplomatic balance between China and two of its neighbors: Nepal and India. The two countries have accepted Tibetan refugees fleeing Chinese rule, but have often restricted pro-independence activities to appease their giant neighbor.
Anti-Chinese protests broke out in Tibet March 10 on the 49th anniversary of an abortive 1959 uprising against Chinese rule . Since then, Nepal and India have had to move even more carefully as the peaceful protests erupted into riots. In recent days, Chinese officials said the protests have spread to neighboring provinces.
China is facing increased international attention this year as it prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Nepal detained at least 20 Tibetan protesters, including Buddhist monks, on Thursday as they held anti-China protests, Reuters reported. Baton-wielding riot police chased and arrested groups of protesters as they shouted, "stop killings in Tibet."
At least 44 Tibetan exiles shouting "Free Tibet" were detained in the Nepal capital on Monday after police broke up two protests outside a Unied Nations complex, using sticks and tear gas.
The UN said earlier this week it was concerned over the excessive use of force by police against Tibetan protesters in Nepal. Tibetans said they wanted to pressure the UN to investigate a crackdown by Beijing against the March protests.
Some 20,000 Tibetan refugees have lived in Nepal for decades after large numbers starting coming over the icy Himalayan mountain range in 1959. The exiled Tibet Buddhist political and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, called on Sunday for an international probe into the situation in Tibet, which he also fled in 1959, Voice of America reports.
India, Nepal, and Tibet share ancient cultural affinities. Indian missionaries originally brought Buddhism to Tibet in the 10th and 11th centuries. In turn, Tibet served as a repository of rare Buddhist teachings.
Nepal, with only 28.9 million people, is sandwiched between India's 1.1 billion and China's 1.3 billion people. Some 2,500 Tibetans arrive each year after fleeing across the Himalayas. Nepal officially recognizes its neighbor's "One China" policy that sees Tibet and Taiwan as part of China. Most such refugees pass through Nepal to Dharamsala in northern India, the home of the Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile.
Authorities in Tibet have arrested 24 suspects for "grave crimes" after troops cracked down on the riots, Reuters reports. Fallout from the turmoil is clouding diplomacy and Olympic preparations. The prosecutor's office in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa said the suspects face charges of "endangering national security as well as beating, smashing, looting, arson, and other grave crimes" in riots last Friday.
The crisis in Tibet has forced New Delhi into a difficult diplomatic balancing act that pits its improving ties with Beijing against its longstanding relationship with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who has made India his base of operations for more than half a century.
The presence of both the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala has been a source of friction between China and India since the 1950s. India's response has been to provide sanctuary to what Beijing calls the "Dalai clique," but demands Tibetans refrain from anti-Chinese activities in India. The world's two most populous countries have been trying to improve relations after decades of mistrust resulting from a 1962 border war.
Indian police arrested around 80 Tibetans protesting at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on March 14, reports the news portal Phayul.com. Another 100 Tibetans were detained after planning to march from Dharamsala to Tibet.
The Dalai Lama has called on his young followers to refrain from upsetting India, the International Herald Tribune (IHT) reports. The Dalai Lama has advocated special autonomous status for Tibet rather than independence from China. Some of the younger exile groups have advocated independence, openly deviating from the Dalai Lama's "middle way." The schism in the Tibet community, the IHT reports, reflects its awkward position as a guest in India.
The Dalai Lama has polarized Chinese and Western views of the Tibet crisis, reports The Christian Science Monitor. Top Chinese official Zhang Qingli has described Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, as a "wolf wrapped in monk's robes, a devil with a human face and a beast's heart."
The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his advocacy of nonviolent resistance to Chinese rule in Tibet.
China said on Thursday that antigovernment riots had spread to other provinces since sweeping through Tibet, the Associated Press reports. Armed police and troops poured into distant towns and villages in Tibetan areas of adjacent provinces, with demonstrations continuing to flare. China has also ignored calls for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, with its Foreign Ministry saying it was "seriously concerned" about a planned meeting between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Dalai Lama. The Foreign Ministry called on Mr. Brown not to offer support to Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader.