6 July 2013

INDIA'S ENERGY INTEREST IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

Author: Amit Singh*
Date: July 04, 2013

India is the fourth largest consumer of energy in the world after USA, China and Russia. India’s economy is growing rapidly and to sustain this growth uninterrupted energy supply is essential. The Planning Commission of India in the 12th Five Year plan (2012-17) has underlined that coal dominates the country’s energy mix with a robust 52% share in primary energy consumption, followed by oil at 30% and gas at 10%. Other sources include 2% hydroelectricity and less than a per cent nuclear energy. Import dependence of oil consumption is currently about 75%, which is projected to increase to 80% by 2016-17. Import component of gas is currently ruling at 19%, slated to increase to 28% by 2016-17. Similarly, coal import is expected to rise from about 90 million tons at present to over 200 million tons in 2016-17.


As per the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), India imported approximately 64% of its oil from the Middle Eastern countries in 2012 (see diagram). But due to political instability in the region and ‘political compulsions’ (US is still urging India to delink its energy requirement from Iran), New Delhi has found it prudent to diversify its energy resources and take a look eastwards. Even though the availability of oil and gas in the South China Sea (SCS) has only somewhat limited potential to satisfy India’s energy quest in comparison to West Asia, it is still an attractive option for India’s energy security and related diplomacy. Significantly, on November 23, 2011 during an address on Security dimensions of India’s Foreign Policy at the National Defence College (NDC),Ranjan Mathai, Foreign Secretary of India underscored that “the South China Sea remains crucial to our foreign trade, energy and national security interests”.

The South China Sea is the world's second busiest international sea lane. More than half of the world's super tanker traffic passes through these waters. The main reason behind the scramble for the two island chains (Spratly and Paracel) is their richness in natural resources, especially oil and gas. On April 19, 2011 China’s Global Timespublished a special report that termed the region as the “Second Persian Gulf”- a repository of 50 billion tons of crude oil and more than 20 trillion cubic meters of natural gas (about twenty five times China’s proven oil reserves and eight times its gas reserves). EIA estimates that the South China Sea contains approximately 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in proven and potential reserves.

On September 14, 2011, Beijing objected to ONGC Videsh’s (OVL) venture in Vietnam and asked India to refrain from entering into deals with Vietnamese firms exploring oil and gas in the disputed SCS over which China claims sovereignty. India responded to the Chinese objections to its companies scouting for hydrocarbons in the SCS, saying that its cooperation with Vietnam is in accordance with international laws. During the External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna’s visit to Hanoi in September 2011, India underlined that the OVL will go ahead with oil and gas exploration in the disputed region or the two offshore blocks (127 and 128) which Vietnam claims as its own. In 2011, India and Vietnam also signed a three-year deal covering investment and cooperation in energy exploration, production and refining.

The ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL) provides the following information regarding their exploration activities in Vietnam:

Block 06.1 

Block 06.1 is an offshore Block located 370 km south–east of Vung Tau on the southern Vietnamese coast with an area of 955 sq km. The exploration License for Block 6.1 was acquired by OVL in 1988. After subsequent assignments and transfers of Participating Interest (PI) between the parties to Block 6.1 and Petro Vietnam, the present holdings of PIswith effect from October 17, 2011 are ONGCVidesh 45%, TNK Vietnam BV 35% (Operator) and Petro-Vietnam 20%. Lan Tay field in the Block has been developed and the field started commercial production in January, 2003. OVLshare of production from the project was 2.023BCM of gas and 0.036 MMT of condensate during 2011-12 as compared to 2.249 BCM of gas and 0.038 MMT of condensate during 2010-11. Lan Do field in the Block is under development with first gas expected in October 2012. Wells Lan Do-2P and Lan Do-1P have been drilled and completed between January 14, 2012-April 18, 2012. Presently, subseaconstruction works are in progress and first gas from Lan Do field is expected in October 2012.OVL’s share of the development expenditure in the block was about USD 342.78 million till March 31, 2012. 

Block 127 

Block 127 is offshore deep water Block, located at water depth of more than 400 meters with 9,246 sq km area in Vietnam. The PSC for the Block was signed on May 24, 2006. OVL holds 100% PI in the Block with Operatorship. OVLhas acquired 1,150 sq km 3D seismic data in the Block and the interpretation of the seismic data has been completed. Location for drilling of exploration well was identified and the well was drilled in July 2009 to a depth of 1265 mts. As there was no hydrocarbon presence, the Company has decided to relinquish the block to Petro-Vietnam. OVL has invested approx USD 68 million till March 31, 2010. 



Block 128 

Block 128 is offshore deep water Block, located at water depth of more than 400 metres with 7,058 sq km area in Vietnam. The PSC for the Block was signed on May 24, 2006 and the extension to the exploration Phase-I for the Block 128 was valid till June 15, 2012. OVLholds 100% PI in the Block with Operatorship. 1650 sq km of 3D seismic data was acquired and interpreted in the Block by your Company and location for drilling of exploration well was identified. Drilling was attempted on the location during September 2009; however, the well could not be drilled as the rig had difficulty in anchoring at the location due to hard carbonate sea bottom. Meanwhile, OVL has found solution to the anchoring problem and asked for extension to the exploration phase to undertake review of additional G&G data to find out a viable location for drilling to fulfil thePSC commitment. Petro-Vietnam (PVN) has suggested ONGC Videsh to continue the exploration programme in the block for additional two years with effect from 16th June, 2012 by revisiting the geological model with the integration of data likely to be available with the assistance from PVN. Till March 31, 2012,OVL has invested about USD 49.14 million in the Block.

It is interesting that the OVL has been working in this region since 1988 especially on block 06.1 but only recently has China started opposing India’s oil exploration in theSCS. However, Russia’s Gazprom is also exploring oil and gas in the Vietnamese block 112 and 129-132 in the South China Sea since September 11, 2000 but Beijing has never uttered a single word against the Russian exploration.

On December 3, 2012, while responding to the media questions on South China Sea, the Chief of Naval Staff, India, Admiral DK Joshi, underlined that “not that we expect to be in those waters very frequently, but when the requirement is there for situations where the country’s interests are involved, for example ONGC Videsh, we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that.” In response to Admiral Joshi’scomments, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said “we hope relevant countries respect China’s sovereignty and national interests”, and emphasised that China opposes any unilateral energy exploration and development activities in the disputed areas in the South China Sea.

The issue at stake here is that if India really supports freedom of navigation in theSCS, then it will be necessary for India to assert, back up and safeguard its own interests in the region. The SCS is not only a strategic maritime link between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, but it is also a vital gateway for shipping in East Asia. 80% of China’s energy imports and Japan and the two Koreas (South and North) oil supplies pass through these waters. Almost 55% of India’s trade with the Asia-Pacific transits through the SCS. Therefore, it is quite evident that India derives considerable economic benefits from the SCS being an area where all actors enjoy a level playing field. The recent upsurge in tensions in the SCS represents a security flashpoint with global consequences. The dispute has the potential to turn into a military conflict that could end up affecting the peace and security of the entire region and any disruption or conflict relating to SLOCs (Sea Lanes of Communication) will hurt India’s energy and economic outlook severely. As it may compel New Delhi to adopt some alternative route to channelize their economic activities in the region which could force time constraints, increase overheads and consume more energy.

It is a fact that India is a growing military power and a growing economy and to sustain eight to nine per cent of economic growth annually, New Delhi has to diversify and looks for new avenues for its energy resources. It is interesting to note that after getting an observer status in the Arctic Council now, New Delhi is in the process of acquiring an icebreaker for a whopping $144 million for conducting scientific and business exploration in the polar region as the Arctic is also reasonably rich in hydrocarbons.

As far as hydrocarbon resources in the South China Sea are concerned, India has not invested enough in the region. Till March 31, 2012, the OVL had invested around $460 million in the Vietnamese Blocks and this can be increased. However, the repository of oil and gas elsewhere in the SCS also attracts New Delhi and in some way or the other, India is also dependent on this region for its energy security as India is shipping oil from Sakhalin (Russia) to Mangalore through this sea route. New Delhi is also importing a significant amount of coal from SCS littorals, namely Indonesia and the Philippines, through this maritime channel only. India’s OVL is also eyeing stakes in one of the three joint ventures announced in the Arctic region by the Russian state oil companyRosneft. If India gets this project, then New Delhi will have to ship oil through the South China Sea as this is the shortest sea route for India to transport oil from the Arctic region. At present, OVL produced 2.023 BCM (Billion Cubic Metres) in 2011-12 of gas as compared to 2.249 BCM during 2010-11 form the Block 06.1 of Vietnam which is more than what the OVL is producing from Sakhalin-I, AFPC-Syria and BC-10 of Brazil. And if China controls these waters, it will be difficult for India to continue its unencumbered economic and energy ventures through this region.

India’s national interest lies in the freedom of navigation and any disruption or conflict relating to SLOCs will hurt New Delhi severely as the South China Sea channel is significant for its energy security. It is therefore, an opportune time for India tochannelize its foreign policy with the littorals of the SCS….substantively, rather than symbolically.

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(*Dr Amit Singh is an Associate Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy or National Maritime Foundation. He can be reached at amitsinghjnu@gmail.com.)


What happened to India’s economic miracle?

The elephant untethered.
By William Dalrymple Published 05 July 2013 12:01

A bustling street in the northern city of Srinagar. Photograph: Michele Borzoni / Terra Project / Picturetank

This article is from the current issue of the New Statesman, out now. To purchase the full magazine - with our signature mix of opinion, longreads and arts coverage, plus an essay by John Bew on Syria, a critical appraisal of Vermeer by Craig Raine, a piece on what makes us human by Alexei Sayle, and columns by Laurie Penny, Douglas Alexander, Peter Wilby, Rafael Behr, Will Self and Mehdi Hasan - please visit our subscription page.

An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions
Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen
Penguin, 448pp, £20

Patience, wrote Ambrose Bierce in The Devil’s Dictionary, is a “minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue”. The economists Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze quote Bierce in their new book on the Indian economy, An Uncertain Glory:

India has seen a lot of this alleged virtue. There has been an extraordinary tolerance of inequalities, stratification and caste divisions . . . There has been the silent resignation of Indian women. There has been patient endurance of the lack of accountability and the proliferation of corruption. And – of course – there has been adaptive submission by the underdogs of society to continuing misery, exploitation and indignity.

An Uncertain Glory is a major work by two of the world’s most perceptive and intelligent India-watchers writing today. In it, they examine the uncertain future of the country’s economy at a moment when initial optimism about the spectacular rise of “New India” is giving way to more a nuanced understanding of the difficulties that still lie ahead.

Sen is among the greatest minds of our time. A winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, a former master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and now the Thomas W Lamont University Professor at Harvard, he is regarded with such reverence in academia that he has probably been awarded more honorary degrees than any other person alive: there were about 100 on his CV at the last count.

His co-writer, Drèze, though lesser known in this country, is also a celebrated development economist. Of Belgian origin, he became an Indian after decades of living in the country and has taught at both the London and Delhi Schools of Economics. He is regarded as one of the most knowledgeable writers on famine, child health and poverty, on which subjects he advised the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, before resigning in despair when he saw that all his suggestions were being ignored. This is the third book Sen and Drèze have co-written and is by far the most important and chilling.

Their thesis is simple: India’s failure to equal the success of China’s hyper-development is due in large part to the failure of the state to provide “essential public services – a failing that depresses living standards and is a persistent drag on growth”:

Inequality is high in both countries, but China has done far more than India to raise life expectancy, expand general education and secure health care for its people. India has elite schools of varying degrees of excellence for the privileged, but among all Indians seven or older, nearly one in every five males and one in every three females are illiterate . . . India’s health-care system is an unregulated mess. The poor have to rely on low-quality – and sometimes exploitative – private medical care, because there isn’t enough decent public care. While China devotes 2.7 per cent of its gross domestic product to government spending on health care, India allots 1.2 per cent.

An Uncertain Glory comes at a time when observers worldwide have begun to recalibrate their expectations of India’s future. The economic boom, which began in 1991 and took off in the late 1990s, provoked a miniboom of New India books, some far better than others. First off the blocks was Gurcharan Das, a former CEO of Procter & Gamble, whose India Unbound in 2001 became an international bestseller and made a convincing case that the future was India’s: all that was needed was further deregulation and a stripping away of the economic coils – the “licence Raj” – that were tethering the Indian elephant to the ground and the country’s future as an economic superpower was assured.

Role of the Indian Military in Disasters


July 5, 2013

The 21st century has seen an increasing number of natural disasters with alarming intensity – the 2001 Bhuj earthquake; the 2004 tsunami; the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir; heavy rainfall in Mumbai in 2006; the 2008 Bihar Kosi river flood; the August 2010 cloud burst in Leh; the September 2011 Sikkim earthquake; and, most recently, in June, the unprecedented flash floods and cloudbursts in Garhwal, parts of Kumaon and Nepal, and Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh. Each of these disasters has seen the active involvement of the armed forces in the relief operations.

The military’s primary task is to guard the nation’s borders. In matters domestic, the military is supposed to be a second respondent, except in the case of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidences. Theoretically, the principle is “last to enter and first to leave”. However, when theory is matched with practice, this does not seem to be the case. According to the Administrative Reforms Commissions, the military needs to be taken off from the loop of disaster management gradually. While it may sound sensible on paper, it is not really possible in practice. The civil administration is usually not properly geared up for an effective response. It needs to be noted that discipline and efficiency is the first demand in disaster response and relief tasks, which are often dangerous missions and quite naturally the military brings in order in post-disaster operations. Wherever there is danger, the military has a constitutional duty to undertake tasks and missions. The required wherewithal including the command, control and communication, are available with the field formations. Preparing for military operations other than war (MOOTW), of which disaster is the main component will be a critical part of military training.

Though the government is aware of the urgent need for better disaster response mechanism, the overall trend has indicated that the level of preparedness at both the centre as well as the states is inadequate. The nodal agency for coordination of relief, response and overall natural disaster management is under the Central Ministry of Home Affairs (see Table 1 below). However, when any disaster breaks, it is the Armed forces under the Ministry of Defence that is called upon to intervene as an ‘aid to civil authority’.

Table 1 Nodal Ministries for Disaster Management

DisastersNodal Ministry
Earthquake and TsunamiMHA/Ministry of Earth Sciences/IMD
FloodsMHA/Ministry of Water Resources/CWC
CyclonesMHA/Ministry of Earth Sciences/IMD
DroughtMinistry of Agriculture
Biological DisastersMinistry of Health and Family Welfare
Chemical DisastersMinistry of Environment & Forests
Nuclear DisastersMinistry of Atomic Energy
Air AccidentsMinistry of Civil Aviation
Railway AccidentsMinistry of Railways

(Source: National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India, June 23, 2011, available at http://ndma.gov.in/ndma/nodalministries.htm.)

The Disaster Management Act of 2005 provides the blue print for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) at the Centre, the State Disaster Management Authorities and the District Disaster Management Authorities. The state and the district level are the weak links in disaster management efforts. It appears that the civil administration has “got used to military and central help as a norm”.

A tendency to over-rely on the military has stunted the initiative, responsibility and accountability of the civil government and officials. The case of Operation Sadbhavana in Jammu and Kashmir is a case in point. It is this vacuum in delivery and governance that the armed forces, due to their ‘spirit to deliver’ training, have filled. But we need to ask hard questions. In the case of disasters, why should the relief commissioners and civil administration not be held accountable for flouting norms of construction, ignoring drainage congestion and thereby exacerbating conditions leading to man-made disasters? We are aware of large areas of the country that experience floods regularly. Yet the civil administration is found wanting in its prevention and preparedness, which along with response, relief and recovery, are the constitutional duties and responsibilities of the civil administration. The military has no role in regulating the implementation of these principles. This ‘bad governance’ is the root problem of recurring threats caused by disasters. The Arthasastra of Kautilya in book 4 on the “The Suppression of Criminal”, under chapter three section 78 on remedial measures during calamities such as floods, in sutras 4.3.6-9 says:

One Hundred Years of Kautilya's Arthasastra


IDSA Monograph Series No. 20
2013

This work establishes the need for relevance of Kautilya's Arthasastra to contemporary security studies. It shows Why not much progress has been made by identifying reasons for its neglect. The paper provides an overview and an update of various academic and scholarly controversies on its age and authorship, and also on the misperceptions which abound on Kautilya himself. Overall, Kautilya has been treated unfairly in the disciplinary fields of political science, realpolitik, geopolitics and statecraft. It is not that Kautilya invented human behavior, which was never idealistic, but he only observed truths that still survive or even thrive today in the enduring principles of statecraft and diplomacy.

Since independence, political leaders, policy makers and academics have acknowledged his ideas and have argued for the revival of his work for contemporary times at par with thinkers from other civilizations. The work also makes a case for scholars and policy makers to revisit Kautilya in an a-political manner. There is a need for value addition by identifying the opportunities and gaps in knowledge. This will facilitate reinterpretation of his work for contemporary times. This demands a new multidisciplinary impetus of research. Kautilya's contribution to political thought and theory needs to be placed at a high pedestal. This is possible now using his work which encompasses disciplines of linguistics, political science and theory, history, military science, defence and security, international relations, internal security, intelligence studies, management and leadership, to name a few. All nations and especially countries of the Asian subcontinent sharing ancient civilisational traditions need to claim him.
About the Author

The author joined IDSA in 2005. He has been researching on non traditional security, Tibet and military issues with a number of publications. He is at present researching on indigenous historical knowledge with focus on “Strategic Vocabulary on the Art of War : An Interpretation of Kautilya's Arthasastra”. His other work on Kautilya includes “Relevance of Kautilya's Arthasastra”, Strategic Analysis, Vol.37, No.1, January-February 2013 and “Understanding Kautilya's Arthashastra: In Praise of Rote”, World Affairs: The Journal of International Issues, Vol.17, No.1, Spring (January-March 2013).

He is the co-editor of two forthcoming publications Indigenous Historical Knowledge : Kautilya and, Kautilya: Creating Strategic Vocabulary.

Manmonia's FSB: 3% of GDP

Surjit S Bhalla : Sat Jul 06 2013

The food security bill, sorry emergency ordinance, if implemented honestly, will cost 3 per cent of the GDP in its very first year

We have an emergency of the rarest order. The BJP stops Parliament and therefore the government passes an emergency privilege provided by the Constitution to pass the food security ordinance.

The bill, sorry ordinance, wants to provide food to the poor in order to eliminate poverty. This, according to the Congress, was Sonia Gandhi's dream, and indeed was part of the Congress manifesto in 2009. Again, if Congress spokespersons are to be believed, this is a pathbreaking attempt to eliminate poverty. It will give the poor a legal right to claim their 5 kg of rice, wheat or coarse cereals a month at the subsidised rates of Rs 3, 2, and 1 per kg, respectively.

This act-to-be follows the same pattern and motivation as the employment guarantee act passed in 2005. At that time, the Congress had claimed this would provide much-needed employment to the poor, that it was something "new" being offered. They never once mentioned that government-guaranteed employment was first provided by the state of Maharashtra, and since the early 1980s, it has been part of Central government schemes. The food security bill (FSB) is merely an extension of the public distribution system of foodgrains that has been in operation by all Central governments since the late 1970s.

The import of this is to partly nail the blatant spin (lie!) that the Congress government is adding to its list of scams. But they can be forgiven, because this is an election year and by all accounts, the Congress is desperate. From a policy point of view, the relevance is that Indian governments and polity have considerable experience with employment guarantee schemes, as well as food distribution schemes. What does this experience tell us?

Another claim by the Congress is that the FSB will provide a legal right to the poor for the food, just as MGNREGA has provided a legal right to the poor for employment. And the poor can sue the government for lack of food or jobs — surely, the most advanced welfare system in the world, and something India, and especially the Congress, should be justly proud of.

The NREGA has been in the works since 2005-06, and for all of India since 2008-09. So there is five years of concentrated experience with employment provision to the poor. Fortunately, to date, no rich and, especially, no poor person has sued the government for lack of employment, so it must be the case that the poor are fully satisfied and employed for at least the 100 days provided by the act. Then why is it that over two-thirds of the beneficiaries of the scheme were not only not poor in 2009-10, but their average consumption was 50 per cent higher than the average expenditure of the poor beneficiaries? And these non-poor doing back-breaking NREGA work were in the top third of the distribution! Only two conclusions are possible — the middle-class rich are not doing back-breaking work, or there is a lot of corruption in the NREGA scheme (the dictionary defines a scheme as "to make plans, especially in a devious way or with intent to do something illegal or wrong".) So that is why there have been no legal suits, even though there is lack of jobs for the poor (even the government admits to that fact) and the NREGA has not been able to spend the money allocated to it in any of the last five years.

There is little doubt that NREGA is plagued with corruption — what may be news to the "governance by ordinance" wallahs is that the PDS of food grains, whose operations the government will only multiply, is, on proven evidence, many times more corrupt than even NREGA.

Before proceeding further, I want to set up some ground rules for discussion of the FSB and the poor. In a recent panel discussion on CNN-IBN, noted food security expert and principal advisor to the commissioners of the Supreme Court, Biraj Patnaik, alleged that I "molested" poverty data. For long, I have held the belief that policy discussion should be centred on evidence, not ideology, and especially not, "you have to believe me because I am arguing for the benefit of the poor". Hence the title of my column, "No Proof Required". So when you look at the evidence presented in this article (above, below and in the table) please inform me which piece of data, or estimate, or conclusion, is incorrect, and whose evidence is proof of molestation.

The estimates contained in the table are from the recently released NSS consumer expenditure data for 2011-12. It presents calculations for the subsidy involved if governance by ordinance becomes law. Two columns are presented, one, a fact-based assessment of what happened in 2011-12, and the other, if the FSB was implemented faithfully, as I am sure the Congress, and Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi (hereafter Manmonia) would want to do. After all, they are honourable persons.

The simplest possible summary of the subsidy is as follows (tell me where I am wrong or mad or molesting). Assume the subsidy in year BFSB (before the bill) is 100. According to NSS data, only 45 per cent of the population was accessing the PDS in 2011-12. With the bill, it will be 67 per cent. So, based on greater coverage alone (the better for elections, my dear), the subsidy will increase to (100*67/44.5), or 150.

The NSS data states that in 2011-12, average PDS consumption was 2.1 kg per person per month. So, with greater consumption, the subsidy bill increases to (150*5/2.1), or 357.

But because India is growing so fast and can afford largesse, and it is Sonia Gandhi's explicit dream to introduce the FSB (and the Congress's manifesto promise), the subsidy per kg will increase from Rs 13.5 per kg to Rs 16.5 (with weighted market price staying constant at Rs 19, the subsidised price declines from Rs 5.5 to Rs 2.5 per kg.) This increases the subsidy to (357*16.5/13.5) 436.

PoK projects sweeten China, Pakistan ties

Ananth Krishnan

China and Pakistan on Friday signed deals to push forward a long-discussed economic corridor and to lay a first-of-its-kind fibre optic link from the Chinese border to Rawalpindi.

The deals were signed as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met China’s top leaders, and hailed the relationship as “higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the deepest sea in the world and sweeter than honey” during a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang here on Friday morning. “I am very proud having undertaken this visit to China as my first visit [overseas]” after taking over as Prime Minister, Mr. Sharif added.

The highlight of the eight agreements signed on Friday was a “long-term” plan to build an $18-billion economic corridor from Xinjiang on China’s western border to the Gwadar port. The two countries also signed a deal for a fibre optic link from Xinjiang to Rawalpindi. The 820-km link would cost $ 44 million, with 85 per cent of the financing coming from the Chinese, and take three years to complete, said officials.

Both the economic corridor and the fibre optic link will pass through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), underscoring China’s willingness to pursue projects in the region despite India’s objections.

Mr. Sharif was quoted as saying by Pakistani media that the Gwadar economic corridor may be given “special status through necessary legislation” to ensure its completion. He also called for an early completion of the repairing of the Karakoram Highway, which runs from Xinjiang through PoK.

Mr. Sharif met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday evening. Mr. Xi strongly backed deepening the “all-weather” ties between the two countries, describing the relationship as one of “good neighbours, friends, partners as well as brothers”.

“The partnership with Pakistan is a priority in China’s foreign policies,” Mr. Xi said.

The Afghan National Army

It’s Role in Internal Security
Lt Gen ® Asad Durrani

Foreign forces may leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. It is unlikely that the Taliban led insurgency would have been defeated by then, and it would be prudent to assume that the peace efforts to reconcile the Afghan factions would not have succeeded by that time. It seems that the task of ensuring security in the Country in that case would be passed on to the nascent Afghan National Army- possibly aided by the residual US/NATO forces. If the ANA was now to become the lynchpin for peace and stability that has eluded Afghanistan for over three decades, its potential to do so needs a dispassionate discourse.

In principle, security is not a ‘military only’ affair. The armed forces play a role, however important, in an overarching political framework. This cover is all the more critical when they are employed within the country. In counter-insurgency for example, the role of the military is specified, and limited, by the political objective: pacification, reintegration, or elimination of the insurgents; all depending on the environment. Force will be required to create favourable conditions and win time for the political leadership and the civil society to address genuine or perceived grievances of own people. These “Grundnorms” are also applicable to Afghanistan- especially in view of the country’s configuration.

Anyone ever wondered, what happened to the region once described by Toynbee as the “eastern crossroads” of history; primarily due to its geo-political location but probably also since the armed hordes that trampled over it, did it almost at will! After 1747, the year Ahmed Shah Durrani united tribes and factions that constitute today’s Afghanistan, whatever motives he might have had; one effect that he did create was that this highway for the invading armies became for them a quagmire. If Toynbee was not an historian he might have named it the “eastern Bermuda Triangle”; only this one sucks in empires and armies, but the consequences are not much different. For this outcome alone, the founder of the country deserves to be remembered as Ahmed Shah ‘Baba’.

Anyone halfway familiar with Afghanistan would understand the algorithm of this transformation. The country has all possible fault lines: geographic; demographic; tribal; even sectarian and cultural. It became a political entity through a grand bargain amongst its components. It is best held together with the broadest possible consensus. And most relevantly, it cannot be subjugated unless all its major centres of resistance were overpowered. That explains the logic of consulting an all inclusive assembly, the Jirga, before deciding matters of national import. And that may have also led to the pattern we are now so familiar with. Foreign invaders face no resistance from the conventional armies of Afghanistan but they fail to subdue tribesmen who wage unconventional warfare in their respective territories. 

The fallout of the Soviet invasion and the predicament of the still unfinished American misadventure continue to resonate. I however find the fate of the first British expedition in 1842 more illustrative. When it reached Kabul, the Khan of Kalat famously quipped: “and how would it get out of there”. That one didn’t, not because any “army” reduced it to one man. It died a slow death inflicted upon it by the local militias. Of course, the sole superpower of that time had to save face. It took “revenge” by undertaking another incursion and bribed its way to Kabul and back.

One may well argue that whereas the foreign invaders fail because of Afghans’ native penchant to defend their freedom, a “national” force due to its indigenous credentials need not suffer the same fate. But then one only has to recall the post-Soviet plight of the PDPA Army; much better equipped, trained and led than the ANA’s hired guns. It is true that the Mujahideen could not dislodge the regulars from entrenched positions- a lesson they learnt at considerable cost at Jalalabad; or, that they had to pay their way to “conquer” Khost, as the elder Haqqani did. But then it is also true that the PDPA was confined to a few big cities while the resistance controlled the countryside. As any military strategist would know; the side that enjoys freedom of manoeuvre ultimately wins the war. Incidentally, contrary to the common belief, Najeeb’s Army did not vanish because the Soviets ceased their support. His regime collapsed when allies like Dostum deserted him after his fateful statement that he would abdicate in favour of a Mujahideen led government. Indeed, it is the unity of command, all the way to the national leadership that makes an army functional.

A dysfunctional government in Kabul may be just one, even if the more serious, of the handicaps the ANA would face. The ethnic divide that has aggravated a great deal during the last two decades may be equally disabling. Maintaining a healthy ethnic mix is a national army’s compulsion. Given a mutually acceptable arrangement it may also work. In the present environment it is a recipe for disaster. Employed against the Taliban, many of its Pashtun soldiers would desert, some of them after using their weapons and skills against their non-Pashtun officers. And just in case the “peace enforcers” were needed up North, one better be mindful of the massacres committed by the Taliban in Mazar-e-Sharif and the systematic asphyxiation carried out by the former Northern Alliance post 9/11. I do not know the extent of Taliban ingress in the ANA’s ranks, but one can reasonably assume that after all the multicoloured assaults- green over blue and red over whatever- loyalty of many Pashtun soldiers would be suspect. 

The ANA as an institution would also carry a baggage; at least for a time. The Mujahideen used to pejoratively name the PDPA Army: a “communist tool”. The ANA too is likely to be seen as an imperial instrument, especially when operating under the US/ NATO cover. One may well argue, as someone has, that how come that the Pakistan Army, a legacy of the Raj, was not similarly labelled? I am not sure if I have the correct or the whole answer, but I think that a people’s psyche is strongly influenced by its historical experience. In the Subcontinent the force of arm has always been feared, even respected; and in the “marshal areas” it is envied and eulogised. I do not know of many other countries where the soldiers proudly wear emblems touting that their unit, when serving a foreign power, massacred its own people. I believe the Afghans, though pragmatic when dealing with power, are too proud to worship it. 

Is Afghanistan ready to defend itself?


Evidence is mixed as to the readiness of Afghanistan's Army and National Police to assume the lead in planning and fighting – with the summer combat season likely to be the first big test.

By Howard LaFranchi, Staff writer / June 25, 2013

Afghan National Police trainees conduct a training exercise at Camp Zimmerman outside Kabul, Afghanistan.


The expression on the face of the Afghan National Army sergeant makes this much clear: He couldn't be prouder of the spanking-new, million-dollar, gun-mounted vehicle that NATO trainers are teaching him to operate.

Sgt. Nezamuddin Stanekzai, an Afghan soldier, is learning how to operate a new, US-supplied gun-mounted vehicle.

"My main goal is to learn very well the operation of these vehicles and their guns so I can defeat our enemy," says Sgt. Nezamuddin Stanekzai as he leans out its door frame, his maroon beret adjusted to sit on his head just so. "I am ready to defend my country!" he declares, signaling two thumbs up.

Stanekzai, radiating confidence as he trained recently at the sprawling Pol-e-Charkhi army base outside Kabul, probably is ready. He is among those Afghans who tested high enough to land in the nascent Mobile Strike Force unit – a $1 billion program designed to leave Afghanistan with a top-notch rapid-reaction force.

Now, the United States, NATO, and the Afghan government itself are gambling that the rest of the country's 344,000 security forces are also ready – or ready enough – to take the lead in defending the entire nation from Talibanforces and Islamist insurgents. As of June 18, NATO turned over to the Afghans the security lead for 100 percent of the country, and US and NATO troops officially shifted to an advise-and-assist role throughout Afghanistan – a role set to draw to a close with the end of NATO's combat mission in December 2014.

Evidence is mixed as to the readiness of Afghanistan's Army soldiers and National Police to assume the lead in planning and fighting the war – with the summer combat season likely to be the first big test. There's been progress, to be sure. Most of the Afghan Army brigades – as many as 20 of 26, NATO officials claim – are capable of working on their own, up from one a year ago. And the Afghan people are becoming more confident in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), polls show. 

"The people are getting more confident, and part of that is what they have seen from the ANSF" in the initial weeks of the summer fighting season, says Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, chairman of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program.

How ready the Afghan forces actually need to be may depend in part on reconciliation talks expected to begin soon between the government of President Hamid Karzai and representatives of the Taliban. Qatar has agreed to host the negotiations, which Mr. Karzai announced June 18 and which US officials described as an "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned initiative." If talks proceed apace – Karzai was already expressing misgivings about the talks the day after announcing them – fighting and violence on the ground in Afghanistan may diminish, easing the demands on the Afghan government's forces and perhaps smoothing the path to a US-NATO exit, some American officials have suggested.

On the other hand, advancing peace talks could mean more violence, at least in the short term, as fighters look to advance bargaining positions – or if some aim to derail the talks, some US officials and experts warn. On Tuesday, for example, Taliban gunmen launched an attack near the presidential palace and CIA offices in Kabul, reportedly killing three security guards after using fake security passes to gain entrance to the highly-secured diplomatic zone. It was the first "complex attack" since reconciliation talks were announced last week.

Pakistan and Afghanistan: Thy Neighbors, Thy Rivals

By Pratyush
July 5, 2013


The head of the Afghan army, General Sher Mohammad Karimi has suggested that the conflict in Afghanistan could end “in weeks” if Pakistan told the Taliban to cease the insurgency. Going far beyond an implicit suggestion of Pakistan’s influence over the militant group, General Karimi openly accused Islamabad of giving shelter to Taliban leaders and stoking the insurgency in Afghanistan.

"The Taliban are under (Pakistan's) control – the leadership is in Pakistan," Karimi said in an interview with the BBC’s Hard Talk program, broadcast on July 3.

The allegations are the latest in a series of accusations leveled by Kabul at Islamabad and represent a new low in bilateral ties. Significantly, they come at a sensitive time, when international negotiations associated with creating a stable Afghanistan are delicately poised. Only last month, the Afghan government denounced planned talks between the U.S. and the Taliban in the Qatari capital of Doha, which have since been put on hold.According to reports, Pakistan played a crucial role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

The fact that the U.S. and Pakistan seem to be supporting peace talks with the Taliban despite the Afghan government’s strident opposition may have fuelled growing fears of being sidelined in the peace talks and in effect constraining its own ability to influence the outcome of such discussions. Indeed, according to Bruce Riedel, a former adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, the opening of the Taliban office, with the trappings of an embassy, in Qatar last month may have strengthened the hand of hardline elements within the Taliban as well as its Pakistani patrons.

In an op-ed in The Indian Express on July 3, Riedel wrote: “The Taliban's patrons, the Pakistani army and its ISI intelligence service, were pleased with the outcome. The Pakistani generals believe time is on their side in Afghanistan, that America has already lost the war and that their clients will prevail.”

Which is why Afghans were particularly outraged after Pakistan floated the concept of an Afghan power-sharing arrangement between Kabul and the Taliban as part of a peace talks "end game". In a meeting last week between Pakistani national security adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghan ambassador Umer Daudzai, Islamabad is reported to have suggested that Kabul adopt a form of federalism by ceding power in some Afghan provinces to the Taliban. That idea is anathema to the Afghan government, which has demanded that any peace talks with the Taliban be incumbent on the Taliban ending its violent campaigns and respecting the Afghan constitution.

More importantly, if reports of the Pakistani proposal are true, then it would suggest that there is little change in Islamabad’s strategy from the 1990s, when Pakistan used the Taliban as part of its grand bargain to maintain a favorable government in Kabul. Indeed, during the years of Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996-2001, the Taliban was seen as the perfect ally to keep Pakistan’s arch-rival and the elephant in the room – India – in check.

For five years, India remained in the wilderness, without diplomatic representation and little in the way of leverage. However, the toppling of the Taliban regime and installation of a friendly government under President Hamid Karzai led to a ratcheting up of Indian diplomatic and economic assistance in the last decade, much to Islamabad’s chagrin. With Afghanistan set to undergo a momentous security and political transition in 2014, Pakistan with its latest proposal seems to be hedging its bets by once again viewing the Taliban as an insurance policy against growing Indian influence in Afghanistan.

That strategy is fraught with risks and will almost certainly intensify geopolitical rivalries over Afghanistan and potentially destabilize the region. Pakistan’s evolving Afghan policy may also prove to be a litmus test for the newly elected government of Nawaz Sharif, which has vowed to chart its own foreign policy, traditionally the preserve of the security establishment.

Rather than engaging in a futile zero-sum game, India and Pakistan will do well to institute a dialogue on Afghanistan to better manage the period of heightened political and security uncertainty after 2014. Such a conception is hardly unrealistic given that India and China held their first standalone dialogue on Afghanistan in April, despite being regional rivals with competing interests.

Time for a Chinese Grand Strategy Reset

By Harry Kazianis
July 5, 2013

Over the last year, The Diplomat has been a true resource for those asking questions about American Grand Strategy — specifically, America's role in the world after its withdrawal from Iraq and soon Afghanistan.

Is America really pivoting to Asia or is Washington addicted to the Middle East? Can the United States forge a strong relationship with China devoid of conflict? Can a compromise be reached with Iran regarding its nuclear program?

While such questions are important, grand strategy is not just for the world's remaining superpower. Regional powers —especially those whose power and influence are on the rise— must also have some sort of overarching set of principles to guide their foreign policies over the long term.

It is with this in mind that scholars should begin to pay serious attention to China's long term foreign policy goals or grand strategy —not only for the Asia-Pacific, but, increasingly, on a global level as well.

China certainly has a tremendous amount of flexibility and potential when it comes to shaping a grant strategy that could serve it well. There is however one simple goal that must be at the center of any Chinese grand strategy — the reduction of tensions between China and its neighbors.

Over the last several years, various tensions have arisen between Beijing and its neighbors. The list is long and familiar to readers of this publication, from tensions with Japan in the East China Sea, to standoffs in the South China Sea. Often times, these disputes mix with nationalism and history to create an especially toxic brew. The end result: nations across the region are developing advanced conventional military capabilities to defend their interests. And let's not forget America's pivot — while supposedly not aimed at Beijing — nations of the Asia-Pacific and the wider Indo-Pacific understand America's hedging strategy all too well.

I would argue China has a clear path towards a grand strategy that would allow its leaders to transition to a consumption-based economy, allowing it to pull millions more out of poverty and develop a sustainable future. This grand strategy would prioritize deemphasizing overlapping territorial claims in its relations with its neighbors in words and deeds.

Now, no one is saying China would need to relinquish its claims in the South China or East China Seas. However, Beijing must follow a two-pronged strategy in order to reduce tensions and refocus the conversation from China attempting to become a regional hegemon to one of it striving to be a true "responsible stakeholder."

First, China's media strategy must change. Beijing must demonstrate a slow and subtle shift away from grandiose statements or wishful claims to more "win-win" statements. For example, instead of making declarations to the press that this or that territory is a "core interest," Beijing could make statements saying something to the effect that it recognizes there are various claims to places like the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and that both parties must work together to find common ground. Removing the needless banter and well-worn nationalistic catch phrases could go a long way to forging stronger ties. An alternative or complimentary media strategy could also see Beijing declare an "economics first" strategy. China would promote in the press and across diplomatic channels the forging of deeper economic ties, and lessen talk of areas where tensions like territorial claims damage relations. Beijing's new thinking could be promoted as a way to develop confidence building measures in the hope that in the future, compromises could be reached.

But a change in tone is only a first step. An adjustment in actions is also needed. Sending non-naval maritime assets or troops near disputed territory is only counterproductive. Little can be gained by such moves especially compared to what could go wrong — an such as an accident like the 2001 Hainan Island incident that would massively inflame tensions and make matters far worse. China would do far better to wind down such actions across the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific. This could be done quietly without fanfare. Sending assets to peruse territorial claims that could potential draw in the United States at a time when China's military is still developing is of dubious strategic value. There is no piece of disputed territory that is worth an accidental great power war. Period.

Get Ready for the Next China

July 5, 2013

The Next China is now at hand. Yet the United States remains fixated on the Old China, unprepared for major transformation in the world's second largest economy. The US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue slated July 10 to 11 in Washington, DC, provides a major opportunity for both nations to recast what could well be the most vital economic relationship of the 21st century.

China is most assuredly on the move. The debate over a strategic shift to a more balanced consumer-led growth model is over. The focus is on implementation. The 12th Five-Year Plan laid out the strategy - three pro-consumption building blocks of services-led job growth, urbanization-driven income leverage and a more robust social-safety net. But it was tough to get the ball rolling, especially in light of the inertia of China's deeply entrenched power blocs at the local government and state-owned enterprise levels.

China's new leadership under President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keiqang has broken the gridlock. With a series of stunning moves in the early months of their administration, China's fiscal and monetary authorities have been given new marching orders. The growth slowdown of early 2013 has not been countered by a typical Chinese proactive fiscal stimulus. Instead, the new leadership seems content with 7.5 to 8 percent growth in gross domestic product. Similarly, the central bank did not rush in to stem a liquidity crunch in June. Instead, it used the occasion to caution banks, especially "shadow banks," against returning to an undisciplined and excessive expansion of credit.

The message from this new approach to Chinese macroeconomic stabilization policy is clear: Gone are the days of open-ended hyper growth. Significantly, this message has been reinforced by an important political overlay. Xi's rather cryptic emphasis on a "mass line" education campaign aimed at addressing problems arising from the "four winds" of formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance underscores a new sense of political discipline directed at the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP is being urged to realign itself with the core interests of citizens and their need for fair and stable economic underpinnings.

This new mindset works only if China changes its growth model. A services-led growth dynamic, one of the pillars for a consumer-led Chinese economy, is consistent with a marked downshift in trend GDP growth. That's because services generate about 30 percent more jobs per unit of Chinese output than do manufacturing and construction - allowing China to hit its all-important labor absorption and social stability goals with economic growth in the 7 to 8 percent range rather than 10 percent as before. Similarly, a more disciplined and market-based allocation of credit tempers the excesses of uneconomic investments, necessary if China is to begin absorbing its surplus saving to spur consumer demand.

With China's new leadership embracing a very different approach to policy and politics, it has little choice other than to move ahead aggressively in implementing its consumer-led rebalancing. The United States needs to take that possibility as a given as it frames its approach to the upcoming dialogue with China. This raises four key issues:

- First, China's consumer-led growth presents the United States with an important opportunity. With the American consumer on ice for more than five years - underscored by average annualized growth of just 0.9 percent in inflation-adjusted consumption expenditures since the first quarter of 2008 - the US is in desperate need of a new source of economic growth. China is America's third largest and most rapidly growing export market. Washington negotiators should push hard on market access, ensuring that US companies and their workers have the opportunity to capitalize on China's transformation.

Tibet Freedom Movement Intensifies Through Incessant Self-Immolations

Dr Subhash Kapila, Paper No 5518 Dated 28-June-2013

The Freedom Movement in China Occupied Tibet may soon be heading towards a “Tipping Point” if Chinese forcible suppression of the peaceful freedom movement is not restrained. The incessant self-immolations with dying slogans of “Freedom for Tibetan People” and “Dalai Lama Must Return, refuse to die down despite Chinese suppression.

Recorded figures since 2009 till this month indicate that 120 Tibetan self-immolations have taken place. These self-immolations comprised 101 Tibetan males and 19 Tibetan females. All of these self-immolations have taken place within China Occupied Tibet except for one which took place in China. These Tibetans were freedom fighters as the self-immolations were not for any personal reasons as Chinese officials allege. However these figures are a tip of the iceberg as with the severe Chinese military clampdown in China Occupied Tibet, self-immolations in the more outlying regions may not find their way into recorded information of the Tibetan Govt in exile.

A Huffington Post article by Peter Dzietr aptly titled ‘Tibet Can No Longer Stand Alone” highlights that “with each passing week the situation in Tibet seems to grow increasingly dire” and that the incessant self-immolations do not find their way in the global media.

Since an increasing number of such Tibetan immolations for the cause of freedom reportedly comprised persons around 18 years of age, it is debatable in terms of perspectives as to how long the Tibetan Freedom Movement could remain peaceful as HH The Dalai Lama fervently desires.

China Occupied Tibet has witnessed and continues to witness the brutalisation of what was once a “Spiritual Kingdom” by the Chinese military and Chinese Armed Police which surpasses the Taliban’s medieval brutalisation of Afghanistan in the 1990s.

China’s ethnic and cultural genocide inflicted on Occupied Tibet in the last sixty years, forced disappearances of Tibetans protesting against Chinese Occupation, forced re-location of Tibetans in ‘Socialist Villages’, and stamping out of all vestiges of Tibetan culture has not diminished the freedom movement in China Occupied Tibet.

More than 2 million Tibetans are widely reported to have been forcibly re-located in the last couple of years to locations and housing sites selected by the Chinese Government. The fig-leaf advanced by the Chinese is that this is desirable for better life of Tibetans. However what is logically obvious is that herding the hapless Tibetans in such so-called Socialist Villages’ is to ensure better surveillance and control of the Tibetan people chafing under the military occupation of Tibet by China.

Stephen Marshall, Member of the US Congressional Executive Committee on China makes a telling point when he states: “The Tibetans are moved to a point that they are expressing in what they feel is the strongest way they possibly can--- I will give up my life in order to make the statement that I do not see a future for myself or my people as part of China”.

China seems to be in a “state-of-denial” that the Tibetan young Freedom Fighters would continue to give up their lives for Tibet’s freedom from Chinese military –occupation by ‘self-immolations only’. A “tipping point” could reach when these Tibetan Freedom Fighters frustrated by Chinese brutal suppression may decide that while I give up my life for Tibet’s freedom I might as well take a few Chinese military lives along impeding that freedom.

The global community and India too seem also to be in a “state-of-denial” that nothing is much amiss in China Occupied Tibet and especially that both the United States and India must defer to China’s forcible military occupation of Tibet by ‘China Appeasement” policies. And as part of such strategic formulations it is better to stay silent on the Tibetan self-immolations.

The United Sates has this month sent the US Ambassador to China, Gary Locke to the China Occupied Tibet capital of Lhasa to raise US concerns about “deteriorating human rights situation” and specifically the self-immolations by Tibetans against Chinese rule.

The US Ambassador about two years ago had also visited Sichuan or the same purpose.

The United States however has a higher call to restrain China from its brutal suppression leading to self-immolations in China Occupied Tibet. As the ardent votary of Universal Human Rights, the United States needs to pressurise China to permit peaceful protest demonstrations in China Occupied Tibet, unrestrained access to international media to this Region and force China to accede to the ‘International Convention Against Torture’

The Tibetan Human Rights Organisation puts it accurately that: “The barbaric and brutal Chinese response to the Tibetan freedom movement demonstrates China’s weaknesses, not its strengths. When the whisper of Human Rights or a photo of the Dalai Lama results in torture, the weakness of the Chinese in Tibet is exposed. The brutality of the Chinese Government has not dimmed the determination of Tibetans to fight for their Human Rights.

Tibet Can No Longer Stand Alone: A Call to Interreligious Solidarity

Peter Dziedzic, Huffington Post, 26 Jun 13

With each passing week, the situation in Tibet seems to grow increasingly dire. While the long list of Tibetan self-immolators screams out for attention, and while many of these self-immolations barely scratch the bottom of media channels outside of the Tibetan exile community, this alone is not what reveals the troubling situation of a seemingly forgotten Tibetan freedom movement. It is the complacency of the international community, forced to whispers by the growing economic and political influence of the Chinese state, and the crushing lack of international moral and visionary authority that is willing to stand firm on issues like Tibetan self-determination, that paint a bleak portrait of affairs.

While the Dalai Lama remains a popular international spiritual leader that is able to maintain advocacy for the Tibet issue globally, the wrinkles on his oft-smiling face do not go ignored. For many in the Chinese establishment, the imminent demise of His Holiness in coming decades gives hope that the Tibetan freedom movement will fizzle out. Despite rumors of China's easing on restrictions of followers of the Dalai Lama in Tibet, the Dalai Lama is still widely regarded as a "separatist force" in China that must be dealt with rather than negotiated with. For Tibetans and international supporters, the loss of an enduring moral authority is a fear that looms deep. Regardless, the question has been considered and discussed by scholars and activists before - will the Tibetan freedom movement end with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama?

While argument and speculation will keep this question suspended, the leadership of the global Tibetan community must take renewed steps if they want to ensure that their struggle against ethnic and cultural cleansing, religious repression, and economic imperialism remains firm and unwavering. What such steps should be taken? The Tibetans must seek new allies in unexpected place - within China itself.

The role of religion in Tibetan culture and politics throughout the long history of the Tibetan people is an intricate and intertwined narrative that would not receive justice in this particular forum. Despite this, it is irrefutable that the religious heritage of Tibetan Buddhism remains an integral aspect of Tibetan identity in Tibet and in exile. As such, this unique contour of Tibetan identity often sits at the forefront of the call for Tibetan freedom. With the religious culture and history of Tibet facing steady destruction and disappearance, and with monastic and lay communities facing continue repression within Tibet, it is this religious identity - and the need to engage and honor this identity authentically and holistically without hindrance or intervention - that remains as an integral prism through which to channel the efforts of the Tibetan freedom movement.

It no longer comes as a surprise that human rights are often abused in China; andreligious freedom, considered by international bodies as a basic human right, is a right that is severely abused within China. The Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, whosemasjids and leaders must be state-approved, the Falun Gong movement, whose members face severe discrimination and persecution, and Protestant and Catholic Christians, who must flee to underground Churches to avoid the ideological stranglehold of the state-sponsored Churches, all face significant religious repression within China.

The Tibetan freedom movement and exile community has often failed to explicitly and deeply connect with these communities in greater China. While I often hear about the abuse and torture of monks and nuns in prison, the surveillance and ideological reformation campaigns in religious communities in greater Tibet, and the slow and steady destruction Buddhist history and artifacts, I have not often heard Tibetans speak about other oppressed communities across China.