“Tibet in Sino-South Asian Relations: Indian and Nepalese treatment of Tibetans at a time of China’s rise”

by Team FNVA

Tuesday, 5th August 2014 (3:00-5:00pm)

Foundation for Non-Violent Alternatives, 143, 4th Floor, Uday Park – 110049, New Delhi

Speaker: Dr. Tsering Topgyal, Lecturer/Assistant Professor in International Relations, Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham.


Abstract: The rise of China and its greater assertiveness is provoking complex responses from neighbouring Asian states. Some states are clearly band-wagoning with China, while others are engaging in various shades of balancing through strengthening formal and informal alignment with America and other Asian states and internal military build-ups, including hedging strategies designed to profit from China’s economic opportunities while preserving the security benefits of America’s ‘pivot’ to Asia and institutional enmeshment. By examining the handling of the Tibet issue by India and Nepal, this paper will show two different responses from South Asia to China’s rise. While Nepal’s policy towards the Tibetans over the decades since 1959 represents a slide from anti-Communist balancing to band-wagoning, India’s handling of the Tibet issue reflects a hedging strategy geared towards preventing the Tibetans in exile from upsetting ties with Beijing in ways contrary to Indian interests, while refusing to curtail the political activities of the Tibetan exiles, in some ways fostering the Tibetan exile polity. These divergent policies from Kathmandu and New Delhi are partly products of the different degrees of pressure that China is putting on them on the Tibet issue on account of their different levels of capabilities, options and resistance towards Chinese.


Tsering Topgyal’s research and teaching interests include Chinese foreign and security policy with special attention to its ethnic conflicts, Asia-Pacific security and politics, Sino-Indian relations, and the Sino-Tibetan conflict. He is currently working on a number of conference and research articles and book chapters on topics such as “Discursive Control as a Foreign Policy Strategy”, “Securitisation and Self-Immolations: shifting the site of inter-subjectivity and sociality” and “Sino-South Asian Relations: India’s and Nepal’s Handling of the Tibet Issue.” He is also commencing work on a research monograph titled “Comparative Securitisation: the construction of Tibet as (In)Security in Sino-Indian Relations.”

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