Operations Against China

LHASA/WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - Several front organizations of German foreign policy have for years been supporting the Tibetan exile structures in Dharamsala, India. This includes support for organizational measures enabling the "government in exile" in Dharamsala to orchestrate its activities against the People's Republic of China worldwide. Particularly the Free Democratic Party (FDP) affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the Heinrich Boell Foundation (affiliated with the Green Party) are cooperating with the "government in exile" and other exile Tibetan institutions. Front organizations of US foreign policy are working toward the same objectives. Already in the 1950s Washington was intervening in Tibet with millions of dollars, at the time, even supporting Tibetan armed uprisings against the People's Republic of China. German organizations took up the question of Tibet around the end of the 80s, at a time when China was beginning its rise to become a global competitor of the west. The current activities are apt to greatly weaken China. These supplement other German-US measures aimed at thwarting the rise of their East-Asian rival.

Guerrilla Attacks

The first western activities in Tibet began only a few years after the founding of the People's Republic of China. These activities are still today emblazoned in China's political memory and play no insignificant role in China's judgment of the current secessionist tendencies. The US logistical and military support for the armed Tibetan rebellions, beginning in 1957, was aimed at destabilizing the communist government.[1] The intervention outlasted the Dalai Lama's flight into exile in Dharamsala, India, where, after 1959, a Tibetan "government in exile" was called into being. According to official documents from the government in Washington, during the 1960s the CIA was paying up to $1.7 million per year to maintain "operations against China." Up to $180,000 was given directly to the Dalai Lama.[2] Isolated skirmishes continued up into the 1970s. According to the Tibet expert, Prof. Karenina Kollmar-Paulenz, "Guerrilla attacks, originating in Mustang, a Tibetan enclave in Nepal, persisted with US-American support until 1974, when the USA and the Nepalese government stopped their help."[3] Two years earlier, Washington had entered into a new cooperation with Beijing that defined their common efforts against Moscow to be top priority.

Green Alternative

German organizations have become intensively engaged in the Tibet question since the 1980s, when the People's Republic of China began an economic upswing that has now placed it in the top ranks of global commercial statistics. Already at that time political strategists were predicting the possibility of China's rise to becoming a major power and foresaw rivalry between China and western powers. Using contacts to Tibet by "alternative" political circles, who had converted to Buddhism, the Green parliamentary group, through hearings and parliamentary resolutions, placed the questions of autonomy and the demands for secession in that region of China on the political agenda of the Bundestag in 1985. Tsewang Norbu, a former assistant of the Dalai Lama, helped shape policy on Tibet, first as an employee of the Green parliamentarian Petra Kelly and, since 1992, as an employee of the Green Party affiliated Heinrich Boell Foundation. In addition, Norbu founded the German-Tibetan Cultural Society and, over an extended period of time, presided as its vice-chairman. He also works as a "special correspondent" for the US financed "Radio Free Asia" (RFA). RFA is among the news sources of western reporting on the recent uprising in Tibet.

Political Decision-Making Process

Two of the most influential German party-affiliated foundations are particularly engaged in Tibet-related activities. Former President of Germany, Roman Herzog, qualifies their work as "effective instruments of German foreign policy".[4] These foundations are mainly government financed. One, the FDP-affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNSt) has been counseling the Tibetan exile parliament "in all questions of political education" since 1991. A few years ago the foundation claimed that this function will be "very important for the political decision-making process of Tibetan parliamentarians".[5] One of their project partners, the "Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Center" (TPPRC) organizes workshops for the Tibetan exile communities that are mostly found in India or in Nepal.[6] It also teaches Tibetan students "how they can serve their country within and outside the government."[7] 500 students took part in the seminars between 2003 and 2007. The FNSt has also been organizing conferences since the mid-90s that are meant to "coordinate the work of the international Tibet groups and strengthen their links to the central Tibetan 'government in exile'," a complicated enterprise that facilitates the worldwide networking of Tibet militants with Dharamsala. The most recent of these conferences ended in May 2007 with agreement on an "plan of action" which would include the use of the summer Olympic Games to take place in Beijing for the exile Tibetan cause. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[8])


Also active for the "Tibet cause" is the Green Party affiliated Heinrich Boell Foundation, which, like the FNSt works out of its branch office in India. According to its own indications, it "intensified the focus of its years long support for the exile Tibetan community at the turn of the year 2005/2006."[9] They are now concentrating their support on two organizations that have their headquarters in the exile Tibetan "capital" Dharamsala. They are the "Tibetan Center for Conflict Resolution" (TCCR) that mediates conflicts that arise within the community and more particularly the "Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy" (TCHRD). The TCHRD publishes annual reports on Human Rights violations in Tibet and is very significant for the justification of Tibetan political demands. The Heinrich Boell Foundation writes that "taking into consideration the persisting - even though seemingly futile - demands for Tibetan self-determination, there still exists (...) an urgent need for documentation of human rights violations and the policy of assimilation carried out by the Chinese state authorities in Tibet, such as produced by the TCHRD."[10] The TCHRD is also being supported by the "National Endowment for Democracy" (NED), a front organization for US foreign policy that has become notorious for sponsoring the "color revolutions" in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


German foundations' activities around Tibet touch one of the most sensitive spots in Chinese policy. Not only do they represent interference into the domestic affairs of that nation, they also threaten the People's Republic's territorial integrity. "To a certain extent, Tibet is the cornerstone of a fragile multi-ethnic state," writes a policy advisor at the Institute of Asian Studies of the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg. "A horror scenario for Beijing is that beginning with Tibet, a conflagration develops." One finds "designated on a map published in a 1990 autobiography of the Dalai Lama (...) alongside Greater Tibet also 'East Turkestan,' as the area where Moslem Uygurs settled, Inner Mongolia and Manchuria."[11] The secession of these regions would have drastic consequences: "the remaining Chinese settled areas would have shrunk to a third of the People's Republic."

Strategic, Rather Than Legalistic

In fact, the current Tibet campaign, with the participation of German organizations, is but an example of Berlin's and Washington's growing anti-Chinese policy. In Africa, Germany and the USA are now openly agitating against China.[12] Aggressive competition is being practiced also in Latin America [13] as well as in Central Asia [14]. India is seen as a possible counter-balance for the containment of the People's Republic. The west is wooing it accordingly.[15] Here, Tibet could also provide leverage for spurring New Delhi's reticent ruling circles on course. According to the declaration of a former official of the Indian Foreign Ministry, it is "high time for India" to give up its "timid rapprochement" with China and place Beijing "under pressure" also on the Tibet question. The relations with China must be developed "from a strategic, rather than legalistic perspective." The position paper has been put up for debate by the Heinrich Boell Foundation' Indian field office.[16]

Not Tolerated

Not least among the consequences, the Tibet campaign is also stimulating an anti-Chinese atmosphere in Germany leaving a dwindling amount of room for criticism. Opinions that are at variance with the anti-Beijing mainstream are, in the meantime, being punished. In Cologne a sinologist's lecture on the theme of Tibet had to be cancelled at the last minute. The organizers had criticized the one-sided western media reporting and sought to initiate a differentiated debate of the conflict.[17] This intention led to the cancellation on short notice of the rental contract for the location in the Cologne Community Center. Those responsible for the community center made it known that no "anti-Tibetan" events would be tolerated.

Please read also Strategies of Attrition (I), Strategies of Attrition (II), Strategies of Attrition (III), Strategies of Attrition (IV), The Olympic Lever and The Olympic Torch Relay Campaign.

[1] Karenina Kollmar Paulenz: Kleine Geschichte Tibets, München 2006
[2] CIA funded covert Tibet exile campaign in 1960s; The Age (Australia) 16.09.1998
[3] Karenina Kollmar Paulenz: Kleine Geschichte Tibets, München 2006
[4] see also "The Most Effective Instruments of German Foreign Policy"
[5] Buchbesprechung: "Tibet im Exil"; www.fnst-freiheit.org
[6] Intensive workshop for Tibetan Local Assembly Members; www.southasia.fnst-freiheit.org
[7] "The objective is to make the student understand oneself and the exile government, enabling them to know exactly how to serve their country by working within the government or outside it." Youth Leadership Training with a Difference; www.southasia.fnst-freiheit.org
[8] see also The Olympic Torch Relay Campaign
[9], [10] Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung: Politischer Jahresbericht Länderbüro Indien, 2005/2006
[11] "Der Dissens unter den Exiltibetern wächst". Interview mit China-Experten: Unruhen unterminieren pazifistisches Credo des Dalai Lama - Beijing fürchtet Vision eines Großtibet; GIGA News 20.03.2008
[12] see also Mr. Horst Koehler, Managing Director, Auf gleicher Augenhöhe, Hegemonic Rivalry and Näher an Afrika
[13] see also New strategic orientation, Schlüsselpositionen and To the Mines
[14] see also Spät, aber nachhaltig and Günstige Lage
[15] see also Military Partner, Friedensmächte and Der dritte Pfeiler
[16] "It is time for India to get out of its defensive mindset and timid approach in dealing with China. There are vital national security interests at stake. Relations with China must be handled from a strategic, not a legalistic, perspective. The approach India follows should be multi-dimensional. India does want better relations with China, but it must also evolve a calculated and calibrated policy to put China under some pressure to safeguard its interests and concerns." Rajiv Sikri: India’s Tibet Policy: Need for a Change; www.boell-india.org
[17] Für Informationen zu Tibet in der Alten Feuerwache kein Platz? www.salz-köln.de