Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chinese "Invasion" in Dhasa

By Jaideep Sarin, Indo-Asian News Service
Dharamsala, March 22 (IANS) -- Till a few years ago 'MIC' was a banned word at Mcleodganj, the hilltop settlement of the Dalai Lama. But that boycott of 'Made in China' products has given way to 21st-century market demands.

Like in other parts of India, 'Made in China' goods have invaded Mcleodganj, where most shops are owned by Tibetan refugees.

Toys, games, stationery items, cheap quality household products and many other things made in the dragon land are now available. The buyers are mainly the local Tibetan population and visitors, foreigners included.

"Yes we do sell China-made products. I don't think there is a ban on doing so. Tibetans do hate anything that is Chinese. We get our products through agents in Delhi," said a shop-owner who did not want to be identified.

Friends of Tibet general secretary Tenzin Tsundue said the Tibetan population here had become resigned to the fact that 'Made in China' products could be sold by them.

"We ran the boycott MIC products campaign till 2003. But after the start of the dialogue between the (Tibetan) government-in-exile and China, the Dalai Lama asked Tibetans not to do anything anti-China that would jeopardise the talks," Tsundue told IANS.

"This has given some Tibetans a useful excuse to sell MIC goods and in a way support the Chinese economy. This is sad," he added.

Till a few years ago, selling Chinese products in Mcleodganj, which is also known as 'Little Lhasa', was taboo -- because of the resentment that Tibetans had for anything Chinese.

Tibetan exiles claim that the Chinese invaded their homeland nearly five decades ago, forcing their spiritual leader Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans to flee to India in 1959. Nearly 130,000 Tibetans now live in India and elsewhere in exile.

Many shops had stickers - some still have them - proudly proclaiming that no 'Made in China' goods were sold. A few shops in the main market of this small hill town even sold stickers and other products declaring 'No to Made in China'.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Tibetans here and in settlements across India, Europe, the US and Canada burnt "Made in China" goods.

In May 1993, Tibetan religious leader and Nobel laureate Dalai Lama said: "I back the call for the boycott of goods made in China."

Other Tibetan leaders have till recently given statements against MIC goods saying these products came from an oppressive regime.

Friends of Tibet - a website that supports the cause for Tibetan independence - explains why 'Made in China' goods should be boycotted: "'Remember that every time you buy a product 'Made In China,' you are funding and empowering a brutal regime. We request you to boycott Chinese goods to save and protect the Indian industry and also to help end injustice and oppression in Tibet."

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service