By Rama Lakshmi
Wednesday, April 2, 2008; Page A09
NEW DELHI, April 1 — Angry Tibetans in India chanted all kinds of anti-China slogans last month when they gathered to protest the crackdown in their homeland. But one chant, in particular, seemed to be an ominous warning to the government in New Delhi: “China-India brotherhood is a Chinese deception!” the Tibetans shouted.
The chant was an expression of anger over India’s burgeoning diplomatic and economic ties with China. But it also reflected the contradictions in the Indian government’s policy as it tries to ensure free speech for its sizable ethnic Tibetan population while also maintaining a fragile partnership with its powerful neighbor.
India enjoys a trading relationship with China expected to be worth $40 billion this year. At the same time, it hosts the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, his exile government and his followers. Authorities in Beijing have accused the Dalai Lama of fomenting the recent Tibet protests.
“It is a difficult position for India,” said Kanwal Sibal, a former Indian foreign secretary. “We gave asylum to the Dalai Lama and his followers on the condition that they would not conduct political activities on Indian soil. But the Tibetan government-in-exile is run from here.
“We have to weigh the costs of extending support to the Tibetans in a demonstrative way in the current situation against damaging our ties with China,” he said.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, India’s current foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said that the Dalai Lama was a “respected guest” and that India would continue to offer him hospitality. But the Dalai Lama should not do anything that could have a “negative impact on Indo-Sino relations,” Mukherjee warned.
India is home to about….