The Great Tibet Problem


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Blessed are the peacemakers marching for peace in Occupied Tibet.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” I invoke the blessings of God on Kunga Norbu and Adam Schaeuble who are walking to bring peace in Occupied Tibet by promoting the public awareness of the Great Tibet Problem.

Rudranarasimham Rebbapragada


BEAM: Friends walk to bring awareness to Tibet. Opinion.

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Blessed are the peacemakers marching for peace in Occupied Tibet.

Kunga Norbu left, and Adam Schaeuble pose for a picture on the Big Four Bridge during their multi-state walking campaign to raise awareness about Tibet. Norbu is the nephew of the Dalai Lama, who gave his blessing for the trek, and suggested that the duo “create a wave of positivity.”

As they walked across Big Four Bridge that October Sunday, Kunga Norbu and Adam Schaeuble weren’t protesting anything.

The casual observer, though, might have thought differently.

A multicolored flag rested against Kunga’s shoulder as he strolled down the ramp into Jeffersonville. The emblem on it symbolized the country of his father’s birth, a nation no longer able to control the teachings of its past let alone its own future. Emblazoned on his and Adam’s yellow shirts were the words “Team Tibet” in crimson ink.

“If you walk anywhere and you’ve got a guy with a giant flag, people are probably like eyeballing you asking what kind of a thing is this? That’s the society that we live in,” said Adam. “Is this a good march or a bad march? Is this positive or is it negative? People almost always assume that it’s negative. But when we get to tell people about it, they realize it’s a cool, positive story.”

Louisville was stop number four on the duo’s eight-day walking tour to bring awareness about issues facing Tibet while also supporting and preserving Tibetan culture. On Oct. 4, they finished their journey in Columbus, Ohio with more than 200 miles walked.

“There are six million Tibetans in Tibet now,” Kunga said when discussing the treatment of Tibetan citizens by the Chinese government, the country that invaded Tibet in the 1950s. “We have to do something. We have to do anything. Even walking. Even one-mile.”

Kunga had completed this mileage before. In March of 2013, the Tibetan-American undertook a 230-mile trek from Washington, D.C., to New York City in memory of his brother Jigme. In 2011, Jigme lost his life when a sports utility vehicle struck him on a Florida road during a similar walk for Tibetan independence. He was 45.

But circumstances have since changed for the Bloomington resident. In January of 2015, a stroke wreaked havoc on Kunga’s body. After regaining most of his physical abilities through rehab, speech difficulties are the only remnants of the illness.

“When he starts talking about Tibet, he gets clearer,” Adam said. “Like his speech is more succinct. It’s like he’s talking from his heart. It’s really cool.”

Despite his health setbacks, the 55-year-old still wanted to honor his Tibetan heritage. His father, Thubten Norbu, established the Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington and was a professor at Indiana University. Thubten, too, was a Buddhist lama, not to mention the older brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

That’s right. Kunga is the Dalai Lama’s nephew.

Adam, on the other hand, has no Tibetan lineage. His friendship with Kunga brought him to this mission. Strangely enough, during high school, the now 38-year-old did a report on Tibet. Part of that assignment consisted of reading a book by — you guessed it — Professor Norbu, Kunga’s father.

Nine years ago, Kunga walked into the gym Adam owns. They quickly became pals. When Kunga’s brother died, Adam organized an Mt. Everest Challenge for his “gym family.” Participants climbed on an apparatus called Jacob’s Ladder in order to finish the steps Jigme wasn’t able to complete.

Knowing about his friend’s wish to do another walk that would bring awareness to Tibetan issues, Adam suggested they do a roughly week-long trek that would finish in Columbus, Ohio. Instead of traversing the whole way by foot on dangerous interstates, the pair would find trails in different Midwest cities. Kunga, Adam and anyone else who might want to come along would walk along these much safer paths to achieve their 200-mile goal.

“I’m like the big, noisy white Sherpa,” Adam said, referencing the Himalayan mountaineers who, at times, help climbers reach Mt. Everest.

Kunga liked the plan. In a March 2018 audience with the Dalai Lama, he asked for his uncle’s blessing. The Dalai Lama freely gave it and suggested to them an optimistic objective: Create a wave of positivity.

“That was his challenge for us, two people from two different cultures that are doing this because they are friends and support each other,” Adam said.

And, by just walking 200-miles with a Tibetan flag and their friendship, Kunga and Adam accomplished just this.

“The culture can’t be stamped out if people are still talking about what’s going on,” Adam said. “That’s the way we keep that culture alive. Just keep talking about it and share and share.”

— Amanda Hillard Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at

Blessed are the peacemakers marching for peace in Occupied Tibet.



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Historically Tibet came under military conquests by Mongol China and Manchu China and yet retained its independent way of living without any problem. The Evil Red Empire formulated by Red China’s Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong unleashed a different kind of beast to rule over the lives of Tibetan people. During 1950s, both India and Tibet believed that the beast called ‘The Red Dragon’ can be appeased and treated her with patience, and tolerance seeking a peaceful resolution to the problem caused by Red China’s military invasion of Tibet in 1950. In 1959, Tibetans made an unsuccessful attempt to tame ‘The Red Dragon’ and their failure could be attributed to cunningness, craftiness of Red China which acts like a Jackal concealing her true intentions. Red China has become more confident over the years and thinks that there is no one besides her. Unlike in past, Tibet’s conquest by Red China has transformed Tibet into a colony from which China extracts all natural resources while maintaing a tight grip over the lives of people using her brute force. Red China developed road, rail, and air connections with Tibet to sustain its colonization denying Tibetans their natural rights to Freedom. I am expecting that Red China’s military grip over Tibet will slacken because of an unexpected strike that would bring The Red Dragon to her knees.

Rudranarasimham Rebbapragada
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
The Spirits of Special Frontier Force

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  1. China is on an Airports and Infrastructure spree in Tibet


    AUGUST 4, 2015


    Isn’t it strange that some of the most significant news are often missed in the cacophony of the ‘Breaking News’ channels?

    On the same day, two game-changing pieces of information appeared in the Chinese media. Yet, they just looked innocuous.

    The first one was about the 6th Tibet Work Forum. Was it held in Beijing or in the sea-resort of Beidaihe, where the top leaders escaped the unpleasant Beijing weather? I shall come back to it later.

    The second information was the PLA/Civil integration for the management of the Lhasa airport; it has serious strategic implications for India, which is struggling to build some infrastructure in Arunachal and Ladakh.

    Xinhua officially announced the vital airport integration to “strengthen aviation safety and combat support capabilities.”

    A joint statement from the People Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and General Administration of Civil Aviation (CAAC) said that the integration will include joint maintenance of airport support facilities, joint flight safety support and joint airport management.

    Interestingly, the Lhasa Gongkar Airport in Tibet will be the first of the two pilot airports to implement the PLA/civil ‘integration’ (with the Sunan Shuofang Airport in Wuxi in Jiangsu province). The job should be completed during the second half of 2015.

    The PLAAF/CAAC circular further affirms that “all the civil-military airports will conduct strengthened integration next year.”

    To flood the Tibetan plateau with millions of Chinese tourists, a good infrastructure is required. Airports and the railway line are the backbones of a booming tourism in Tibet. The same infrastructure could be crucial in case of conflict with India; integration of the airport management was therefore required.

    Once the Lhasa Gonggar Airport, located about 62 kilometres from the Tibetan capital has its joint PLA/Civil management, the other airports on the plateau will follow.

    A couple of years ago, Xinhua had announced that the airport in Chamdo (known as the Bangda Airport) was reopened after major repairs. Xinhua reported then: “The Bangda Airport, the world’s highest-altitude civilian airport currently in use, is expected to resume operations.” It had temporarily been closed to repair a 19-year-old runway.

    Also strategically important is the Nyingtri Mainling Airport, situated just north of the McMahon Line, the border with India; it serves Bayi, the main PLA garrison in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

    Ngari Gunsa Airport already used by the PLA posted opposite the Indian troops in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, started its operations in 2010, becoming the fourth civil airport in Tibet after Lhasa, Nyingchi and Chamdo airports.

    Shigatse, the second city in Tibet is served by the railway line since August last year but also has the Shigatse Peace Airport, called Shigatse Air Base.

    It was solely for military use until 2010, when a 100 million US $ expansion was completed.

    The 4,411-metre-high Kardze Daocheng Yading airport, built in Kardze in Sichuan province was put into operation in 2014 (a year earlier than planned!). The Sichuan authorities planned to bring one million tourists to the area by 2015. But as important as tourism, the airport facilitates the transportation of fresh troops from the Military Area Command in Chengdu to Kardze prefecture. Kardze has been one of the most restive areas on the Tibetan plateau. With one stone, two birds are killed: the Tibetan protesters can be ‘pacified’ in no time and the deluge of Chinese tourists brings hefty revenues.

    Another airport has come up in the Nagchu Prefecture of Tibet. Completed in 2014, the Nagchu Airport is now the highest airport in the world at 4,436 m.

    The Modi Sarkar is aware of all this, but while China speedily builds Tibet’s infrastructure (using the perfect excuse of having to cater for millions of Han tourists), India develops its border areas at snail’s pace, struggling to create a semblance of infrastructure. It is true that the terrain is far more difficult in the Indian side, but so are the bureaucratic hurdles.

    In Arunachal for example, the process indeed needs perseverance and an unshakable will to change the tide. Despite the declared resolve from the present Government, it may take years for proper roads to reach the remotest districts of Arunachal Pradesh…and stop the Chinese ‘visits’.

    It is not an easy challenge, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has realised that the North-East cannot be developed from Delhi. In his latest monthly radio programme Maan ki Baat, he announced that he was “deputing Central Government officials to find solutions to problems being faced by the region”.

    One of the decisions taken by the Union Government has been to modify the guidelines of the Border Area Development Programme drafted some 10 years ago. According to the new notification,

    “The main objective of the BADP is to meet the special developmental needs and well being of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border and to saturate the border areas with the entire essential infrastructure …(with a) participatory approach.”

    I mentioned another information released by Xinhua the same day about the 6th Tibet Work Forum, which decides the fate of Tibet (as well as Tibet’s southern neighbours) for the next 5/10 years

    The opening of the Forum just took place in Beidaihe, the sea-resort where the Communist leadership retires during the hot summer.

    Xinhua reported that top Chinese leaders have met “to discuss economic and social development in Tibet, and how to ensure the autonomous region achieves prolonged stability.”

    The statement of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) further noted: “Safeguarding national unity and strengthening ethnic unity should be highlighted in work involving Tibet.” The so-called stability is undoubtedly foremost in the mind of the leadership. The statement added:

    “Efforts should be made to unswervingly carry out the anti-separatism battle, promote the region’s economic and social development, safeguard and improve people’s welfare, and enhance exchanges and integration of different ethnic groups.”

    The Politburo (or probably an extended Politburo) is said to have agreed that “strengthening Tibetan infrastructure, helping it foster competitive industries while ensuring environmental protection are the means to achieve marked improvement in living conditions and more social cohesion,” were the priorities for the restive region.

    The PLA/Civil integration of the airports in Tibet will certainly help Beijing to ‘strengthen the infrastructure’ and consolidate its presence on the Plateau.

    To give an example of the seriousness of the situation for India, it is enough to quote the case of Metok, the last Tibetan village before the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra enters Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

    China Tibet Online explains:

    “The remoteness of the location, together with other reasons such as climate and geological condition, and economic development, led to the isolation of the region. Having no way linking it to the outside world until the end of 2013, Metok is the last county in China to have its road.”

    Historically, this was a mythic place; only a very few intrepid pilgrims had visited the ‘hidden valley’. Now, Zhang Yuhui, an executive deputy director of Metok County affirmed that the income from tourism in Metok (which has 11,000 inhabitants only) has reached 1.6 billion US $, just in the matter of 2 years.

    China Tibet Online says:

    “Going to Metok had once been only the privilege of the ‘brave’ before the traffic was improved. After the opening of the road to Metok, self-driving travel became popular apart from hiking. Visitors from various places were attracted to this beautiful place.”

    Can you believe that this tiny (though strategic valley) hosted 70,000 visitors in 2013, the first year the road was opened. It grew to 90,000 in 2014 and the Chinese government expects 130,000 visitors in 2015.

    And this just a few kilometers north of the Indian border!

    No other comment is required.

    The Narendra Modi Sarkar has indeed to hurry up and undertake the development of the border on a war footing.