Who Cares for Tibet?
As always, it come down to economics in the end. But at the end of the day, 'One China' has to stop somewhere. Beijing cannot keep on claiming all areas on the edges of its current borders to be Chinese territory, for if it wins concessions on these, then it will only stake more claims elsewhere.
Although many in Tawang have heard of breathtaking advances taking place in Tibet, symbolised by the world's highest railway connecting the Himalayan plateau with the rest of China, there are few takers for that kind of pell-mell rush to modernity.
"I do not understand this race to be modern. We have to be careful to strike a balance between economic growth and cultural erosion. We have to limit outside influences and control to some extent," said Tsona Gontse Rinpoche, a high-ranking lama who is also an elected local politician. "Our society can easily fall apart otherwise. In Tibet these things are happening. Buddhism is dying there."
Despite these concerns India is pressing ahead with its own plans to build dams in Arunachal Pradesh to generate hydropower for energy-starved India and blast tunnels through the Himalayas for a motorway network. This would be a step change for Arunachal Pradesh, which does not even have an airport.
Experts say that China covets the Tawang region not just for the picturesque monastery but for economic and strategic reasons. Many point out that China has plans to divert the Brahmaputra river, which begins in Tibet but passes through Arunachal Pradesh, to feed its arid northern and western regions and generate power.