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They’re dressed to kill

Women assassins with poisoned scarves and toxic hair? The Dalai Lama doesn’t put anything past the Chinese.

india Updated: May 15, 2012 22:07 IST

Not many would know that a sting in the scarf can be as lethal as a sting in the tail. The Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual leader, however, is among the few who has been alerted to such a possibility. In an interview to the Sunday Telegraph, the Dalai Lama has revealed that he was privy to information that Chinese agents were training Tibetans, especially women, to carry out assassination attempts by wearing poisoned scarves or by poisoning their hair. The road to blessings and benediction was to be beset with hired killers, waiting for the Dalai Lama to fall prey to their antics.

China, expectedly, has dismissed the allegations, calling them “groundless”, “not worth refuting” and yet another “insidious trick” played by its long-standing bete-noire. Notwithstanding the seriousness of the charge and counter-charge, it is hardly possible (given the context) to be not reminded of China’s biggest cultural export — the martial arts movies — with their legions of nimble, mind-bogglingly agile seductress-assassins, whose skill in wushu and kung-fu would fell the most determined opponents, if not their dexterity in wielding sharp, lethal weapons. Add poison to this deadly concoction, and it is bound to strike fear no matter how blithe the heart.

But perhaps what is most instructive about the public bickering over assassination plots is that China never seems to grow beyond its image of being a boiling cauldron of conspiracies, perfectly fitting the centuries-old orientalist image of the East being a fertile ground for suspicion and subversion. When China is not crying itself hoarse that it is the victim of the West’s conspiracy to embarrass it over democracy or human rights, it is seen as a country that is more at home in stealth and shadows than any other in the world. And that ends up giving more credence to its image as an exporter of assassins than one comfortable in its modernity.

First Published: May 15, 2012 22:04 IST