Don't meddle in our internal policies, India tells China

Miranda GreerApr 06, 2017

The Dalai Lama on Wednesday accused Chinese politicians of narrow-mindedness for the controversy between India and China over his visit to a northeastern Indian state disputed by New Delhi and Beijing.

The Tibetan spiritual leader was greeted by cheering supporters as he arrived in the partly ethnically Tibetan Himalayan state that China claims as its own territory.

China also said that Dalai Lama's visit has caused serious damage to bilateral ties between the two countries. It said: "China has never thought of making trouble for India, and is handling these issues in accordance with global practices and United Nations regulations".

Hua also rejected Minister of State (Home) Kiren Rijiju's remarks that the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh was "purely religious" and not political.

India seems to hold a different view.

He warned that Beijing could take steps against any government that invites the Dalai Lama. In fact, China has objected to even the Indian President, Prime Minister or Defence Minister's visit to the State, which Beijing claims as part of Tibet. While the U.S. under Barack Obama and his successor Donald Trump have not entertained Beijing much, the issues related to the dispute in the South China Sea and over North Korea's nuclear belligerence have also put it in a spot internationally.

The security sources said that Ulfa chairman Abhizeet Asom's statement was framed and dictated by China.

But Indian and Chinese officials told The Telegraph that they did expect the Dalai Lama's visit - his seventh to the state - to escalate bilateral tensions at a time the countries are already locked in serial spats ranging from New Delhi's nuclear ambitions to terrorism. While India tries to use Buddhist soft power as a diplomatic tool, one need only look at how quickly the Mongolians regretted their welcome of the Dalai Lama in November 2016.

When asked for its reaction, the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi referred to its statement a day earlier.

"We demand the Indian side immediately stop wrong actions, not hype up sensitive issues and take concrete steps to safeguard growth of India-China relations", said Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs.

Later, the Chinese side lodged a protest with Indian Ambassador Vijay Gokhale in Beijing over the Dalai Lama's visit.

India and Tibet share close cultural and religious ties and the Dalai Lama has regularly affirmed India's sovereignty over the entirety of Arunachal Pradesh, including areas the Chinese government labels "south Tibet". "Using such pressure tactics, which go against China's core interests, is in the opposite direction", Wang said.

"China's stand on the eastern part of the borders is consistent and clear".

For one, China knows very well that its relation with India in the second decade of the 21 century is no more dominated by symbolic issues like Tibet.

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