(TibetanReview.net, Aug18’22) – In what appears to be a move seen as being meant to drive home a point towards Beijing, India’s defence ministry released photos last week, confirming that Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, had been flown in a military helicopter to a remote Himalayan village in the disputed border region of eastern Ladakh, said a scmp.com opinion piece Aug 16.
The Dalai Lama has been sojourning in Ladakh since Jul 15, taking part in religious and interfaith events and giving religious teachings. China condemns him as a separatist, although he has only been seeking genuine autonomy for his occupied homeland for decades as provided for in the constitution of the People’s Republic of China.
The opinion piece noted that Beijing was already irked by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s phone call to the 1989 Nobel Peace laureate last month for his 88th birthday. In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian had said India should fully understand the “anti-China and separatist nature” of the Dalai Lama and “stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs”.
Showing photos of him being flown in a military helicopter to an area disputed by China would therefore be seen as a befitting rebuff to the Chinese.
The opinion piece noted that most of the long, unmarked border between China (ie, Chinese occupied Tibet) and India is located in Tibet, and the region has long been a thorny bilateral issue – even after India officially recognised Tibet as part of China most recently in 2003.
Tit noted that Beijing has often accused the Modi government of playing the Tibet card to woo its nationalist supporters in India, where the Dalai Lama and a Tibetan diaspora have been living in exile. It reacted with fury in 2017 when the Dalai Lama visited Arunachal Pradesh, parts of which China claims as southern Tibet, with Beijing saying New Delhi had done “serious damage” to bilateral ties.
As the Tibet issue again causes friction, it does not augur well for a complicated relationship that has been deeply strained since a deadly border clash in eastern Ladakh two years ago, the opinion piece said.