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India pushes back against China’s attack on PM Modi’s Dalai Lama birthday greeting

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(TibetanReview.net, Jul08’22) – While not addressing China’s claim calling the Dalai Lama an “anti-China separatist”, India on Jul 7 defended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talk with and greetings to the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet on the occasion of his 87th birthday the day before, adding he did the same last year as well. It called the Dalai Lama a guest and that the birthday greetings should be seen from the overall context.

“The prime minister did speak to the Dalai Lama last year also. It has been a consistent policy of the government to treat the Dalai Lama as an honoured guest in India,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi has said.

“His Holiness is accorded all due courtesies and freedom to conduct his religious and spiritual activities in India… The birthday greetings by the prime minister to his Holiness on his 87th birthday should be seen in this overall context.”

Bagchi has added that the Tibetan spiritual leader’s birthday was celebrated in India and abroad by his followers.

* * *

Earlier, asked about Modi’s greetings, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has told mediapersons that “the Indian side should fully recognise the anti-China separatist nature of the 14th Dalai Lama.”

Zhao has demanded that India abide by its “commitment to China, speak and act prudently and stop using Tibet related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

Zhao has also slammed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for greeting the Dalai Lama. “Tibet affairs are China’s internal affairs, which brooks no foreign interference. China is firmly against any engagement by any country with the 14th Dalai Lama.”

Further, he has called the Dalai Lama a political exile “disguised as a religious figure who has long been engaged in anti-China separatist activities”.

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Greetings for the Dalai Lama on his 87th birthday came not only from a number of central and state government leaders in India, but also from a number of other countries, including from leaders from Switzerland and Germany, according to the Oslo-based Voice of Tibet radio broadcast service Jul 7. 

Senator Jordon Steele-John, Australian Greens spokesperson for foreign affairs, and another Australian Senator were also among those who greeted the Dalai Lama, said the Central Tibetan Administration on its Tibet.net website Jul 7.

The website also said Tibet groups in the parliaments of France, Switzerland, and Germany were among such groups that held receptions or conveyed greetings on the occasion.

The Dalai Lama has for decades been seeking genuine autonomy, not independence, for his occupied homeland under China’s existing constitution. But Beijing refuses to compromise while pushing its coercive agenda of Sinicizing the Tibetan people and their homeland to realise the objective behind its claim that there is no Tibet issue to be discussed.

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