(TibetanReview.net, Mar04, 2017) – As the Dalai Lama’s scheduled Apr 4-13 visit to the border state of Arunachal Pradesh draws near, China has reiterated its warning to India of serious damage to bilateral relations. China calls the state a disputed territory, claiming it as part of southern Tibet on the basis of its claim over the occupied Himalayan territory whose temporal spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was until 2011.
India has made it clear that the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit will be religious; that as a secular democracy it would not stop him from travelling to any part of the country, reported Reuters and other news agencies Mar 3.
“He is going there as a religious leader, there is no reason to stop him. His devotees are demanding he should come, what harm can he do? He is a lama,” Reuters quoted Kiren Rijiju, India’s junior minister for home affairs and who belongs to the state, as saying.
But the report also quoted him as saying, “It’s a behavioural change you are seeing. India is more assertive,” referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s raising of its public engagement with the Tibetan leader. Earlier New Delhi had been reluctant to anger Beijing by sharing a public platform with him.
Rijiju is accompanying the Dalai Lama during the visit and the report described him as Prime Minister Modi’s point man on Tibetan issues.
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In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang has said his country was “gravely concerned” about the reports of the Dalai Lama’s scheduled visit, reiterating Beijing’s position on the “disputed border” and its contention that the Tibetan leader is considered a separatist by China. “China is strongly opposed to the Dalai visiting disputed areas,” he has added.
He has also said, “China’s position on eastern section of China-India border dispute is consistent and clear. The Dalai-clique has long been engaging in anti-China separatist activities and its record on the border question is not that good.”
Geng has said India was aware of the sensitivity of the matter to his country. “Under such a background if India invites Dalai to visit the mentioned territory it will cause serious damage to peace and stability of the border region and China-India relations.”
He has also said China had conveyed its displeasure and concerns to India through formal channels. “We have expressed concerns to the Indian side, urged India to stick to its political commitments and abide by important consensus the two sides have reached on the boundary question, refrain from actions that might complicate the issue, not provide a platform to the Dalai-clique and protect the sound and stable development of China-India relations.”
Geng was also quoted as saying it was in “the fundamental interest of the two countries” to reach an “early solution” to the border issue, adding it was also an important consensus reached by the two sides.
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The Dalai Lama and the exile Tibetan administration only seek genuine autonomy for Tibet as guaranteed, according to them, by China’s constitution. But China refuses to discuss any settlement of the issue, insisting that the exiled Tibetan leadership should simply give up everything and accept the reality of China’s ongoing assimilation of their homeland.