China says Dalai Lama visit has fuelled tensions

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing, April 6 (IANS) China on Thursday said it has lodged protest with India over the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, and reiterated that by inviting the Tibetan spiritual leader to the "disputed area", New Delhi has "harmed" bilateral ties and fuelled tensions.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, in her daily briefing, said China's objections to the visit had been raised with "competent officials" in the Indian government. On Wednesday, Indian Ambassador Vijay Gokhale was summoned to lodge a protest.

"By inviting and approving (the) Dalai Lama to (visit) disputed areas between China and India, India has damaged our interests and the India-China relationship and it has fuelled tensions," she said.

Hua's comments come as the Dalai Lama continued meeting people and attending events in Arunachal Pradesh as part of his visit.

She also said that Beijing opposes the Dalai Lama's visit "to relevant areas and opposes attempts by relevant countries" to arrange a platform for him to conduct "anti-China activities".

The spokesperson dismissed Chinese media reports linking the Dalai Lama's visit to India's unhappiness over Beijing continuing to hamper New Delhi's membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and also blocking a UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohamed terrorist Masood Azhar. "China will not make any assumptions on India's intentions," she said.

Her comments come as the Chinese media on Thursday kept up its tirade against India over the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing considers as disputed and part of Southern Tibet.

Editorials in two English-language newspapers warned India "not to play dirty" with China over Arunachal and not to use the Tibetan spiritual icon as a diplomatic leverage vis-a-vis Beijing.

The Global Times said that at a time when the Dalai Lama was getting a cold shoulder in many countries, India was bucking the trend and treating him as a favourite.

"New Delhi probably overestimates its leverage in (its) ties with China.

"The two countries in recent years have continuously strived to improve their relationship and the peace on the border area has been maintained," it pointed out.

"India has benefited from the good momentum of bilateral relationship as much as China. If New Delhi ruins the Sino-India ties and the two countries turn into open rivals, can India afford the consequence?"

The Global Times is known to reflect the thinking of the Chinese Communist Party leadership and often takes a hard line on foreign policy issues.

It suggested that China can create trouble for India in Jammu and Kashmir, where a raging separatist campaign has left tens of thousands dead.

"With a GDP several times higher than that of India, military capabilities that can reach the Indian Ocean and having good relations with India's peripheral nations, coupled with the fact that India's turbulent northern state borders China, if China engages in a geopolitical game with India, will Beijing lose to New Delhi?"

The editorial admitted that while the Dalai Lama - who has lived in India since 1959 - had been to Arunachal Pradesh earlier too, this trip was different as he was received and accompanied by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju.

The China Daily warned that if India "chooses to play dirty", then Beijing "should not hesitate to answer blows with blows".

It described Arunachal Pradesh, which borders China, as "a historical Chinese territory India has illicitly occupied and refers to as 'Arunachal Pradesh'."

It said that like Taiwan, "Tibet is a part of Chinese territory no matter whether New Delhi agrees or not".

"Neither the 'McMahon Line', by which New Delhi justifies its actual control of Southern Tibet, nor the present-day 'Arunachal Pradesh' has Beijing's endorsement.

"In other words, Indian occupation of the area is legally untenable. Using it as leverage, therefore, is not just unethical. It is outright illicit," said the editorial.

--IANS

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