How India-China traded barbs over Dalai Lama’s spiritual venture in Arunachal Pradesh

Mohammed Uzair Shaikh
Beijing has warned India of interrupting its "free-ride" of economic growth if it continues to adversely affect the "core interests" of China.

New Delhi, April 5: Dalai Lama, the most revered Buddhist figure across the globe, turned into a point of contention between India and China. The two South Asian neighbours indulged in heated war of words over Dalai Lama’s visit to the Indian northeastern state. As the controversy snowballed into a serious row between the two nations, the Tibetan spiritual leader himself weighed in, urging Beijing not to view his visit to Arunachal with a political lens.

Lamenting grave allegations against New Delhi, China, through its official publications, accused India of assisting Dalai Lama in his alleged propagation of soft separatism in Tibet. Beijing, for years, has considered Arunachal Pradesh as a territory of Tibet. Dalai Lama’s visit to the disputed state evoked a sharp reaction from the nation.

“The Dalai Lama has long been active in anti-China separatist activities under the guise of religion. New Delhi inviting the Dalai Lama to sensitive region gravely damages the China-India relationship,” said an editorial in the state-run Global Times.

Beijing further warned India of interrupting its “free-ride” of economic growth if it continues to adversely affect “core interests” of China.

“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,” Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

New Delhi was quick to retaliate to its eastern neighbour, recommending China to not to intervene in India’s internal affairs. “China should not interfere just as we do not interfere in their internal matters,” said MoS Home, Kiren Rijiju, who hails from West Kameng district of the state.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) raised apprehensions over the manner in which Beijing objected to Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal. “No additional colour should be ascribed to his (Dalai Lama’s) religious and spiritual activities and visits to various states of India,” said the official release, adding that Beijing should not consider India as a supporter of any sort of political movements challenging the Chinese establishment.

Arunachal Pradesh’s chief minister Pema Khandu lashed out at China for considering the state as a disputed territory. “Let me get this straight. China has no business telling us what to do and what not to do because it is not our next-door neighbour,” he said, further adding that Arunachal is an integral part of India.

Chinese Foreign Ministry once again retaliated on Wednesday, objecting to Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang region. India has been accused by China of illegally usurping the territory.

“India in disregard to China’s concerns obstinately arranged the Dalai Lama’s visit to the disputed part of the eastern part of China-India border, causing serious damage to China’s interests and China-India relations,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry, furter adding that New Delhi should “return” Tawang to China.

As the bilateral heat escalated, Dalai Lama himself entered the fray to defend India. “China considers me a demon, but I’m not. I am India’s longest standing guest. India has never used me against China,” the 81-year-old spiritual preacher said. However, Dalai Lama did not refrain to underline his views on China’s alleged usurpation of Tibet. “China must give us meaningful self-rule, autonomy, and must take care of the environment in Tibet. China has the highest population of Tibetan Buddhists,” he added.