China slams India over invite to the Dalai Lama

President Pranab Mukherjee with Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi at the Laureates and Leaders Summit for Children-2016 in New Delhi.

President Pranab Mukherjee with Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi at the Laureates and Leaders Summit for Children-2016 in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

China has slammed India for inviting the Dalai Lama for a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and urged New Delhi to respect China’s “core interest” in order to avoid “any disturbance” in ties between the two nations.

In a strongly worded response to a question, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “Recently in disregard of China’s solemn representation and strong opposition, the Indian side insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to the Indian presidential palace, [and] participation in the event with the Indian President and meeting with President [Pranab] Mukherjee.”

The spokesman asserted that Beijing was “strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to that”. The Dalai Lama was present in the opening session of the “Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit”, organised by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation on December 10.

Mr. Geng said the “Dalai Lama is in political exile and has been engaged in anti-China separatist activities with the attempt of separating Tibet away from China under the cloak of religion”. He added that China was firmly opposed “to any form of contact between officials of the other countries with him”.

“We urge the Indian side to see through the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai Lama clique, fully respect China’s core interest and major concerns, take effective means to remove the negative impact caused by the incident so as to avoid any disturbance to China-India relationship,” he said.

India’s stand

The Government of India sought to play down the comments, saying the event the Dalai Lama had attended was not a “political” one. “His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a respected and revered spiritual leader. It was a non-political event organised by Nobel laureates dedicated to the welfare of children,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Friday. India has always resisted Chinese criticism of the Dalai Lama’s movements, and maintains that he does not undertake any political activity in India.

This is the fifth time that China has expressed its annoyance in the past few months. Earlier, Chinese government spokespersons objected to the Dalai Lama’s visits to Arunachal Pradesh, Mongolia and the U.S., as well as the government’s permission to the Karmapa Lama to travel to Arunachal as well.

China’s strong objections towards the perceived promotion of Tibetan separatism coincide with its rejection of remarks by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump questioning Washington’s unqualified endorsement of Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan.

Global Times, the daily affiliated with the Communist Party of China, took exception to the statement by Mongolian Ambassador to India Gonchig Ganhold seeking New Delhi’s financial support to override Ulan Bator’s economic difficulties. Mongolia’s crisis followed its reception of the Dalai Lama last month, apparently triggering a slew of economic measures by Beijing against Ulan Bator.

(With Suhasini Haider in New Delhi)

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2020 9:28:01 AM |

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