China and India in a Spat Over, Yes, the Dalai Lama
The Tibetan monk’s visit to India’s northeast bothers Beijing.
China accused India on Wednesday of threatening bilateral relations between the two countries by permitting the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh.
Arunachal Pradesh is one of eight states in India’s north eastern region — this is according to both India and the United Nations. However, according to China, it is a “disputed border area between China and India.” China lays claim to roughly 35,000 square miles of Arunachal Pradesh.
China has long blamed the Dalai Lama for fomenting discord to bring about Tibetan independence. Allowing the 81-year-old monk to got to Arunachai would “stir up troubles over the border issue and go against the sound development of bilateral ties,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, according to the Associated Press report. Hua said Beijing would be raising the matter with New Delhi
India seems to hold a different view. “Arunachal Pradesh is an inseparable part of India and China should not object to the Dalai Lama’s visit and interfere in India’s internal affairs,” Indian Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Tuesday of the Dalai Lama’s seventh visit to Arunachal Pradesh, per the AP report,
The Chinese-Indian relationship is already tense. China gives India cause for concern by way of cyber threats, its naval presence in the Indian Ocean, a proposed route for the Chinese-Pakistani economic corridor that cuts through a part of Kashmir to which India lays claim, and, of course, the Arunachal Pradesh border, Rick Rossow, senior adviser and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Foreign Policy. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken an increasingly aggressive line toward China since coming into office in 2014, the same year he invited the Tibetan prime minister in exile to his swearing in ceremony.
But Modi isn’t the only one making provocations. The chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh decided to take a still less Chinese-friendly line over the Dalai Lama’s visit. Pema Khandu, who escorted the Dalai Lama during his travels, says the monk’s visit was no concern of China’s, because India does not share a border with China, but with Tibet.
“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,” Khandu said.
That should go over well in Beijing.
Photo credit: BIJU BORO/AFP/Getty Images