Dalai Lama in Arunachal: India asks China to refrain from artificial controversy
With an upset China watching closely, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has begun a week-long visit to India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. The visit has raised the hackles in Beijing and looks set to fuel fresh tensions in Sino-Indian ties. Brushing aside Beijing’s strong objections, India has asked China to refrain from stoking “an artificial controversy” around the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, a region in the eastern Himalayas China claims as its own and regularly denounces foreign leaders’ visits to the place as attempts to bolster India’s territorial claims. India has consistently maintained that Arunachal Pradesh is its integral part and that China should respect that.
Four days ago, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had told the media in Beijing that “China resolutely opposes the 14th Dalai Lama visiting border regions disputed by China and India” and warned that this would “seriously damage” bilateral relations. He dubbed the Dalai Lama as a “dangerous separatist” and urged India to “avoid taking any actions that would further complicate the border issue.” On April 4, the Chinese state media reacted vehemently, saying India “is deliberately risking confrontation” with China by allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh and warned that there will be “severe consequences” in bilateral ties if the visit was allowed.
The trip by the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh is expected to ratchet up tensions between New Delhi and Beijing, which are already festering over a host of strategic issues such as the long-standing unsettled border demarcation between India and China, China’s growing ties with Pakistan and some other South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives which India considers as its own backyard. Analysts say that while India officially would not like any political colour to be attributed to the Dalai Lama’s visit, it is sending a clear message that China has not respected India’s sensitivities in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir by including the disputed territory in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.