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Dalai Lama's Arunachal Pradesh visit asserts India's territorial claim, a provocation: China

The Dalai Lama waves as he leaves Jangchub Chorten in India's Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang on April 9. Photograph: (Reuters)

PTI Beijing, China Apr 12, 2017, 12.40 PM (IST)

China Wednesday warned India that Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh will have a "negative impact" on the settlement of the border dispute with the northeastern state, parts of which China claims as southern Tibet.

It also said the provocative statements made by India during the course of the exiled Tibetan leader's visit to India violated its commitment on the issue of Tibet.

Pema Khandu, chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, told Reuters on April 5 that he regarded the land on the other side of the border as Tibet, not China.

"As far as the boundary issue is concerned, I have also maintained that we don't share our boundary with China, but we share our boundary with Tibet," the Arunachal Pradesh chief minister had said.

Without naming Khandu, China's foreign ministry said "some specific Indian official" had indulged in provocative political statement and that they "exceeded the scope of religious activities".

"What India has done is violated the solemn commitment on Tibet-related issues and it also has a negative impact on proper settlement of the territorial disputes between the two sides through negotiations," said China's foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang.

Lu Kang said the Dalai Lama supported that stand.

“The Dalai clique already fully stands with the position of foreigners. His display cannot in the slightest impact China’s position on the border and Tibet,” Lu Kang said.

He also said despite China's objection, India insisted on arranging the Dalai Lama's visit "in the disputed areas of the eastern section of the China-India boundary". 

Lu also termed the Dalai Lama's visit a "disgraceful performance", which will by no means change China's position on the border and Tibet-related issues nor the fact that the Tibetan government is "exercising effective administration".

"The Dalai Lama has disgraceful performance on the boundary question. This time he called himself the son of India and also backed up unfounded statement by the official of the so-called Arunachal Pradesh of India," Lu said.

"The Dalai Lama attacked the Chinese government on Tibet-related issues and advertised his political views on splitting China. It showed the Dalai clique has already viewed itself as foreign," he said.

The Dalai Lama's week-long trip to Arunachal Pradesh has infuriated China who considers the exiled Tibetan leader to be a dangerous separatist.

"China has lodged representations with the Indian side and we will take further action to safeguard the territorial sovereignty and national security," Lu said, without elaborating.

He said the boundary and Tibet-related questions "bear the political foundation of China-India relationship" and the two countries have reached "important consensus" of resolving the dispute through talks and consultations.

"We hope that the Indian side bear in mind the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples and safeguard the political foundation of the bilateral relationship and do not take any provocative actions," he said.

Asked to elaborate what "negative impact" he was referring to on the border dispute, Lu said, "I would like to correct one mistake in your remark, I said the Dalai Lama was visiting the disputed eastern section of the China-India boundary. It's not the Indian territory. The Indian government has made solemn commitment on Tibet-related issues and the boundary question," he said.

"We have lessons to learn from history. When the Indian side violated commitments on the relevant issues, the Indian side insisted on arranging the visit of the Dalai Lama in the disputed section of the China-Indian boundary and indulged in provocative political statements. We have already expressed our solemn representations and it will of course have negative impact on bilateral relations," he said.

India and China have been negotiating on the border dispute for more than 20 years but an agreement is yet to be reached. The dispute covers the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control that separates India's Arunachal Pradesh from China.

While China claims parts of Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet, India asserts the dispute also covers the Aksai Chin area, which China occupied during the 1962 Sino-India war.

China is opposed to the Nobel laureate's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, particularly to Tawang, which happens to be the birth place of the sixth Dalai Lama in 1683. It is also at the centre of Tibetan Buddhism.

China's media and foreign ministry have repeatedly aired their opposition to the Dalai Lama's visit to the region. An article in the state-run China Daily today said the people of Arunachal Pradesh live "difficult lives" under India's "illegal" rule and they look forward to returning to China.

Building on the argument in the leading daily, Lu claimed Tibet is achieving faster growth. "It will make people see clear that the Dalai Lama is "attempting to split China and damaging interests of all ethnic groups in China." 

(WION with inputs from PTI, Reuters)

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