New Delhi is deliberately risking confrontation with Beijing by allowing Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to visit Arunachal Pradesh in the coming weeks, Chinese state media warned on Monday, adding that there will be “severe consequences” in bilateral ties if the visit was allowed.
Lashing out at India, the state media comment piece said the 81-year-old was no “spiritual leader” but a separatist. The Chinese government has earlier called him “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and blamed him for inciting self-immolations in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and neighbouring provinces.
The ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) last week said Beijing was “gravely concerned” about the planned visit of the Dalai Lama to the northeastern Indian state, which it claims is disputed and part of south Tibet, in the coming weeks.
It will cause “serious damage” to Sino-India ties, Geng Shuang, MFA spokesperson said at a press briefing on Friday. “China is strongly opposed to Dalai visiting disputed areas,” he said.
“China is gravely concerned over such information. China’s position on eastern section of China India border dispute is consistent and clear. The Dalai-clique has long been engaging in anti-China separatist activities and its record on the border question is not that good,” he said.
The nationalistic tabloid, Global Times, picked up from where Geng had stopped last week.
“These Indian officials apparently didn’t realize, or deliberately ignored, the severe consequences the Dalai Lama’s trip would bring. The 14th Dalai Lama is by no means a spiritual leader but a Tibetan separatist. Allowing the Dalai Lama to visit the disputed area will inevitably trigger confrontation, undermine the stability of the region and sour Sino-Indian relations,” the newspaper said in the comment piece.
At the same time, the Indian government is mistaken about the how important the Dalai Lama is as a “strategic asset” – his importance in that context has diminished but China continues to be determined to safeguard its “core” interests.
“For a long time, some Indians have considered the Dalai Lama as a strategic asset. They believe that India could gain many benefits by using the Dalai issue as leverage. For instance, making an issue of the Dalai Lama could serve as a diplomatic tool to deal with China’s growing economic and political influence in South Asia,” the article said.
“However, they overestimate the political value of the Dalai Lama and his group while miscalculating China’s determination to safeguard its core interests,” it added. The visit will disrupt the momentum in good bilateral ties, which saw a boost during last month’s strategic dialogue, the article said.
“The good momentum for the bilateral relationship in recent years shouldn’t be disrupted. In future, there is great potential for the two countries to tap into cooperation,” it said.
“As the two biggest emerging economies, they have vast common interests on establishing a new global financial order, tackling climate change and other major issues. Now China and India have come to a critical period to further upgrade bilateral ties.”