Why the Dalai Lama makes China see red | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Why the Dalai Lama makes China see red

New Delhi has twice had to fend off diplomatic protests from China on the Dalai Lama's public appearances in barely a fortnight. However, Beijing's acute attack of "Lama-itis" is a global affliction. HT reports. China consider me as demon: The Dalai Lama

delhi Updated: Dec 02, 2011 00:37 IST
HT Correspondent

New Delhi has twice had to fend off diplomatic protests from China on the Dalai Lama's public appearances in barely a fortnight. However, Beijing's acute attack of "Lama-itis" is a global affliction.

China recently forced South Africa to refuse the Tibetan leader a visa. It had him disinvited from a Cambodian conference in December last year. But others have cocked a snook: Mongolians ignored Beijing and the Buddhist leader visited their country in November.

Even US President Barack Obama, an early votary of partnership with China, met His Holiness in July.

Because the Dalai Lama resides in India, say officials, China has taken a different tack to his activities here. Beijing publicly tolerates any activity that does not have the entre's imprimatur.

"They don't mind if he meets state government officials," said an official.

Broadly, China still abides by this rule. However, it has become intolerant of even accidental infractions. Beijing reportedly rejected Indian compromises regarding the World Buddhist Conference in New Delhi such as having the Dalai Lama speak after the Indian president departed or the president not showing up at all.

China doesn't accept New Delhi's argument that in the case of the Kolkatta conference, Governor MK Narayan had accepted when the Tibetan leader was not a participant.

Additionally, Beijing has dropped quiet diplomacy in favour of tough-worded demands. In a recent battle over a minor UN job, China flatly told India to drop its candidacy. Making trades over UN seats is common, but Beijing insisted "our way or the highway".

In that and other cases New Delhi is increasingly less conciliatory. Beijing seems to want to restrict even the Dalai Lama's religious activities. "We can't concede on this," said a senior officials. The fear is Beijing will demand more.

Why has China become so touchy? Given its opaque politics, only theories exist.

* One, Beijing is on edge over the recent Tibetan self-immolations against Chinese repression. That the centre of these protests is Sichuan – outside Tibet's official borders and in China's heartland – has rattled the system even more.

* Two, His Holiness's claim in September that his next reincarnation need not wait for his death and could be an adult has put paid to hopes that his demise would neuter the Tibetan movement.

* Three, a new Chinese leadership is taking over and jockeying between aspirants has allowed hardliners to come to the fore and moderate voices, like China's foreign ministry, to be sidelined.

* Lastly, a rising China is simply showing "its true colours". The West is in decline and China sees no challengers on the horizon – India's GDP is one-fourth China's and is falling further behind. Succession is irrelevant: Beijing will be assertive because it wants to be and aggressive because it can be.