India says can’t gag Dalai, China stalls border talks | delhi | Hindustan Times
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India says can’t gag Dalai, China stalls border talks

delhi Updated: Nov 27, 2011 02:40 IST
Jayanth Jacob

Boundary talks between China and India that were to begin on Monday have been postponed at the last minute, because New Delhi pushed Beijing back on the Dalai Lama.

China wanted India to prevent the Dalai Lama from addressing a Buddhist convention, which will be attended by at least 900 delegates from across the world. The convention is scheduled for next week in the Capital.

Beijing fears the conference, which has the support of the ministry of external affairs’ public diplomacy division, could be used for “political activities” due to the presence of the Tibetan spiritual leader.

The Indian side is believed to have conveyed to China that the congregation was of a religious nature and not a political event and it cannot cancel it. India’s stated position is that the Dalai Lama is a "spiritual leader and an honoured guest" and that it won’t allow Indian soil to be used for anti-China political activities. Beijing holds the Dalai Lama as a "separatist".

New Delhi maintains the congregation is organised by the Asoka Mission, founded in 1948 by Cambodian monk Dharmavara Mahathera with the support of many world leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru. The delegates include religious, spiritual and political leaders, scholars and observers.”

China’s special representative (SR), Dai Bingguo, was to travel to the Capital, where he and his counterpart Shivshankar Menon were expected to discuss putting in place a border management mechanism that is in its final stages. India’s ambassador to China, S Jaishankar, arrived here Saturday in connection with the border talks.

There was no official word on the reason for the postponement of the talks between the SRs.

Similar to what the Chinese had to say, the MEA issued a statement: “We are looking forward to the 15th round of SR talks in the near future and the two sides remain in touch to find convenient dates.”

This episode is an addition to earlier ones that have led to some flared bilateral tempers. The most recent irritant for China has been India’s project to explore for oil and gas in the South China Sea in partnership with Vietnam. China earlier issued a demarche to India on the matter, saying it had complete sovereignty over the South China Sea. The issue was again brought up at the Asean and east Asia meet in Bali earlier this month.

India has stuck to its position, but not outrightly rejecting China’s claim, thus not provoking any strong reaction.

Earlier flashpoints were over China issuing visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir on separate pieces of paper and saying that visitors from Arunachal Pradesh don’t require visas at all, indicating that it had territorial rights over Indian soil.