Chinese experts have warned India against using Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama as a “bargaining chip” in solving bilateral territorial disputes, saying New Delhi is asking for trouble by inviting him and spoiling its image among the people of China.
The remarks come a day after the ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) snapped at India for inviting the Dalai Lama to an international seminar on Buddhism in Bihar over the weekend.
India experts in China say it was yet another attempt by India to use the Tibetan leader to send a message across the border on territorial disputes.
On Friday, the Dalai Lama inaugurated the three-day international Buddhist conference on the theme “The Relevance of Buddhism in the 21st Century” at Nalanda, 100 km from Patna. Buddhists scholars and monks from more than 30 countries attended the seminar.
Minister of state for culture and tourism Mahesh Sharma shared the stage with the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet to India in 1959 and is based in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. His presence in India has been a contentious bilateral issue, with Beijing considering him a separatist and blaming him for inciting more than 120 cases of self-immolations in regions where Tibetans live in China.
“The invitation to the Dalai Lama, a separatist figure, demonstrates that India is trying to secure concessions over South Tibet through such provocation, Wang Dehua, director of the Institute for Southern and Central Asian Studies at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies,” told the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid with links to the People’s Daily, the Communist party mouthpiece.
“But in doing so, India is asking for trouble, worsening the bilateral relations and impeding normal bilateral discussion,” Wang added.
Hu Shisheng, an India expert and director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies, said “India deliberately used the Dalai Lama, who is not only a religious figure but also a political one, as a ‘legal excuse’ to claim the disputed region.”
“India has been bolder to follow the US, considering that its rhetoric on the Tibet question is increasingly intensifying when many Western countries are playing it down,” Hu told the newspaper.
Hu added: “India’s aggressive gesture of inviting the Dalai Lama will bring no benefit to India, but tarnish India’s image among Chinese people”.
The experts’ opinions follow a sharp reaction from the MFA on Monday.
“We urge the Indian side to clearly recognize the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai clique, abide by its promises on the Tibet question, respect China’s core interests and avoid further disturbances and harm to China-India relations,” MFA spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said Monday.
“Recently, India ignored China’s solemn representations and strong opposition and insisted on inviting the 14th Dalai Lama to attend an international Buddhist conference organised by the Indian government,” Hua said.
The reaction from the Chinese government is expected to be even more stronger if the Dalai Lama visits Arunachal Pradesh next month; the Indian state claimed by China as south Tibet.