China objected on Friday to Dalai Lama’s scheduled visit to Arunachal Pradesh, saying the invitation to the Tibetan spiritual leader “will only damage peace and stability of the border areas” and affect New Delhi’s ties with Beijing.
The invitation to the “Dalai Lama for activity in the disputed areas between China and India will only damage peace stability of the border areas as well as the bilateral relationship between China and India”, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.
His comments were in response to Dalai Lama’s scheduled visit to Arunachal Pradesh early next year at the invitation of the state’s Chief Minister Pema Khandu. The visit is understood to have been cleared by the Centre. The spiritual leader is likely to visit Tawang, the seat of a Buddhist monastery.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh to be a part of southern Tibet and routinely protests visits by Indian leaders and foreign officials to the area.
Last week, Beijing reacted strongly to American envoy Richard Verma’s October 22 tour to Tawang, saying the ambassador visited a “disputed region”.
In the wake of the US envoy’s visit, China had gone to the extent of warning the US that any interference by it in the Sino-India boundary dispute will make it “more complicated” and “disturb” the hard-won peace at the border.
When asked about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said he is a “guest of India” and is free to travel across the country.
“Dalai Lama is a revered spiritual figure and an honoured guest of India. He is absolutely free to travel to any part of the country.
“It is a fact that he has a sizeable following among the Buddhists in Arunachal Pradesh who like to seek his blessings. He has visited the state in the past as well and we see nothing unusual if he visits again,” Swarup said.
Arunachal government sources said the state was looking forward to the Dalai Lama’s visit.