China on Monday denied that Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa was its spy and claimed allegations against it showed India's "mistrustful attitude" towards Beijing.
"The speculation by India's media, regarding the matter of the Karmapa as a Chinese agent or spy, shows that India is keeping its mistrustful attitude toward China," said Xu Zhitao, an official of the United Front Work Department of the ruling Communist Party Central Committee.
The Karmapa heads one of the four sects of Tibetan Buddhism and could emerge as a future spiritual leader of Tibet on the death of the 75-year-old Dalai Lama, who has said he might not be replaced.
Police in Dharamshala have quizzed the Karmapa and arrested several aides after cash -- mostly in US dollars but also in Chinese yuan and two dozen other currencies -- at their monastery. Xu was the first Chinese official to comment after allegations that Karmapa was a Chinese spy.
"The 17th Karmapa Living Buddha (Monks in Tibet are called living Buddhas) is the first reincarnated Living Buddha confirmed and approved by the Central Government of the People's Republic of China after the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951," said Xu, who
"The reincarnation of holy men is a unique form of succession in Tibetan Buddhism, which has long been recognized and respected," Xu told state-run 'Global Times'.
"Karmapa left China in 1999 for the purpose of religious behaviors, just as he claimed," said Xu.
Xu didn't comment on Karmapa's allegations that he had fled to India because the Chinese authorities were pressuring him to denounce Dalai Lama and support another spiritual leader called the Panchen Lama, whom Beijing supports.
The Global Times, which published Xu's comments in a report, seemed to frown upon on the Indian media. "This is not the first time that India's media has linked 'spies' with China. Earlier this month, three Chinese citizens were arrested in India on suspicion of money laundering and spying on border security. But the Chinese foreign ministry said they were actually tourists who had mistakenly crossed the border from Nepal," it said.