A bristling China on Friday said Tibetan leader Dalai Lama’s upcoming visit to Arunachal Pradesh will damage Sino-India relations and shake the very “foundation” on which bilateral ties have been built over the years.
In strong language, the foreign ministry said bilateral relations are built on certain foundations but such visits will cause “deep damage” to them.
The Dalai Lama is set to begin a nine-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh – which China claims as part of south Tibet —from April 4 after spending three days in Assam. He will spend two days in Tawang, an important seat of Tibetan Buddhism, and also visit Itanagar and Bomdila.
India has made it clear the visit will go ahead, with junior home minister Kiren Rijiju - who is from Arunachal Pradesh - saying there is “no reason to stop him”.
China is enraged by the upcoming visit – as it is when the Dalai Lama attends any official function or meets leaders. Beijing sees him a “dangerous separatist” and a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, who under the “camouflage” of greater autonomy for Tibet Autonomous Region, wants to create an independent Tibet or a breakaway region from China.
On Friday, China reiterated its opposition to the visit.
“China and India are two major developing countries and we are close neighbours. It is very important for the two peoples to maintain sound and steady China-India relations,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.
“But such a relationship has to be built on certain foundations. Such visits will have deep damage on China-India relations. We have asked India to stick to its political pledges and not to hurt China-India relations. It will come down to India to make a choice.”
Beijing’s sensitivities also arise from the festering border dispute with India as the boundary between the two large neighbours is yet to be fully demarcated.
“We are seriously concerned about the news. On the eastern section of the China-India border, China’s position is clear and constant. The Dalai-clique has long been engaging in separatist activities with inglorious record,” Lu said.
“India should be very clear with the true nature of the Dalai-clique. But despite this, India still invited the Dalai Lama to visit the region. This will have serious damage on bilateral relations,” he said, responding to a question at the regular foreign ministry briefing.
He added, “China firmly opposes the Dalai Lama carrying out any activities in the relevant region and we have expressed our concerns to the Indian side. We urge India to stick to its political statements, respect the consensus and avoid doing anything that might further complicate the matter.
“It should not provide any platform for the Dalai-clique and only that way can China-India relations move forward in a sound and steady way.”
In 1959, the Dalai Lama had escaped from China through Tawang, considered one of the most important seats of Tibetan Buddhism. Since then, he has visited Arunachal Pradesh in 1983, 1997, 2003 and 2009.