Calling Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a “separatist” who wants to create an independent political entity in China, a top Beijing-based think-tank on Thursday said India should not allow him to visit “disputed areas” and emphasised that only Beijing will decide his who his successor will be, when needed.
The Dalai Lama on April 1 is expected to begin a tour of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh – which China claims is part of south Tibet. He will be in Tawang between April 5 and 7 where he slated to deliver religious lectures. The Chinese government has already warned India that it is “gravely concerned” about the visit.
On Thursday, the China Tibetology Research Centre (CTRC) sent out a sharp note of displeasure.
“So Tawang is part of Tibet and Tibet is part of China, so Tawang is part of China. Not much of a question,” Lian Xiangmin, director of the CTRC-affiliated Institute of Contemporary Tibetan Studies said. “In recent years, the Indian government has given support or made arrangements for the Dalai Lama to visit the Tawang region. It seems to us something not very friendly,” Lian said at a rare press conference organised by the CTRC, one of eight senior scholars on Tibet deployed to field questions from reporters.
“We know between China and India (there is the) boundary question. We shouldn’t sensitive areas. Such a visit by Dalai Lama touches sensitive issues and (will) undoubtedly negatively affect China-India relations,” he said.
“During his (last) visit to Tawang, he said Tawang is part of India. That is not true and not according to facts. It undermines friendly relations between China and India. I do hope to see friendly relations between our two countries. We don’t want to see such things happening time and again.”
“This time around Indian government arranged visit will only hurt friendly relations between the two countries,” he said.
“We do hope history and facts will be respected by both parties. Our two countries have every reason to keep friendly and sound relations,” he said.
On the importance of the Tawang monastery, he said it was a subsidiary of the Zhaibang monastery (Drepung in Tibetan) in Lhasa — one of the three major temples of Tibetan Buddhism. “Monks from Tawang went to Zhaibang to study ‘sutras’,” he said.
On the issue of Dalai Lama’s succession, Lian said it has to be done according to “historical conventions and religious rituals”.
“I hope that his successor should be found in his hometown in China,” Lian said. “In China, there are 6 million Tibetan people. Apart from religious followers who are Tibetan, there are also people of other ethnic groups who follow Tibetan Buddhism. I believe they hope to see the successor of the 14th Dalai Lama produced in their neighbourhood in China. We need to respect the wish of these religious followers,” he said.
Lian said the Dalai Lama has predicted that he will live till the age of 113. “So, we now have 31 years to go, so I don’t think it is appropriate to talk about it (succession) 31 years in advance,” he said not without a hint of sarcasm.
Four problems that China has with the Dalai Lama
1. Dalai Lama claims Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is part of China but only after China occupied it in 1951.
2. China says he has never stopped “separatist” activities.
3. China claims the Dalai Lama wants to establish a political entity in China spanning some 2.5 million sq km — a fourth of the total land area of China — which comprises TAR, Qinghai and parts of Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.
4. The Dalai Lama wants to visit Taiwan and has never recognised it as part of China. Beijing calls Taiwan a breakaway region of the mainland.