‘Buddhist community India’s frontline defenders’: What Dalai Lama said at US meet
The Chinese embassy in New Delhi opposed any contact between foreign officials and “Tibetan independence” forces, saying ‘no external forces have the right to interfere’
NEW DELHI: US special coordinator for Tibetan issues Uzra Zeya’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in New Delhi triggered an angry response on Monday from China, which said “no external forces have the right to interfere” in the affairs of Tibet.
Zeya, who is also US under secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights, began a visit to India on Sunday. Shortly after arriving in New Delhi, she met the Dalai Lama along with senior US officials and discussed the situation in Tibet.
In a strongly worded statement, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi opposed any contact between foreign officials and “Tibetan independence” forces. “Xizang (Tibet) affairs are purely internal affairs of China and no external forces have the right to interfere,” it said.
A post on Facebook by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said the Dalai Lama met a US delegation led by Zeya. Penpa Tsering, the political leader of the CTA who was part of the Dalai Lama’s delegation, said the discussions at the meeting centred around the need to preserve Tibet’s rich and valuable cultural heritage.
“This comes at a time when Chinese Buddhists are devoid of spirituality,” Tsering said. He added that the Dalai Lama had jokingly told Zeya that he is the “defence minister for India in the Himalayas” and that the “Buddhist community is the frontline defender for India”.
The Ukraine crisis also figured in the meeting and the Dalai Lama expressed his desire to see a weapons-free world, Tsering said. He added that Zeya has been very active on Tibetan issues, including the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, since her appointment by the Biden administration.
Besides Tsering, Norzin Dolma, the minister of information and international relations, Tencho Gyatso, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, and several senior Tibetan officials participated in the meeting. The US delegation included Donald Lu, assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs, US ambassador Eric Garcetti, and USAID deputy assistant administrator Anjali Kaur.
The Chinese embassy’s statement described the position held by Zeya as “pure offense and a move of political manipulation to interfere in China’s internal affairs”. China has always opposed this and never recognised it, it said.
The statement claimed the Dalai Lama is not “just a religious figure, but rather a political exile who has long been engaging in anti-China separatist activities”. The Tibetan government in exile is a “separatist political group and an illegal organisation”, the statement contended.
“The US should take concrete actions to honour its commitment of acknowledging Xizang as part of China, stop meddling in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Xizang-related issues, and offer no support to the anti-China separatist activities...,” it said.
Ahead of her arrival in India, Zeya said in a tweet that she looked forward to “productive meetings with Government of India & civil society leaders building on momentum of @narendramodi’s historic State Visit” to the US last month. India and the US are working together for a “more open, prosperous, secure, inclusive & resilient” world, she said.
Zeya, who will also travel to Bangladesh during July 8-14, is set to meet senior government officials in New Delhi to discuss the US-India partnership, including “advancing shared solutions to global challenges, democracy, regional stability, and cooperation on humanitarian relief”, the US state department said.
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