China targets Antony Blinken for meeting Dalai Lama aide
The Chinese government on Thursday lashed out at the US secretary of state Antony Blinken for meeting Tibetan leader Dalai Lama’s representative in New Delhi, terming it “a violation of the US commitment to acknowledge Tibet being a part of China”.
The statement came a day after Blinken began his formal engagements in New Delhi on Wednesday by meeting Ngodup Dongchung of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). Dongchung presented Blinken with a scarf from the Dalai Lama and conveyed the CTA’s gratitude for the US administration’s backing of the Tibetan cause.
“The 14th Dalai Lama is not a mere religious figure, but a political exile who has long engaged in anti-China separatist activities and is trying to separate Tibet from China,” said spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, at a press briefing.
Shortly after the meeting, Blinken also met Geshe Dorji Damdul, director of Tibet House in New Delhi, for a civil society roundtable.
Asserting that Tibet affairs were purely China’s own affairs and should not be interfered with by any outside forces, Zhao said: “Any formal contact between the US and the Dalai clique is a violation of the US commitment to acknowledge Tibet being a part of China; do not support Tibetan independence, do not support attempts to separate China.”
“We urge the US to honour its commitment to stop meddling in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Tibetan affairs, and offer no support to Tibet independence forces to engage in anti-China separatist activities,” he added.
The engagement with Dongchung was seen as the most significant contact between American and Tibetan officials since former president Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama in Washington in 2016 and former CTA head Lobsang Sangay was invited to the White House last November.
The meeting also came days after US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and raised American concerns about human rights, including abuses in Tibet, the anti-democracy crackdown in Hong Kong, and the genocide in Xinjiang.
People familiar with the development, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the meetings are being seen as a strong signal of support for the Dalai Lama and was also significant as it was held in India at a time when New Delhi and Beijing are locked in standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
On July 6, in a rare public message from an Indian leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished the Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday.
Weeks later, on July 21, China’s President Xi Jinping visited the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) for the first time, beginning his visit from a border village close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
In May, China said it would choose the successor to the Dalai Lama through “drawing lots from the golden urn” with the candidate subject to the approval of the Communist Party China (CPC)-ruled central government.
Citing historical precedence, a government policy paper on Tibet, said that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other grand Living Buddhas has been subjected to approval by the central government since an ordinance passed during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
“The ordinance stipulated that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other grand Living Buddhas had to follow the procedure of ‘drawing lots from the golden urn’, and the selected candidate would be subject to approval by the central government of China,” the White Paper, titled “Tibet Since 1951: Liberation, Development and Prosperity”, said.