India playing Dalai Lama card, won’t allow it a free ride: Chinese media

Updated on Apr 08, 2017 07:28 PM IST

Chinese media calls absurd India’s statement that the Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit was an internal matter, warns of retaliatory measures.

Huge crowds braved pouring rain to greet the Dalai Lama in Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh, on Tuesday.(PTI photo)
Huge crowds braved pouring rain to greet the Dalai Lama in Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh, on Tuesday.(PTI photo)
Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis

The Chinese state media lashed out at India on Wednesday, a day after the Dalai Lama started his Arunachal Pradesh visit, saying China will not allow New Delhi a “free ride” on its economic growth while it endangered Beijing’s core interests.

Calling absurd India’s statement that the Tibetan spiritual leader’s week-long visit to the country’s easternmost state was its internal matter, the media said New Delhi was “playing” the Dalai Lama and his anti-China activities as a diplomatic tool.

“The Dalai Lama has long been active in anti-China separatist activities under the guise of religion. New Delhi inviting the Dalai Lama to sensitive region gravely damages the China-India relationship,” an article in the nationalistic tabloid Global Times said, warning of retaliatory measures.

For almost a month now, China has been warning India against allowing the 81-year-old Tibetan leader to visit Arunachal, which it claims to be part of south Tibet.

India may have underestimated China’s determination to protect its core interests, it said.

“Beijing has voiced concerns over the issue but New Delhi claimed that China shouldn’t intervene in its ‘internal affairs’. This is absurd,” Global Times said, referring to India’s minister Kiren Rijiju’s statement.

The Dalai Lama reached Arunachal on Tuesday for a week-long visit on the invitation of the BJP-ruled state government. Some last-minute changes to his schedule had to be made, not at China’s behest but because of incessant rain.

He will now reach Tawang, an important seat of Tibetan Buddhism, on April 8 for a three-day stay.

He reached the town of Bombila on Tuesday where crowds, including ministers and officials, braved the cold rain and lined the streets to greet him.

The official nature of the programme, the rousing reception and India’s repeated statements that the visit was religious would have upset China even more.

The ministry of foreign affairs, which will reconvene after two days of national holidays, is expected to let it be known at Wednesday’s briefing though state media has taken the lead in

expressing displeasure on government’s behalf.

“Amid Beijing-New Delhi conflicts, the Dalai Lama is now openly used by India as a diplomatic tool to win more leverage,” the newspaper said.

Why is India raking up an old issue?

The daily said New Delhi was unhappy with Beijing’s stance on India’s bid to join the nuclear suppliers group and its effort to get Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar enlisted as a terrorist by the UN. “Therefore, Delhi attempts to play the Tibet card against Beijing,” it said.

Absolving Beijing of charges of anti-India moves, the daily said, “In fact, China has never thought of making trouble for India, and is handling these issues in accordance with international practices and UN regulations.”

Many countries had pledged not to invite the Dalai Lama. As the world’s two largest emerging economies, both sides had great potential for cooperation. New Delhi should overcome its suspicions about Beijing.

Another article in the same newspaper said Sino-Indian relations were facing a tough test and that “economic cooperation has long been seen as the stabiliser for bilateral ties, and expanding common interests between the two countries now appears more important than ever”.

China claims claims about 90,000 square kilometres in Arunachal Pradesh. Several rounds of talks have failed to make progress on the dispute, though there have been relatively few confrontations in recent years.

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