China angry at Dalai Lama’s Nalanda visit, says move could disrupt ties with India

Updated on Mar 21, 2017 12:54 AM IST

China has criticised the Indian government for inviting the Dalai Lama to an international Buddhist seminar in Bihar last week.

File photo of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, speaking to his followers during a teaching session at a monastery at Mundgod in Karnataka in December 2014.(Reuters)
File photo of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, speaking to his followers during a teaching session at a monastery at Mundgod in Karnataka in December 2014.(Reuters)
Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis

China lashed out at India on Monday for inviting Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to attend and speak at an international Buddhist seminar in Bihar, sponsored by the Central government, saying New Delhi was acting against one of Beijing’s “core concerns”.

Such moves would disrupt bilateral ties, the foreign ministry said.

Beijing regards the Dharamshala-based Dalai Lama as a “separatist” and is sensitive to him meeting international leaders, attending official functions or visiting places at the invitation of the Indian government.

On Friday, the Dalai Lama inaugurated the three-day international Buddhist conference on the theme “The Relevance of Buddhism in the 21st Century” at Nalanda, 100 km from state capital Patna. Buddhists scholars and monks from more than 30 countries attended the seminar.

Minister of state for culture and tourism Mahesh Sharma shared the stage with the Dalai Lama.

“In recent days the Indian side, in total disregard of China’s stern representation and strong opposition, insisted on inviting the 14th Dalai Lama to attend the international conference on Buddhism held by the Indian government,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday.

 “China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to it,” she added.

“We urge the Indian side to clearly see the anti-China splittist nature of the Dalai group and honour its commitment on Tibet and related questions, respect China’s core concerns and avoid China-India relations from being further disrupted and undermined,” Hua said.

This was the second time this month that the foreign ministry issued a strong statement against the Dalai Lama, and what Beijing perceives as India attempting to tweak its commitment to the Tibet and “One-China” policy. Earlier this month, the foreign ministry had said Beijing was “gravely concerned” about the Dalai Lama’s planned visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as south Tibet.

The trip to Arunachal Pradesh will cause “serious damage” to Sino-India ties, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang had said at the time.  “China is strongly opposed to Dalai visiting disputed areas,” he said.

“China’s position on eastern section of China-India border dispute is consistent and clear. The Dalai-clique has long been engaging in anti-China separatist activities and its record on the border question is not that good,” he added.

Last year, Beijing had registered its strong displeasure when the Dalai Lama met Pranab Mukherjee at an official function at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In his speech at Friday’s event, the Dalai Lama remembered the time 60 years ago when then premier Zhou Enlai sent him to Nalanda with the relics of ancient Chinese traveller Xuan Zang to offer to prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Dalai Lama, who escaped from Tibet to India in 1959, also thanked New Delhi for being a “wonderful host which has offered him guest status for such a long time”.

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