US secretary of state Antony Blinken (left) and US ambassador to India Atul Keshap deliver remarks to civil society organisation representatives at a meeting in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
US secretary of state Antony Blinken (left) and US ambassador to India Atul Keshap deliver remarks to civil society organisation representatives at a meeting in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday. (REUTERS)

China lashes out at Blinken’s meeting with Dalai Lama aide

US secretary of state’s meeting with Ngodup Dongchung was seen as the most significant one since the Dalai Lama met then-president Barack Obama in Washington in 2016.
By Sutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda
UPDATED ON JUL 29, 2021 05:41 PM IST

Beijing on Thursday lashed out at the US secretary of state Antony Blinken for meeting Tibetan leader Dalai Lama’s representative in New Delhi, saying it violated Washington’s commitment to recognise Tibet as part of China.

Blinken on Wednesday met with Ngodup Dongchung, a representative of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also known as the Tibetan government-in-exile, who presented him with a scarf from the Dharmshala-based Dalai Lama.

Blinken also met Geshe Dorji Damdul, director of Tibet House in Delhi, during an interaction with representatives from civil society groups.

Blinken’s meeting with Ngodup Dongchung was seen as the most significant one since the Dalai Lama met then-president Barack Obama in Washington in 2016.

A day later, the Chinese foreign ministry reacted sharply to the interaction, saying it was an interference in China’s affairs. Speaking on Thursday, spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the Tibet affairs were purely China’s own affairs and should not be interfered with by any outside forces. “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,” Zhao said when asked to respond to Blinken’s meetings.

China, Zhao said, firmly opposes any form of contact between officials of any country and the Dalai Lama.

The US contacts with the “Dalai clique”, and any form they take, violate the US commitment to recognise Tibet as part of China, he 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,” he said.

“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,” Zhao said.

China, he said, will take all necessary measures to defend its rights and interests.

Blinken’s meeting with representatives of the Dalai Lama comes weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished the Tibetan leader ahead of his 86th birthday on July 6 - a rare public messaging to him from an Indian leader given China’s sensitivities.

China’s President Xi Jinping visited the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) earlier this month for the first time, beginning his visit from a village close to the border with the Indian state of 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 of China (CPC)-ruled central government.

Citing historical precedence, a government policy paper on Tibet said 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.

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