The Hindu – Ties severely damaged, says China

Atul Aneja

Beijing, 5 April 2017. Analysts say CM Pema Khandu’s statement can be interpreted as questioning the “one-China” principle.

The row between India and China on the visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh spiralled on Wednesday, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry asserting that the Tibetan leader’s visit to the State “will escalate the dispute in border areas.” China also lodged a protest with India’s Ambassador in Beijing Vijay Gokhale.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying stressed, in response to a question at her regular briefing that the Dalai Lama’s visit had “severely damaged” Sino-Indian ties.

“India is keenly aware of the role of the 14th Dalai Lama. Arranging this visit to the disputed areas not only runs counter to India’s commitments on Tibet but will escalate the dispute in border areas,” she observed.

Chinese interests hit

Ms Hua said that the Tibetan leader’s visit had “severely damaged China’s interests.”

According to her, India had acted “obstinately “by green-lighting the visit, despite repeated Chinese protests.

Arunachal Pradesh is at the heart of the Sino-Indian boundary dispute in the eastern sector.

The dispute in this zone is over territory south of the McMahon Line in Arunachal Pradesh, which includes Tawang,  which is on the Dalai Lama’s itinerary. The McMahon Line was the result of the 1914 Simla Convention, between British India and Tibet, and was rejected by China.

Reuters quoted Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh as saying that the State does not share a boundary with China, but with Tibet.

“As far as the boundary issue is concerned, I have also maintained that we don’t share our boundary with China, but we share our boundary with Tibet,” he observed. Analysts say that the statement can be interpreted as questioning the “one-China” principle.

An op-ed in the state-run tabloid Global Times accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of seemingly taking “a different stance on the Dalai issue, raising public engagements with the monk and challenging Beijing’s bottom line.”

Rejecting India’s position that the visit was purely religious in nature, Ms. Hua said that no one believed that the Dalai Lama was visiting a “disputed region” for religious reasons alone.

“We demand the Indian side immediately stop wrong actions, not hype up sensitive issues and take concrete steps to safeguard growth of India-China relations,” she observed.

Sections of the Chinese state media have linked the Dalai Lama’s visit as India’s comeback to Beijing’s refusal so far to include Masood Azhar, the head of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad group in the U.N. ban list, as well as obstruction to New Delhi’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

“New Delhi is dissatisfied with Beijing’s stance over its membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group [NSG] and its request to name Masood Azhar, head of Pakistani militant group, to a U.N. Security Council blacklist. Therefore, Delhi attempts to play the Tibet card against Beijing,” wrote the Global Times.

Long Xingchun, Director of the Center of India Studies, China West Normal University, told The Hindu that the move of allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal is “not helpful for winning China’s support for India’s membership to the NSG and the listing of Masood Azhar in the UN 1267 committee.”

He said that India may have the motive of “reinforcing its legitimacy over the disputed area, with the Dalai Lama as the vehicle.”

When asked for its reaction, the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi referred to its statement a day earlier.

“We clearly said that the Dalai Lama is a revered religious leader and has visited Arunachal earlier on half a dozen occasions. We also urged that no political colour be ascribed to his religious and spiritual activities and to his visits to States of India, and no artificial controversy created around his ongoing visit.”

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/dalai-lamas-arunachal-visit-will-escalate-dispute-in-border-areas-china/article17829106.ece

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