South Asia | Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal despite China’s warning
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama speaks at a conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo/REUTERS/Files
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama speaks at a conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo/REUTERS/Files

Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal despite China’s warning

Indian minister to meet the spiritual leader at Tawang monastery, but Beijing insists this will harm Sino-Indian ties and peace in the region

NEW DELHI, March 4, 2017 9:36 PM (UTC+8)

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama will visit Arunachal Pradesh next month as scheduled despite China’s warning it could harm Sino-Indian ties and peace in the border region between the neighbors.

During his April 4-13 visit, the Dalai Lama will meet his followers including federal Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju at Tawang monastery, the largest in India and the second largest in the world.

Rijiju represents the Arunachal West constituency, which covers the Tawang district.

Commenting on China’s “grave concern” over the Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit, he said India’s interests came first for the federal government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Friday underlined the seriousness and sensitivity of Dalai Lama’s visit.

India should stick to its political commitments and consensus on the boundary question and refrain from providing a platform to Dalai Lama, Geng said.

His comments came after a former Chinese negotiator told a journal that the border dispute can be resolved if India accepted Beijing’s claim over Tawang.

Former Chinese diplomat Dai Bingguo said a solution to the border issue was within grasp if India and China responded to each other’s territorial concerns.

Tawang is a disputed territory. Even British colonialists who drew the disputed McMahon Line as the boundary between China and India viewed Tawang as part of China’s Tibet, Dai told China-India Dialogue magazine.

He said it was up to Indian and China now to correct the mistakes committed by colonialists.

Since the 1980s, China has been promising concessions in the western sector if India makes concessions in the east.

However, India regards Tawang as an integral part of Arunachal Pradesh.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of Tibet and objects to visits by dignitaries to the area.

Last year, China criticized the US for sending its ambassador in India Richard Verma to the Arunachal region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang then said Washington should respect efforts by China and India toward peaceful reconciliation.

India described Verma’s visit as “nothing unusual.”

China and India had fought a brief war in 1962 over parts of the 3,500km border that they share.

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