More than 50 days since the border standoff began at Doklam, the Dalai Lama on Wednesday said that it is “not a very serious issue”, and that the two countries have to live as neighbours. The Tibetan spiritual leader said there are periods when the countries use “harsh words”, but the spirit of “Hindi-Chini bhai bhai (India-China brotherhood)” is the only way forward. “I do not think it (Doklam standoff) is very serious. India and China have to live side by side…. Even in 1962, Chinese forces had reached Bomdilla, (and) eventually withdrew. India and China have to live side by side,” he said.
There has been a widespread speculation that the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in April this year may have been a trigger for China’s aggressive posture in Doklam. There has not been any concrete evidence to support that claim, however. Beijing had then warned New Delhi of adverse consequences. Speaking at the Rajendra Mathur Memorial Lecture organised by the Editors Guild of India, the Tibetan spiritual leader on Wednesday said that “propaganda makes things complicated”, and that the media is to blame for the sharp rhetoric.
This is the first time the Dalai Lama has spoken publicly on the Doklam standoff. On Wednesday, the Dalai Lama said, “Our small Tibetan community fully practices democracy and I am an admirer of democracy…. Eventually, as per wishes of the Chinese people, the Communist Party of China may follow our practice (democracy).” He also said that he enjoys the freedom in India. “There is freedom in this country— I can do more and have more opportunity to share. Where there is no freedom, I don’t like,” he said. Beijing regards the Dalai Lama as a “separatist”.
In April, following his visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang had said, “For some time, due to reasons known to all, the political foundation for China-India relations has been damaged, casting a shadow over bilateral relations and the boundary negotiations.” He had said, “What is imperative now is for the Indian side to take concrete actions to honour its solemn promises on Tibet-related issues as well as the important consensus reached by the two sides on settling the boundary issue, in particular never again using the 14th Dalai Lama to undermine China’s core interests…”