China strongly objected to the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday, saying it will cause “serious damage” to bilateral ties with India. “India in disregard to China’s concerns obstinately arranged the Dalai Lama’s visit to the disputed part of the eastern part of China-India border causing serious damage to China’s interests and China-India relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was quoted as saying by PTI. The country vowed to take necessary action to defend its territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests.
China on Wednesday lodged a protest with India’s Ambassador in Beijing, Vijay Gokhale, over the Dalai Lama’s visit. China has always expressed reservations about the Dalai Lama, who it considers ‘an anti-China separatist.’ Beijing had also seen as a ‘provocation’ when the Dalai Lama met President Pranab Mukherjee recently in New Delhi.
The Tibetan spiritual leader arrived in Bomdila on Tuesday, as part of his nine-day visit to the northeast. His arrival in Tawang has been delayed till April 6 or 7 due to bad weather.
China considers Arunachal Pradesh a disputed region and claims parts of the state as southern Tibet. Ahead of the 81-year-old leader’s arrival to the state, China had issued two warnings to India.
“China’s stand on the eastern part of the borders is consistent and clear. India is keenly aware of the role played by the 14th Dalai Lama. Arranging his visit to those sensitive and disputed areas not only runs counter to the Indian side’s commitment to the issues related to Tibet but also escalate disputes over the border area,” Chunying told PTI.
The Chinese state-run Global Times on Wednesday said New Delhi may have underestimated Beijing’s determination to protect its core interests by allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh. The newspaper is known for closely echoing the opinions and concerns of the ruling Communist Party.
The article came a day after Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju asked China not to interfere in India’s internal affairs.
“There is no political angle behind His Holiness’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. It is completely religious. Arunachal Pradesh is an inseparable part of India and China should not object to his visit and interfere in India’s internal affairs,” Rijiju told reporters on Tuesday.
“We respect Beijing’s ‘One-China’ policy and we expect China to reciprocate,” he added. Rijiju, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh, said the state is “not a disputed territory” and is part of the Union of India.
In response to Rijiju’s statement, Chunying told PTI, “We have noted the statement of the official from the Indian side.”
“Could you tell me honestly do you seriously believe that Dalai is only a religious leader. I think the answer is known to all. He is not just a religious figure. Therefore, his visit to the place will not be purely of religious purpose. So using the empty words to defend this arrangement is not reasonable. We demand the Indian side to stop this move of undermining Chinese interests,” she was quoted as saying by PTI.
The External Affairs Ministry separately said no ‘artificial controversy’ should be created around the leader’s visit.
With inputs from PTI.
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