China on Thursday said India should stop “using” the Dalai Lama to “harm China’s interests” and state-controlled newspapers published editorials condemning India’s move to allow the spiritual leader to travel to Arunachal Pradesh.
On Wednesday, the Chinese government summoned the Indian ambassador in Beijing to register its protest.
While the Global Times called the move “clumsy and rude” and suggested it was India’s response to China for not supporting its membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group or its request to blacklist terror mastermind Masood Azhar, another daily suggested that Beijing should “answer blows with blows”.
At a press conference on Thursday, the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, said: “We have unequivocally expressed our opposition to India’s approval of the Dalai Lama’s activities in the disputed eastern section of the China-India boundary. The Indian side has breached its commitment on Tibet related issues, further escalated the boundary dispute and undermined mutual trust and relations between China and India.” Asked about media reports that this was India’s response to the NSG issue, Hua said: “We will not speculate about India’s motive.”
Hua said: “We urge the Indian side to stop its erroneous act of using the Dalai Lama to harm China’s interests.”
An editorial in the government-run China Daily read: “If New Delhi chooses to play dirty, however, Beijing should not hesitate to answer blows with blows”. It termed the visit a “double affront” to Beijing, observing that the Dalai Lama was not only invited to visit a disputed territory but was accompanied by a “junior minister”. It said India’s move was “not just unethical. It is outright illicit.”
The Communist Party of China-run tabloid Global Times said: “India’s use of Dalai Lama card tactless”. It asked if India could afford the consequences of China as a rival. “Recently, India has been strongly dissatisfied with China for not supporting its membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Its request to name Masood Azhar, head of Pakistani militant group, to a UN Security Council blacklist was disapproved by China, resulting in some Indians calling for a boycott of Chinese goods.” The Dalai’s visit to Arunachal was New Delhi’s “diplomatic tool” to put pressure on China, the tabloid said.
It went on to point out China’s strategic and financial strengths, and asked: “… If China engages in a geopolitical game with India, will Beijing lose to New Delhi?”