Beijing renamed places in Arunachal Pradesh because of Dalai Lama’s Tawang visit

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, center, in yellow robes, returns after teachings at the Thupsung Dhargyeling Monastery in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India, on 6 April 2017.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, center, in yellow robes, returns after teachings at the Thupsung Dhargyeling Monastery in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, India, on 6 April 2017.
File photo/AP/Tenzin Choejor

By Krishna Kumar | TNN

MUMBAI, India, 22 April 2017

A high-ranking official of the Chinese government in India has admitted Beijing’s recent renaming of six places in Arunachal Pradesh was in retaliation for Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s Tawang visit recently.

“If India enforces its rights in the area, don’t you think China will react to it,” the senior Chinese official in India told a couple of journalists in Mumbai on Friday. He said that New Delhi had a role in the Dalai Lama’s visit.

“For the past 9 years, you [Indian government] did not allow him to visit. This time he went. He made political comments there. This was not just a religious visit,” he alleged. When asked if he was accusing New Delhi of deliberately allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang, the Chinese official said, “The Dalai Lama needs your government’s approval and clearance to visit that area. Not everyone can go there; it is not easy.”

The official spoke to ET on the sidelines of the ‘One Belt One Road’ conference organised by the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai on Friday. At the conference, Chinese officials pitched for India’s participation in the project, but were not willing to address Indian concerns.

When asked why China kept blocking India’s move to designate Masood Azhar as a terrorist, the Chinese official feigned ignorance about Masood Azhar being a terrorist. “I don’t have details about him [Azhar]. If he was a terrorist, why did your country trade him for hostages [in the Kandhar hijack]? Are you saying that you can return a terrorist in spite of the costs involved? Or was some there some doubt on whether he was a terrorist,” the official asked, belittling India’s concerns on Azhar.

He added that China would continue to block India’s attempts to have Azhar designated as a terrorist unless Pakistan agrees with India that Azhar is a terrorist.

“We need to consult with related parties. Which is why we encourage the two [India and Pakistan] to talk on this issue. The core issue is to make India’s diplomacy more active. Make your neighbour feel comfortable to co-operate on the issue,” he said. While not acceding to India’s concerns, the Chinese official advised New Delhi not to ‘complicate ties’ by linking issues with Azhar, the Dalai Lama’s visit, or have ties with Taiwan, which China considers as part of its territory.

“India has already made a commitment to respect China’s territorial integrity. India has also made a commitment that both Taiwan and Tibet are part of China. Our relationship is based on this. We need not provoke or violate it. The other issues like Kashmir and Masood Azhar are new. If we try to link it with one another then it would complicate our ties,” said the official.

He said that the bilateral ties would suffer if New Delhi ‘plays’ the Dalai Lama ‘card’. “Don’t let the Dalai Lama, don’t let this guy [in Arunachal Pradesh]. For Chinese he is not a VIP. For the Chinese, he is a very incurable person. He is a very dishonest person. But in India, you treat him like he is a VIP. The Chinese people are unhappy and upset about it.”


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