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Tibetan Spiritual Leader Dalai Lama episode: Beijing chooses to respond this India visit with an Outrage

The Dalai Lama's visit to Tawang, the town along the India-China border where the sixth Dalai Lama was born 334 years ago, has always had unnerving optics for Beijing

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Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama, wikimedia

New Delhi, April 12, 2017: India has to do no more than let the Dalai Lama be the Dalai Lama in order to rile China from time to time.

As diplomatic provocation goes, the Dalai Lama’s just-concluded visit to Arunachal Pradesh was quite like the six previous ones, the last one being in 2009. Yet, Beijing has chosen to respond to this visit with an outrage that feels discernibly sharper than in the past. Perhaps what has accentuated the Chinese anger was an accompaniment in the form of Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju.

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Beijing, which treats the Dalai Lama purely as a political animal even at the best of times, saw in Rijiju’s presence a calculated political dimension. New Delhi, being justifiably crafty about it, dismissed the suggestion.

The simple fact is that the Indian government is now more amenable to occasionally tapping into the Dalai Lama’s obvious political consequence than before. The logic seems to be that since China treats all things Dalai Lama short of his breathing as political, India might as well make the most of it.

The Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang, the town along the India-China border where the sixth Dalai Lama was born 334 years ago, has always had unnerving optics for Beijing. Quite apart from being a border town, it is also part of what China gratuitously calls South Tibet. Left to Beijing, Arunachal Pradesh being part of China is a no-contest claim. It is because India rejects that wholly and clearly regards Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Indian Union that it sees no controversy in the Dalai Lama visiting there.

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Of course, India’s foreign policy establishment is acutely aware of such visits’ potential for diplomatic provocation and approved of it not just irrespective of but precisely because of it. Although the Ministry of External Affairs insisted “no additional colour should be ascribed to the Dalai Lama’s religious and spiritual activities”, it knew well how it would be received in China. It was in a way aimed at riling Beijing by letting the Dalai Lama be the Dalai Lama. India-China relations have been going through a particularly rough patch, mainly because of a series of moves by Beijing in the past couple of years.

For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China has not been a particularly rewarding or uplifting experience despite the fact that early on in his tenure he effusively hosted President Xi Jinping in 2014 in Ahmedabad. The two sat on Gujarat’s famous lacquer-work swing on the banks of the Sabarmati river whose front Modi had developed as the state’s Chief Minister. In the intervening two-and-a-half years the Prime Minister finds the bilateral relationship not living up to its promise.

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From opposing India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to consistently thwarting New Delhi’s efforts to have the United Nations Security Council put Masood Azhar, the head of the Pakistani terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, on its blacklist, Beijing has been remarkably unhelpful. This is notwithstanding that early on Modi allowed Chinese investment into ports and telecom, something which was out of bounds earlier. Add to that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that China is building through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir much to India’s outrage, and an earlier incursion by its soldiers into Ladakh, and a pattern seems to form.

A case can be made that China has flattered to deceive in its dealings with the Modi government, while making some polite noises. Even as the Modi government has taken care to describe China’s latest fulminations over the Dalai Lama’s Tawang visit as “artificial controversies”, it has equally chosen to disregard its warnings of seriously damaging bilateral relations.

Although officially New Delhi would not acknowledge flaunting the Dalai Lama recognisably more than before, it could not be unaware of its consequences. It is Delhi’s way of letting Beijing know that the latter’s machinations on issues that deeply matter to India internationally have not only been lost on the government but may even be prompting a not-so-subtle counter.The crux of Dalai Lama’s visit was philosophical in terms of what he taught to thousands of Buddhists, but he did make it a point to say that the next Dalai Lama might also be a woman. On its part, of course, Beijing insists that the next Tibetan leader would be born in China. Its Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the next Dalai Lama will be chosen by drawing lots from a sacred urn in Lhasa. The Dalai Lama has dismissed the idea of Beijing choosing his incarnation as “nonsense”.

For New Delhi, the Dalai Lama remains significant leverage even though, at 81, time may not be on his side. (IANS)

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Dalai Lama says that India and China have great potential

The spiritual leader feels that both the countries are doing compassionate works

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Dalai Lama talks about India and China
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai says that India and China can work together. VOA

New Delhi, Nov 19

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday said India and China have “great potential” and they could work together at a “practical level”.

“I think, a great potential… India and China combined are doing more compassionate work… At a practical level also. Imagine two billion people working together,” he told reporters here after inaugurating Smile Foundation’s initiative, The World of Children.

The spiritual leader, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since 1959, said neither country had the “ability to destroy the other”.

“Whether you like it or not, you have to live side by side,” he said.

Underlining the ancient spiritual connection between the two countries, he said Chinese Buddhist Hsuan Tsang visited Nalanda (now in Bihar) and brought Nalanda Buddhist traditions to China.

“All thinkers of Nalanda are Indian. So Nalanda’s tradition is India’s tradition,” he said.

The Nalanda traditions had turned Tibetans, who were warriors, into more compassionate, peaceful and non-violent nation, he said.

“So sometimes in Delhi, teasing my Indian friend, (I say) if Tibet still remained in the previous way of life, like Mongols, Chinese invasion may not have taken place,” the Dalai Lama said in a lighter vein.

He said nobody in the world wanted violence but it was happening “because our minds are dominated by destructive emotions due to short-sightedness”.

“Nobody wants problems. Yet, many problems are our own creation.”

The Dalai Lama said the existing modern education was oriented to material values. India can take lead in improving the education system by combining modern education with ancient knowledge, he said. (IANS)

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Donald Trump Planning to meet Putin during his Asia tour

Donald Trump's first trip to Asia is the longest international tour.

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US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. wikimedia commns
  • US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during his Asia tour.

“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One before landing at the Yokota Air Base in Japan, Efe reported.

Putin is scheduled to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, which Trump will also attend as part of his long Asia tour.

The North Korean nuclear threat is expected to dominate Donald Trump’s meetings in Japan and the next two stages of his tour, South Korea and China, where he will have a highly anticipated sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The remainder of the tour will be more focused on economic issues, with Trump scheduled to take part in the APEC meeting in Da Nang and then in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines.

Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia is the longest international tour by a US head of state since the one then-President George H.W. Bush embarked on in 1992.

Bush became ill at the end of that trip, famously vomiting on the Japanese prime minister’s lap at a formal dinner before fainting.(IANS)

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‘Dalai Lama is a Political Figure under the cloak of Religion, Meeting or Hosting the Dalai Lama is a major offence’ Warns China

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing.

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Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama, Wikimedia

Beijing, October 21, 2017 : As US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to visit India next week, China on Saturday warned that it will be deeply offended if any foreign leader meets with or any country invites the Dalai Lama.

On the sidelines of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a Chinese Minister dubbed the Tibetan spiritual leader as a “political figure under the cloak of religion”.

“Any country or any organisation or anyone accepting to meet with the Dalai Lama in our view is a major offence to the sentiment of the Chinese people,” said Zhang Yijiong, Executive Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

“Also, since they have committed to recognising China as a sole legitimate government representing China, it contravenes their attempt, because it is a serious commitment,” Zhang added.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of stoking unrest and secessionist activities in Tibet from where the spiritual leader fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising.

The Dalai Lama has urged for more autonomy for Tibet.

Beijing opposes any country or leader keeping in touch with the Dalai Lama.

“I want to make it clear that the 14th Dalai Lama, the living Buddha handed down by history is a political figure under the cloak of religion,” said Zhang.

In February this year, Tillerson had told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing that he is committed to promoting dialogue on Tibet and receiving the Dalai Lama.

Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi had visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in May, and sought to draw the world’s attention to human rights in Tibet, triggering protests by China.

China resorts to different tactics if any country hosts the Dalai Lama. For instance, Beijing blocked a major highway leading to Mongolia, crippling the economy there after Ulan Bator hosted the leader late last year.

Mongolia later apologised and promised Beijing never to invite the Dalai Lama.

“Officials, in their capacity as officials, attending all foreign-related activities represent their governments. So I hope governments around the world speak and act with caution and give full consideration to their friendship with China and their respect for China’s sovereignty,” Zhang added.

The comments from the Chinese Minister also comes days after Tillersoon described India as a partner in a strategic relationship and said the US would “never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society”.

According to reports, last month China refused to fund travel for visiting scholars at University of California, San Diego, apparently in retaliation for inviting the Dalai Lama to be its 2017 commencement speaker.

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing. (IANS)