The Dalai Lama, China and India

The reported protest by the Chinese Government to the Indian Government about the recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in one sense an expected reaction from the Chinese side. After all, isn’t it that the Chinese tend to react negatively to any movement on Tibet by any governments in this world.

On the other hand, I see this Chinese reaction as a part of the overall strategy to isolate the Tibetan issue. The Chinese side knows that meetings between Indian leaders and His Holiness have been a regular feature in  the post 1959 period. Yet, by somehow protesting they want to send the message that no one but them can have anything to do with the Tibetan issue.

When asked about the Chinese protest during a press interaction with the visiting Japanese Foreign Minister, Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna had a nuanced response (which I am excerpting in full below).

India has a historical connection to Tibet and the Dalai Lama is not just an honored guest but is also someone who is seen as a spiritual leader to quite many citizens of India who follow Tibetan Buddhism. This aspect of His Holiness’ personality is something that the Chinese Government needs to understand.

Joint Press Interaction of EAM and FM of Japan

21/08/2010
Official Spokesperson (Shri Vishnu Prakash): Welcome to the press interaction. First, the External Affairs Minister of India Mr. S.M. Krishna will make an opening statement. Next, the Foreign Minister of Japan His Excellency Katsuya Okada would be making a statement.

Official Spokesperson: Excellency, thank you very much.

The two Ministers would be very happy to take two questions from each side. You may like to address your question to either of the Ministers but please indicate whether the question is for the External Affairs Minister or for the Foreign Minister. Also, please introduce yourself and your organization. You are requested to kindly restrict your questions to India-Japan relations. The first question goes to the Japanese side. 

Question (Indian Media): My question is addressed to Indian Foreign Minister. Sir, how do you plan to first of all address Japan’s concern on the testing of a nuclear device? If I may drift from this, China has also expressed concern over the meeting of Dalai Lama with the Prime Minister. Can you just clarify on both?

External Affairs Minister of India: The very fact that Japan has commenced negotiations with India in order to work out a bilateral agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the first round of negotiations were held in Tokyo, and we will continue a follow-up on that as quickly as possible. And as I mentioned in my opening statement, there is no timeline for the conclusion of any such agreement.

With reference to the visit of Dalai Lama, the Indian position has been stated and repeatedly. And it is unequivocal and it is categorical. I have mentioned this to my esteemed friend the Chinese Foreign Minister that Dalai Lama is an honoured guest in India, and he is a spiritual leader, and he has been held as such by millions of Indians, and we do not encourage anyone to get into political or other activities which will concern the relationship between two countries. It has also been made abundantly clear that Tibetan Autonomous Region is a part of the People’s Republic of China. I think that should bring down the curtain on any controversy on this question.

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