India on Thursday rejected China’s criticism over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday greetings to the Dalai Lama.
New Delhi: Besides border disputes, India and China have had major differences over the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader who was granted refuge in India by the Jawaharlal Nehru government in 1959.
The Dalai Lama has always been a bone of contention between India and China, where India’s claims are valid but China, often known for its muscle flexing, has not accepted this claim.
This dispute began with China’s invasion of Tibet in 1950 under Mao Zedong’s regime. Evading this invasion, the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 seeking refuge. India graciously accepted the Dalai Lama, which irked China.
The Chinese government officials and the Dalai Lama or his representatives have not met in formal negotiations since 2010.
Beijing has in the past accused the Dalai Lama of indulging in “separatist” activities and trying to split Tibet and considers him as a divisive figure.
However, the Tibetan spiritual leader has insisted that he is not seeking independence but “genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet” under the “Middle-Way approach”.
This then became an unsettling disagreement between both the nations. China has time and again meddled in the affairs of neighbouring nations, and is on a streak to devour the world through economic subjugation and neo–colonialism.
India on Thursday rejected China’s criticism over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday greetings to the Dalai Lama, asserting that it is a consistent policy of the government to treat the Tibetan spiritual leader as an honoured guest.
The External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the birthday greetings by the prime minister to the Dalai Lama should be seen in this overall context.
To quote Arindam Bagchi, “It is a consistent policy of the government of India to treat His Holiness, Dalai Lama as an honoured guest in India and as a respected religious leader who enjoys a large following in India.”
He further stated that His Holiness is accorded all due courtesies and freedom to conduct his religious and spiritual activities in India and that the Dalai Lama’s birthday is celebrated by many of his followers in India and abroad.
“The birthday greetings by the prime minister to His Holiness on his 87th birthday should be seen in this overall context,” he said, noting that Modi greeted him last year as well.
The Chinese reaction came on a day External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held bilateral talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bali on the sidelines of a conclave of G20 foreign ministers’ meeting. It is not known whether the issue figured in the talks.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing that “the Indian side should fully recognise the anti-China separatist nature of the 14th Dalai Lama”.
It should abide by its “commitment to China, speak and act prudently and stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs”, Zhao said.
India celebrates His Holiness’ Birthday:
Modi greeted the Dalai Lama over the phone as he turned 87 on Wednesday. “Conveyed 87th birthday greetings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama over the phone earlier today. We pray for his long life and good health,” Modi tweeted on Wednesday.
Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakashi Lekhi and Minister of State for Law S P Singh Baghel attended an event organised by the Bureau of Dalai Lama in Delhi to celebrate his birthday on Wednesday.
In her brief address at the event, Lekhi said the Dalai Lama is someone who talks about India as a great civilisational force and that he adopted the country as his mother.
Several Union ministers, including Kiren Rijiju and Nitin Gadkari, and lawmakers also greeted the Dalai Lama.