NEW DELHI: India on Friday dismissed China’s objection to President Pranab Mukherjee’s meeting with “revered spiritual leader” Dalai Lama earlier this week. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) contended that the event was “non-political”.
President Mukherjee had met the Dalai Lama at the Rashtrapati Bhawan during a children’s summit organised by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation on December 10 and this did not go down well with China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Geng Shuang said in a media briefing in Beijing: “Recently in disregard of China’s solemn representation and strong opposition, the Indian side insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to the Indian Presidential palace where he took part in an event and met President Mukherjee.”
“The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to that.The Dalai Lama is in political exile and is long been engaged anti-China separatist activities with the attempt of separating Tibet away from China under the cloak of religion,” Geng added.
China has been quick to issue a riposte to Dalai Lama coming in contact with any government officials. However, as China has refused to budge from its position on India’s entry to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and putting of Masood Azhar in proscribed list global terrorists at the United Nations, New Delhi has been assertive in exploiting the presence of the Dalai Lama in the country to needle China.
The MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup dismissed China’s objection summarily. “You are aware of India’s consistent position. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a respected and revered spiritual leader. It was non-political event organised by Nobel laureates dedicated to the welfare of children.”
With the meeting in the backdrop, Beijing has warned India of the developments adversely affecting China-India relation. “We urge the Indian side to see through the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai Lama clique, fully respect China’s core interests and major concerns, take effective means to remove the negative impact caused by the incident to avoid any disturbance to China-India relationship,” Geng said.
Much to China’s chagrin, India has extended an official invitation to the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang – the town on Indo-China border that has been the bone of contention between the two countries – next year. The Tibetan Spiritual Leader was given shelter in India after he fled China in 1959.