“What can China really do?” That was the question posed by a former diplomat and China expert when asked about the repeated threats and admonishments from Beijing over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, particularly Tawang.
Over the past week, Beijing has issued at least four official statements condemning New Delhi for allowing the 81-year-old Tibetan leader to visit the state, which China considers a part of “South Tibet” and hence Chinese territory. New Delhi brushed off these protests, and the Dalai Lama reached Bomdila in West Kameng district on Tuesday, beginning his nine-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh. On Wednesday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson told reporters that the visit “severely hurts China’s interests and the China-India relationship…and also fuels the border dispute…(which) will do no good to the Indian side.”
“They do use colourful language,” laughs Ashok Kantha, who served as India’s ambassador to Beijing from 2013 to 2016. “This is not the Dalai Lama’s first visit to Tawang. The Chinese are aware of that. What they are doing doesn’t make sense. Both sides have agreed that they will deal with differences in a certain fashion. From 1993, when we had the border peace and tranquility agreement, we have taken the position that pending a settlement, we will respect and work on the basis of the line of actual control. Now there’s no ambiguity as for the LAC (Line of Actual Control) in Arunachal.
“They can question the status of the state, but the fact remains that Arunachal, including Tawang, is on our side of the actual LAC. Likewise, we question the status of Aksai Chin, but we don’t question the Chinese activities there, on the basis of the LAC again. That is a pragmatic way of dealing with this issue. Otherwise we’ll be adding to the problem. I don’t see why China should get upset over this or our other activities there. They’ve been constructing on their side of the LAC, yet they object when we build roads or railways on our side,” Kantha told Express