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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama's visit in India angers China

November 13, 2009

By Aileen McCabe, Canwest News Service
The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
November 11, 2009

A young Buddhist monk holds a pair of sunglasses
during a teaching session by spiritual leader,
the Dalai Lama, in Tawang, on Tuesday.

China lashed out Tuesday at India's decision to
allow the Dalai Lama to visit the disputed region
of Arunachal Pradesh that borders on Tibet.

"The Indian side allowed the Dalai Lama to visit
the disputed eastern section of the China-India
border regardless of China's grave concerns and
China is strongly dissatisfied with this,"
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.

He charged the Dalai Lama's presence in the area
showed clearly the 74-year-old holy man's "separatist nature."

"His attempt (to separate Tibet from China) will not succeed," Qin said.

The Dalai Lama is halfway through a week-long
teaching and praying visit to Tawang, home of one
of the most important Tibetan Buddhist
monasteries, but also the city at the heart of
the border dispute that has coloured Sino-Indian
relations for more than half a century.

The Dalai Lama took refuge in the 300-year-old
Tawang monastery when he fled Tibet 50 years ago
and he has returned to visit it several times over the years.

He is greatly revered by many who live in and around the remote frontier town.

On Monday, for instance, tens of thousands came to hear him preach.

China considers Tawang part of Tibet and,
therefore, part of China. Having the Dalai Lama,
who is routinely accused of promoting
independence for Tibet, visit the area deeply rankles Beijing.

China protests almost every foreign visit the
Nobel laureate monk makes, but like his trip to
Taiwan last summer, its opposition to the Tawang
visit is particularly vehement since in both
cases he is on territory China claims as its own.

China actually "punished" the Taiwanese town that
hosted the Tibetan spiritual leader last August
by steering mainland tourists away from visiting
it and causing a noticeable slump in the local economy.

Although he is denounced by China as a
"splittist," the Dalai Lama dismisses the claims
and said this week when he arrived in the
mountain town: "My visit to Tawang is
non-political and aimed at promoting universal brotherhood and nothing else."

The disputed visit has caused no end of
nationalistic comment in both China and India,
with the rhetoric reaching such a pitch in both
countries that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao,
were forced to address the issue on the sidelines
of the ASEAN meeting in Thailand recently.

But their moderate words did little to calm the
furor and Indian Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee had to try once again at last weekend's
G-20 meeting in Scotland, telling reporters: "I
do not visualize any conflict on border dispute
between India and China. We have an institutional
arrangement, though there are divergences of views."

For its part, India has stood firmly by its claim
to the Arunachal Pradesh area and its decision to
allow they Dalai Lama to visit Tawang.

It did, however, make a modest concession to its
neighbour and rival and barred foreign
journalists from covering the sensitive trip.

At the best of times, the Sino-Indian border
dispute is not high on the agenda of the two
Asian giants, but since the riots in Lhasa in
March 2008, everything involving Tibet is treated seriously by China.
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