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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Dalai Lama in India-China border row

November 9, 2009

THE GUARDIAN AND AP, BEIJING, NEW DEHLI AND TAWANG, INDIA
Taipei Times
November 8, 2009, Page 5

The Indian government denied permits for foreign
journalists to cover the Dalai Lama’s imminent
visit to a northeast Indian state that China
claims as its own after weeks of verbal jousting between the two countries.

Four passes to Arunachal Pradesh, previously
given to foreign reporters, have been revoked.
All other news organizations that applied for permits have been turned down.

"We are incredibly surprised and disappointed to
learn that reporters’ visas to Arunachal Pradesh
have been canceled ahead of the Dalai Lama’s
visit," said Heather Timmons, president of the
Delhi-based Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

Indian journalists will be allowed to travel, but
some Tibetans raised concerns that Delhi was
kowtowing to China over the Dalai Lama. Tsewang
Rigzin, of the Tibetan Youth Congress, said it
was "disappointing that in a democracy as big as
India’s foreign reporters cannot follow His Holiness on this trip."

The Himalayan neighbors have a prickly
relationship, with both seeking a bigger role on
the world stage. Media reports of alleged
incursions by Chinese soldiers have caused uproar
in recent weeks. The chief of India’s army staff,
General Deepak Kapoor, has appealed to the media
not to overplay the issue. Last month the
government announced it would launch a legal case
against two Indian reporters after a report
appeared claiming two Indian border police were
injured after being fired at from the Tibetan-Chinese side.

Despite the claims of misreporting, there is no
doubt India and China have sparred in recent
weeks over a number of sensitive issues around
Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing calls Southern
Tibet or Outer Tibet. Relations reached a new low
last month when Beijing described the Indian
prime minister’s visit to the state before
elections as "provocative and dangerous."

Arunachal Pradesh has been slowly integrated into
the Indian state since Delhi sent troops in 1950
carrying papers signed by the Tibetan government
in Lhasa, which transferred 91,000 km² of the
Himalayas to India. Beijing rejects Delhi’s
claim, pointing out that no official from China signed the treaty.

Last week the Dalai Lama said China was
"over-politicizing" his travels and said his
decisions on where to go were spiritual in nature, not political.

Fu Xiaoqiang (???), an expert on south Asia at
the Chinese Institute of Contemporary
International Relations, said: "The visit will
make Sino-Indian relations more complicated and
increase the difficulties of solving the border
problem ... [which] must be solved before they
can further develop their relationship."

The neighbors have not agreed on the border. The
4,000 km demarcation is known as the Line of
Actual Control and is a source of continuing tension.

One remote town in the Himalayan foothills
spruced up its monasteries to prepare for the Dalai Lama’s arrival today.

Residents in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang prepared
excitedly on Friday for the Dalai Lama’s arrival
-- his first visit since 2003. Buddhist monks
hung flags and banners with the Dalai Lama’s
image, and decorative arches were erected across
the town. A tent camp was set up for an expected
influx of pilgrims to the town.

"This is a religious event for us. It is
specially auspicious to have the Dalai Lama in
our midst," said Tulku Rinpoche, the head of the sprawling Tawang monastery.

But the visit to Tawang is especially galling to China.

The town is heavily linked to nearby Tibet and
has one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist
monasteries in the world. China briefly occupied
Tawang during the 1962 war before pulling back to the informal border.

The sixth Dalai Lama was born in Tawang in the
17th century and China fears the current Dalai
Lama might announce that his successor could come
from this town or somewhere else outside Tibet --
meaning outside of Chinese control. China expects
to exercise a strong hand in choosing the next
Dalai Lama and is increasingly sensitive about
the region since deadly anti-government riots
broke out in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa last year.
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