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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dalai Lama's Tawang Visit Irks China

November 11, 2009

Associated Press (AP)
November 9, 2009

TAWANG, India -- Joyous Buddhist pilgrims
welcomed the Dalai Lama back to the Himalayan
town he first set foot in five decades ago while
fleeing Chinese rule in his native Tibet, a rare
trip close to his homeland that has angered Beijing.

The Dalai Lama's arrival here Sunday for a
five-day trip highlighted a lingering border
dispute between India and China, exposed
Beijing's ongoing sensitivities over Tibet and
raised questions over who would succeed him as the region's spiritual leader.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said
last week that the trip "once again exposes the
nature of the Dalai Lama as anti-China."

The Dalai Lama, however, insisted the accusation
was "baseless" and that he was only seeking to
promote religious values, peace and harmony.

"My visit here is nonpolitical," he said soon after his arrival Sunday morning.

In Tawang, the streets were lined with prayer
flags and banners welcoming the Dalai Lama and
thousands braved the cold temperatures and biting
wind to attend his five-day visit of prayer meetings and lectures on Buddhism.

"It made us very happy to catch a glimpse of him.
Nobody is more important to us than him. The
Dalai Lama is our god," said Ms. Karmayacha, who
uses one name and traveled with her family from a
village 20 miles (32 kilometers) away.

Monks clanged cymbals and sounded traditional
Tibetan horns to greet the Dalai Lama as he
arrived at the Tawang monastery, filled with
fresh orange, white and red flowers, from a nearby helipad.

The Dalai Lama smiled and chatted with the
gathered crowds. One monk shaded him with a giant
yellow silk umbrella, while scores of others
bowed before him as he walked into a hall to lead a prayer session.

The spiritual leader first came to Tawang, which
has close religious and political ties to Tibet,
in 1959, when he fled communist rule. He has
since made five visits to the town, the last in 2003.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking Tibetan
independence and is especially sensitive to
protests against its control over the Himalayan
region following deadly anti-government riots there last year.

It regularly protests the movements of the Dalai
Lama, but it is particularly sensitive to this
trip, which highlights two issues of special
concern to Beijing, Tibetan independence and its disputed border with India.

Tawang is home to the Monpa tribe, who have
strong ties to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The
sixth Dalai Lama came from the region in the 17th
century and China fears that if the next one is
found here as well, he will be beyond Beijing's grip.

The visit also highlights worsening tensions
between India and China, which have been
embroiled in a border dispute over this
northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh since
1962. The two Asian neighbors are vying for
economic and political power in the region.
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