Global Times special correspondent in India: Yuan Zhen, Guo Fang
“India allows Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh (ie, Southern Tibet of China)”, on October 27, the Government of India issued a statement confirming this news. Many Indian media have reported that this decision would irk China.
India Today website reported on 27th that the government’s statement said, “there is no bar on Dalai Lama visiting any place in India, hence Arunachal visit in March next year is not a problem.” On the evening of 27th, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup stressed that the Dalai Lama was “a guest of India and is free to travel to any part of the country. There is nothing unusual about this visit.”
According to Indian media reports, Dalai Lama is expected to embark on this journey in the second week of March in 2017 on the invitation of “Arunachal Pradesh” Chief Minister Pema Khandu. At that time, he may deliver a speech at a religious gathering in Tawang region and visit other parts of Southern Tibet. The Indian Express reported on October 27 that presently India and China are having differences on the issues of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and anti-terrorism stance between the two countries; this decision by the Indian government will not only displease China, but also may lead to a fresh round of confrontation along the Indo-China border. “In the past, each time India and China disagree on an issue on the international stage, there has been heavy militarisation on the Chinese side of the border.”
On October 21, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma announced his visit to the Tawang region on the China-India border. This was the first visit by the US ambassador to Tawang. In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on October 24 that China was firmly opposed to the activities of the senior U.S diplomat in the disputed areas between China and India. However, the Indian Foreign Ministry immediately refuted the Chinese accusations, saying there was “actually nothing inappropriate” about the US ambassador’s visit to “Arunachal Pradesh”. Some media analysis says that the Indian government is using diplomatic means to strengthen the sovereignty claims on the disputed area.
In November 2009, the Dalai Lama had visited the Tawang region, causing strong opposition from China. Some analysts told the Global Times on 27th that India’s economy is showing a poor performance in recent times, and several Indian states will go to polls soon; so at this time BJP, the party to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs, demonstrating a tough stance to China would increase its support. Besides, there will be a series of high-level visits between China and India in November, and setting up preconditions before the negotiations has been India’s usual trick.