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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 to Visit Indian Region Claimed by China

October 23, 2009

The New York Times
October 23, 2009

BEIJING -- Despite protests by the Chinese government, the Dalai Lama
is going ahead with plans to visit a heavily militarized Tibetan
Buddhist area in northeast India that is the focus of an intense
territorial dispute between China and India, a Tibetan official in
India said Thursday.

The Dalai Lama, 74, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, is expected
to visit the state of Arunachal Pradesh from Nov. 8 to Nov. 15, the
official, who asked to remain anonymous, said in an e-mail message.
China considers the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in the Indian hill
town of Dharamsala, to be a separatist who advocates Tibetan
independence. The Dalai Lama insists he wants only true autonomy for
Tibet, which the Chinese Army invaded in 1951.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Ma Zhaoxu,
said China "firmly opposed" the Dalai Lama's visit to the region,
according to Xinhua, the state news agency. "We believe that this
further exposes the Dalai Lama clique's anti-China and separatist
nature," Mr. Ma said.

Tenzin Taklha, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama, said in an e-mail last
month that the Dalai Lama would visit the region because he had
received "a number of invitations" since he last visited in 2003.
"There is a large Buddhist population that is keen to have his
holiness give teachings," the spokesman said.

The Dalai Lama was scheduled to visit Arunachal Pradesh last year but
canceled his trip. Some people in the area say he was denied
permission by the Indian government, possibly due to pressure from
China. Tenzin Taklha said the Dalai Lama postponed his visit so as
not to disrupt elections taking place in India around that time.

The status of Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most intractable
diplomatic issue between China and India. The dispute centers on the
mountainous, mist-cloaked region of Tawang, a thickly forested area
bordering Bhutan and Chinese-ruled Tibet that is dominated by the
ethnic Monpa people, who practice Tibetan Buddhism and speak a
language very similar to Tibetan.

The Chinese government says Tawang was once part of Tibet, and so
belongs to China. The Indian government says a self-governing Tibet
signed a treaty with British-ruled India in 1914 that ceded Tawang to
India on the condition that London recognize Tibetan autonomy.

The British agreed at the time to acknowledge what they called the
suzerainty of Tibet. But last year, the British foreign secretary,
David Miliband, retracted that recognition, saying it was a holdover
from a colonial era.

Perhaps inevitably, the Dalai Lama has taken sides in the China-India
dispute. Last year, he announced for the first time that Arunachal
Pradesh belonged to India. Tenzin Taklha said the Tibetan government
recognizes the borders designated by the 1914 treaty, called the
Simla Convention.

China has been increasingly vocal this year over its claims to Tawang
and possibly other parts of Arunachal Pradesh. On Oct. 13, Mr. Ma,
the Foreign Ministry spokesman, denounced a visit to the state in
early October by Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister. In the
spring, China tried unsuccessfully to block a $2.9 billion loan that
India had requested from the Asian Development Bank, based in Manila;
$60 million of the loan was slated for flood control projects in
Arunachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, India has been adding troops and fighter jets to the
region. Indian military leaders have feared an invasion there by
China ever since China and India fought a border war over Himalayan
territories in 1962. The Chinese Army occupied Tawang then and only
retreated after securing the Aksai Chin region north of the western
Himalayas, which India claims.

The Dalai Lama has deep interests in Arunachal Pradesh. India's most
important Tibetan Buddhist monastery is in Tawang, and the Dalai Lama
appoints the abbot there. The 6th Dalai Lama, an ethnic Monpa, came
from the area. The current Dalai Lama prayed at the Tawang monastery
as he passed into exile in India in 1959, fleeing the Chinese
suppression of an uprising in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

The Dalai Lama visited Taiwan, the self-governing island that China
claims as its territory, on Aug. 31 after being invited there by
Taiwanese politicians opposed to reunification with China. Ma
Ying-jeou, the Taiwanese president who has pushed for closer ties
with Beijing, reluctantly allowed the Dalai Lama to visit. The Dalai
Lama visited Washington this month, but President Obama declined to
meet with him in advance of his own planned trip to Beijing in November.
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