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The trust deficit widens

India and China seem headed for another spat over the proposed April 4-13 visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, with Beijing warning that the Tibetan leader’s trip would cause ‘serious damage’ to India-China ties, already suffering from a major trust deficit.

Published: 07th March 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2017 11:13 PM   |  A+A-

India and China seem headed for another spat over the proposed April 4-13 visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, with Beijing warning that the Tibetan leader’s trip would cause ‘serious damage’ to India-China ties, already suffering from a major trust deficit.

China claims most of Arunachal as part of what it calls South Tibet, and religiously protests whenever Indian or even foreign officials visit the region. A visit by the Dalai Lama, viewed as a separatist, is thus even more offensive to Beijing.


There were loud protests from Beijing when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh  visited Arunachal in October 2009, followed by the Dalai Lama in November that year. At that time, speaking from Tawang, a tiny district at the core of the border row between India and China, the Dalai Lama insisted his visit was ‘non-political’.

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet following the Chinese ‘liberation’ of Lhasa in 1959, was given sanctuary in India. Following protests from Beijing, India clarified  the Tibetan leader would not be allowed to conduct any political activity on Indian soil, and assured Beijing that it subscribed to the ‘One China’ policy, which meant that it recognised Tibet and Taiwan as an inalienable part of China.


However, after Narendra Modi was elected Prime Minister, India has taken a slightly more assertive position on the issue, leading to dire warnings from Beijing.

It began during Modi’s swearing on May 26, 2014, when a representative from the Tibetan government in exile and the head of Taiwan’s trade mission were among the guests.

Then, following China’s repeated vetoing of India’s bid to join the NSG, and to declare Masood Azhar a terrorist, India invited a delegation from Taiwan, and President Pranab Mukherjee met the Dalai Lama. And when an angry Beijing reminded India about the ‘One China’ policy, New Delhi started asking if China too had a ‘One India’ policy. That is a question that Beijing needs to ponder before things escalate further.
 

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