Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The burden of being the Dalai Lama

Today, front page headlines in China and India report on the possible impact of Dalai Lama on the relations between the two countries. Can one man really cast such a large shadow on two of the world's largest countries, and oldest civilisations? China is opposed to Dalai Lama visiting the north eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, accuses him for trying to damage relations between the two countries, and yet affirms that relations will not be affected. Here is a sample from Chinese and India media. What is amazing is the fallout even in Dhaka! Reuters news agency is focusing on the tension between China and India this month, and list this among the five political risks to watch in India.

Hindustan Times: Reshma Patil writing from Beijing reports, "Dalai Lama damaging ties with India: China", on Nov 3, 2009.
While tensions between India and China spill over with visa controversies on both sides, Beijing has now blamed the Dalai Lama for trying to damage ties.
On Tuesday, Beijing labelled the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh a ‘separatist’ anti-China action. “The Dalai Lama often tells lies... he’s a national separatist. This attempt to damage relations between China and the relevant countries will not succeed,’’ said foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu at a media briefing.
Indian Express: "China attacks Dalai Lama for hurting Sino-India ties", 4 Nov 2009
China on Tuesday accused the Dalai Lama of seeking to undermine Beijing's relationship with Delhi through a visit to a disputed border region, insulating India's government from direct Chinese wrath over the dispute. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has riled Beijing by arranging a trip week to Arunachal Pradesh, parts of which China claims as its own. The Chinese government has condemned the trip several times and asked Delhi to stop it going ahead.
Daily News & Analysis: Seema Guha reports, "China attacks Dalai Lama but spares India", on 4 Nov 2009.
China's opposition to the Dalai Lama was expected. What was not was the fact that at Tuesday's regular news conference in Beijing, while foreign office spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu lashed out at the Tibetan spiritual leader, he did not include India in his criticism.
CCTV: Provides a video footage of the spokesman of Chinese foreign ministry, with the headline, "Dalai Lama's scheme of damaging Sino-India ties "come to nothing": Spokesman" on Nov 4, 2009.
Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the Chinese government is deeply concerned by the Dalai Lama's planned visit to a border region between India and China.
Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu repeated an earlier condemnation of the Dalai Lama for separatist activities.
Ma said the scheme to harm China's relations with India would come to nothing.
Xinhua: The Chinese news agency reports, "China voices firm opposition to Dalai Lama's visit to China-India border region" on Nov 3, 2009
China firmly opposes the Dalai Lama's planned visit to a China-India border region, said a Foreign Ministry spokesman here Tuesday.
"China's stance on the eastern section of the China-India border is consistent, and we firmly oppose the Dalai Lama's visit to the region," said Ma Zhaoxu at a regular news briefing.
"This further exposes the Dalai clique's anti-China and separatist nature," said Ma.
Ma said the Dalai Lama keeps lying and being engaged in damaging relations between China and other countries, but his attempt "will not succeed."
Zee News: Earlier the tv channel had quoted the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh as saying "Dalai Lama will be our state guest", on Oct 28, 2009.
Notwithstanding Chinese objection to the Dalai Lama's proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu on Wednesday said the Tibetan spiritual leader will be accorded the honour of 'state guest' during his week-long tour beginning November 7.
Frontline: The cover story of this fortnightly news magazine, dated Nov 7, 2009, is on China. Sushanta Talukdar writes in "China Factor",
The elections in Arunachal Pradesh, which would have otherwise gone unnoticed owing to the small size of its voter population and of the State Assembly, got global attention because of the war of words and the subsequent diplomatic engagement between India and China over the latter’s claim to the border State. The dispute overshadowed the election campaign as well.
The New Nation: Headlines "Police stop photo exhibition on Dalai Lama in Dhaka", on Nov 2, 2009.
Drik Gallery from yesterday focusing on Dalai Lama, which was to have ended on November 7. Police stopped the exhibition as it was being held "without permission of the concerned authority of the government." Police described it as a "sensitive issue."
However, Tanvir Murad Tapu, one of the organisers, said such exhibitions had been being organised for the last 25 years without any interruption. The images portrayed the journey of Tibetans from their homeland to exile, said organisers.
After police locked the gate of the Drik Gallery Prof Muzaffar Ahmed of Transparency International Bangladesh, who was to have inaugurate the function, said such exhibitions could be shown even in China, but the government in their enthusiasm to please a powerful government injured censorship in their own country, a press release said.
Reuters: "Relations with China among Five political risks to watch in India", the news agency notes on 3 Nov 2009. Tensions between India and China are in focus this month at Reuters, with the Dalai Lama visiting the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, and another round of talks on a disputed border area set to begin. Under the head of external security, Reuter notes the India's relations with Pakistan and China, and says,
Ties between India and China have soured with the resurgence of a long-festering border dispute over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Reports of border incursions sparked unease. India also balks at Beijing's support for projects in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and a separate visa policy for Indian Kashmiris, which New Delhi sees as undermining its claim over the region. There is little chance of war between the two countries but further disputes could sour their booming trade relationship.

Key issue to watch:
-- The Dalai Lama's planned trip to Arunachal Pradesh on Nov. 8 has already raised hackles. Beijing strongly opposed the visit, which it says is part of the exiled Tibetan monk's separatist scheming. India has dug in its heels, calling the Dalai Lama an "honoured guest" whose visit has no political motive.
-- The next round of talks over the disputed border with China in mid-November. Years of dialogue on the future of Arunachal Pradesh have made scant progress, but the talks open a window for both sides to diffuse tensions.

1 comment:

  1. Dalai Lama is saddened by the Chinese accusations. Press Trust of India quotes the Dalai Lama, who is on a visit to Japan, saying, "I was surprised at China's criticism. If my visit creates problem, I am very sad, that's all".
    DNA newspaper reports "China accuses Dalai of attempting to damage Sino-India ties" on Nov 3, 2009 (http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_china-accuses-dalai-of-attempting-to-damage-sino-india-ties_1306783)