BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Wednesday denounced in the strongest terms yet a visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to a disputed stretch on the China-India border, saying he had provoked China by supporting India’s claim to the region.
The Dalai Lama’s week-long trip to Arunachal Pradesh state, an eastern Himalayan region administered by India but claimed by China as “southern Tibet”, has infuriated China, where the Nobel Peace laureate is considered a dangerous separatist.
Indian officials have dismissed China’s criticism of the Dalai Lama’s second visit to Arunachal Pradesh in eight years, saying he is a spiritual leader who has a devoted following in the region.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said India had “indulged the 14th Dalai Lama and certain India officials to express political theories that provoke China”.
“The 14th Dalai Lama has long ago gone past the scope of a religious visit as claimed by India,” Lu said, speaking during a regular briefing in Beijing.
Chinese troops marched into Tibet and took control in 1950 in what Beijing calls a “peaceful liberation”. Troops crushed an uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled into exile in India.
In remarks bound to anger China, the Indian chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu, told Reuters on April 5 that he regarded the land on the other side of the border as Tibet, not China.
“As far as the boundary issue is concerned, I have also maintained that we don’t share our boundary with China, but we share our boundary with Tibet,” Khandu said.
Lu said the Dalai Lama supported that stand.
“The Dalai clique already fully stands with the position of foreigners. His display cannot in the slightest impact China’s position on the border and Tibet,” Lu said.
“China has already made stern representations to India, and will take further measures to protect China’s territorial sovereignty and national security,” he added, without elaborating.
The Dalai Lama denies espousing violence and says he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet.
The monk said on Saturday the institution of the Dalai Lama, the top reincarnated leader of the Tibetan Buddhist faith, should continue after his death. He was speak during his stay in the remote hill town of Tawang, near the border.
Reporting by Christian Shepherd