The Government of India has cleared the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh in March next year, in a move that would trigger a diplomatic conflict with neighbour China.
The invitation to the Dalai Lama was extended on October 9 and the visit is aimed to offer an opportunity for his followers to meet their spiritual leader, The Hindu reported citing a source in the office of Chief Minister Pema Khandu.
An official was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The Dalai Lama has been invited to Arunachal Pradesh for a fortnight-long visit during March 2017, when he is expected to visit Tawang, Itanagar and the eastern districts of the state.” The official stated that Lama has given verbal confirmation that he would visit the Arunachal next year.
The decision to clear Dalai Lama’s visit comes after China opposed the visit of US ambassador Richard Verma to Arunachal Pradesh recently.
Criticising the state’s decision to host thr US envoy, China said the interference of the US in ‘a disputed area’ would further complicate the conflict between both the countries.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang reportedly said it would damage the hard-earned peace and tranquillity of the China-India border region.
“Any responsible third party should respect efforts by China and India to seek peaceful and stable reconciliation and not the opposite,” Lu said, adding that “China’s position on eastern section is clear and consistent,” Lu Kang added.
Beijing claims more than 90,000 sq km of territory that shares with Arunachal belong to China, while India rejects it saying much of this disputed territory belongs to the Indian state.
In 2009, the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang festival had drawn criticism from Beijing.