Beijing uneasy as Rao meets Dalai Lama

Feb 16, 2009
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NEW DELHI: China hoped that India would abide by its commitment on Tibet-related issues in the wake of foreign secretary Nirupama Rao's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama.

"China has expressed its position clearly to the Indian side over this (Tibet) issue," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quoted as saying in response to the meeting between the top official and the Dalai Lama. Ms Rao had met the Dalai Lama at Dharamshala on July 10 just a week after National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon visited China and held discussions with the Chinese leadership.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson further hoped that India would ``properly handle'' Tibet related issues and not allow anti China political activities. "The Indian government has expressed on many occasions to China that it recognises Tibet Autonomous Region as part of the PRC (People's Republic of China) and it would not allow exiled Tibetans in India to conduct anti-China political activities. So we hope India could abide by its commitments on Tibet-related issues and properly handle all the issues," he said. Beijing mild response is not surprising considering Indian officials have continued to regularly meet the Dalai Lama. It also comes in the backdrop of improved atmospherics between the two countries. Anyway, India follows a one China policy and recognises Tibet as a part of China. Ms Rao during her meeting with the Dalai Lama reportedly focused on the issues related to Tibetans living in India.

China, however, has strongly opposed foreign dignitaries meeting the Dalai Lama. US President Barack Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama in Washington had elicited a strong response from Beijing which had accused Washington of interfering in China's internal matter. Beijing always reacts adversely to the Dalai Lama travelling to other countries and meeting foreign dignitaries.

Though Chinese officials have been holding talks with the Dalai Lama, there is little evidence of forward movement in the talks. The Dalai Lama acknowledged that Tibet is a part of China but wants more autonomy for Tibet. China, however, is not in favour of granting greater autonomy to Tibet.

In fact Ms Rao's meeting with the Dalai Lama was preceded by the visit of National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon who held discussions with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and foreign minister Yang Jiechi and looked at ways of insulating the bilateral relationship from being disrupted by a single issue.

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