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China warns India against giving ‘platform’ to Dalai Lama


Beijing/New Delhi: China Monday said it is opposed to any country providing “a platform” to the Dalai Lama for his “anti-China activities” even as the Tibetan leader’s envoy in New Delhi said India was right in letting him speak at an ongoing Buddhist conference.

The four-day Global Buddhist Conference being held in New Delhi entered the second day, with scholars debating the finer points of Buddhist philosophy and discussing their ideas of right living.

China, however, made it point abundantly clear.

“The Dalai Lama is not a purely religious figure but one who has been engaged in separatist activities for a long time, under the pretext of religion,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said.

“We oppose any country that provides a platform for his anti-China activities in any form,” he said in Beijing, in an allusion to the meet where the Dalai Lama will deliver the valedictory lecture Nov 30.

Hong’s comments came days after India and China postponed the Nov 28-29 15th round of boundary talks over the Dalai Lama’s participation in the conference.

Hong did not specifically say if China had conveyed its opposition to the conference.

India considers the Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland in 1959 after an abortive anti-Communist uprising, a spiritual leader and so free to speak on spiritual matters.

The India-China row over the conference led to the postponement of the boundary talks.

Both sides have downplayed the postponement, saying they were in touch over new dates.

Hong said that both sides were “in communication on relevant issues” and were also discussing the “specific agenda” of the talks. China paid “great attention” to the next round of talks with India, he stressed.

Tempa Tsering, the Dalai Lama’s chief representative in Delhi, protested against China’s design to give a political colour to a religious event, saying India “has done the right thing’ by refusing to cave in.

“They (conference delegates) have no other motive other than to bring Buddhist scholars together to discuss Buddhist philosophy and share experiences of how the Buddhist teachings can help humanity,” Tsering told IANS at Hotel Lalit where some sessions were held.

“India is a free democratic society. China is a closed society; that’s why they are reacting in a paranoid manner,” Tsering said, when asked about Chinese objections.

“The Dalai Lama has been a guest of India for the last 52 years. It would have been unusual if the Dalai Lama, who is regarded the world over as a spiritual leader and the head of Tibetan Buddhism, will not attend this conference,” he said.

“The government of India has done the right thing to let the Dalai Lama speak at the conference,” he said.

The Asoka Mission, the organiser of the conference, has also objected to the politicization of the event by China.

“The world is dealing with … violence, social and economic disparity, environmental degradation and discord between and within communities and nations. The objective of the congregation is to stand united when it comes to sending their collective message to the world on such issues,” said Lama Lobzang, president of the Asoka Mission.

Around 900 Buddhist scholars and followers from several countries are participating in the conference that began in New Delhi Sunday.