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    Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, gestures before delivering a public lecture on “Reviving Indian Wisdom in Contemporary India” at a function in New Delhi on February 5, 2017

    Dalai Lama of Discord: China-India Ties Put to the Test by Buddhist Head's Visit

    Asia & Pacific
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    It seems that the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, is poised to play a more active role in public policy, which may tarnish ties between China and its immediate neighbors, Russian expert on China Andrey Karneyev told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Russian expert on China Andrey Karneyev specifically pointed to the exiled Tibetan leader's growing public activity which he said may finally lead to a chill in China's relations with neighboring countries.

    The interview came after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying lashed out at India's decision to invite the Dalai Lama to an international conference on Buddhism, which was endorsed by the Indian Culture Ministry.

    According to Hua Chunying, India ignored China's "serious statements" and insisted on the Dalai Lama's participation in the international conference on Buddhism organized by the Indian government.

    "The issue of the Dalai Lama's [activities] has recently become a factor that could worsen the relations between Beijing and New Delhi," Andrey Karneyev said.

    He recalled that in a stern warning to the Indian government earlier this month, Beijing asked New Delhi not to go ahead with the visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh next month. Tawang is in the full-fledged Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh which China considers South Tibet.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in this regard that "the invitation to the Dalai Lama by the Indian side to the contested area between China and India will inflict severe damage on the China-India relationship and peace and stability in the China-India border area."

    "In this vein, the question arises why the Dalai Lama currently becomes the center of not only China-India tensions, but also causes problems in China's ties with its other immediate neighbors," Karneyev said, referring to last year's scandal in connection with the Dalai Lama's visit to Mongolia.

    Only after Ulan Bator's explanations, Beijing said that the incident is closed and resumed a number of interrupted cooperation projects.

    The Mongolian side expressed hope that the Dalai Lama's visit would not affect further relations with China, pledging that the religious leader would no longer visit Mongolia while the current government is in power.

    "To all appearances, the Dalai Lama, who at one time started talking about a complete rejection of political activity, again returns to politics. Naturally, it angers Beijing, whose relationship with the Dalai Lama has always been complicated," Karneyev said.

    In addition, he added, one can notice the desire of a number of states to try to play on these contradictions to gain political benefit from subsequently promising Beijing to display neutrality in this conflict.

    "However, this game can be very dangerous because the Dalai Lama is still associated with separatism in Beijing, and a threat to territorial integrity is always taken seriously by China which is not inclined to arrive at any consensus on the matter," Karneyev pointed out.

    Therefore, Chinese authorities urge all states to refrain from giving the Dalai Lama the opportunity to conduct political activities aimed at splitting China.

    "It is important that it is all about political activity," Karneyev said, adding that "the religious side of the Dalai Lama's problem in this case is receding into the background.

    The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Tawang in April. The Indian government has started sharing more official engagements with the Dalai Lama whom China has deemed a separatist. In December 2016, the Dalai Lama was invited to the Indian President's official residence, the first public meeting in 60 years.

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