Buddha event deepens India-China rift

Buddha event deepens India-China rift

The Government of India is understood to have rejected Beijing’s demand, stating that Dalai Lama is an honoured guest of India and is a highly revered spiritual leader who cannot be stopped from taking part in the congregation, which is scheduled to commence on Sunday.

The issue has now tu­rned into the latest row betw­een India and China, which ha­ve just postponed boundary talks in the backdrop of a tiff over Chinese objection to Indian companies’ role in hydrocarbon exploration in South China Sea. 

Beijing is worried over the possibility that Dalai Lama might use the forum of Global Buddhist Congregation 2011 to highlight the restrictions on religious freedom in Chinese-occupied Tibet, where at least nine Buddhist monks and two nuns – mostly from Kirti Mo­n­astery – immolated themselves to protest repression and hum­an right violation by the authorities of the communist country.

The organisers invited Dalai Lama to be the chief guest on the valedictory session on Wednesday.

Though the event is being organised by the Asoka Mission, the Government also got involved with it and some of the programmes associated with the congregation are being supported by the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs. Dalai Lama, who has been in exile in India since 1959, is also set to unveil a Coffee Table pictorial book – ‘Sharanam Gachhami’ – on the concluding day of the conclave. The book is being published by Full Circle and is supported by the Public Diplomacy Division of the MEA.
According to the sources, it was during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sideline of the East Asia Summit at Bali in Indonesia last week that Beijing placed before New Delhi its demand for cancellation of Dalai Lama’s address at the GBC-2011.

New Delhi reiterated its official position that Dalai Lama was “an honoured guest in India and he could go anywhere in the country. But he was not expected to indulge in political activities. The fresh irritant came up at a time when a row between New Delhi and Beijing over Indian companies’ role in hydrocarbon exploration in disputed South China Sea cast a shadow over the 15th round of the Special Representative level talks on the protracted boundary dispute.