India dismisses China's warning over Dalai Lama's Arunachal visit

Ministry of External Affairs official on condition of anonymity insisted that there has been no change on the government's position that "His Holiness the Dalai Lama is respected and revered spiritual leader" and as an "honoured guest" was free to travel to any part of India.

"The Indian Supreme Court also held in the Berubari case in 1956 that the government could not cede sovereign territory to another government without a constitutional amendment, though it could make adjustments and rectifications in the boundaries of India", Menon wrote in the book, highlighting India's problem in accepting China's demand.

China's sharp response against the visit by the Tibetan leader in exile followed a contrasting call by a former Chinese boundary negotiator, who stressed that if the two sides managed to overcome their differences in the eastern sector, the final settlement of the Sino-Indian boundary dispute would be well within grasp.

While China says the border dispute covers Arunachal Pradesh which it claims as Southern Tibet, India asserts that the dispute covered Aksai Chin area.

Mr. Geng's unambiguous remarks followed the "carrot" offered by Dai Bingguo, a former State Councillor and China's Special Representative for the boundary talks with India that both countries stood at the "gate" of the final settlement of the boundary provided they could overcome their differences along the eastern boundary alignment.

"India is fully aware of the seriousness of the Dalai issue and the sensitivity of China-India border question".

China had already warned India that any understanding with the Tibetan spiritual leader could damage the bilateral ties.

"One India" would imply that China recognise India's claims to Kashmir, contested by Pakistan, as well as border regions like Arunachal Pradesh.India's hosting of the Dalai Lama since he fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule has long irritated Beijing.

Geng was more clear and emphatic on the issue of the Dalai Lama visiting Arunchal Pradesh. Dai indicated that China was ready to swap territories if India agreed to concede a portion of the eastern sector, possibly Tawang. To reach an early solution to pending China India border question is in the fundamental interest of the two countries. "I have not seen the interview so I need to check on that", Geng said. This is also an important consensus reached by the two sides, he added. It has raised objections to his impending visit to the state. "The Dalai clique has always been engaging in anti-China separatist activities and its record on the border question is not that good", Geng said.

China had strongly protested against the Dalai Lama's meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in December, saying it opposes any form of contact between the Tibetan leader and officials of other countries.

  • Zachary Reyes