By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 18: Senior Indian leaders and officials were reportedly warned by New Delhi not to engage with the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama prior to the ‘Rising Himachal global investors summit’ in Dharamshala that was held earlier from November 8-9.
The maiden investors meet was headlined by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many senior leaders from the ruling party and opposition cadres, prompting Beijing to reach out to New Delhi and remind that meetings with the Tibetan leader will adversely affect the bilateral relations between the two.
Times of India reported that India responded by allaying Chinese reservations and giving reassurances that the Dalai Lama is not allowed to carry out any political activities and that the event held in Dharamshala was not political. Chinese fears of the 84-year-old Tibetan leader meeting other high-profile leaders comes almost a week after US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback visited the seat of the exile Tibetan government and met with its leaders and the Dalai Lama at the end of October.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson at the time said, "China firmly opposes any contact with the Dalai Lama by any foreign official. The words and deeds of a certain US official violates US commitment to recognise Tibet as part of China, and not to support Tibetan independence. China firmly opposes such words and deeds."
Despite Modi and Xi’s informal meet at Chennai last month was touted as an indication of improving India-China relations, observers say that the bilateral ties are rocky with India delaying visas for Chinese officials earlier this month who were scheduled to attend a border talk in India.
In a similar incident to distant New Delhi from the exile Tibetan government and the Dalai Lama, Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha in March 2018 was reported to have issued a note for internal circular to all Ministries/Departments of Government of India as well as State Governments not to accept any invitation or to participate in the proposed commemorative events proposed by the CTA, citing “tension in relations with China”. A noted China expert called the move as “course correction” with regards to stabilizing relations with China.