Dalai politicise barb at China

The Dalai Lama has expressed “surprise” at China’s objections to his proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh, saying Beijing is politicising the visit too much.

“I was surprised at China’s criticism. If my visit creates problem, I am very sad, that’s all,” the Tibetan leader, on a visit here, told journalists, implying that he intends to go ahead with his visit to a monastery in Tawang on November 8.

“The Chinese government politicises too much wherever I go. Where I go is not political,” the 74-year-old Nobel peace prize winner said.

Contending that he was travelling to Arunachal in connection with teaching his beliefs, the Dalai Lama said Tawang held great memories for him as this was his first stop 50 years ago when he was forced to flee Tibet.

India and China were recently engaged in a verbal spat over the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit to Arunachal , to which China lays claim.

China objected to his visit, but India said the Tibetan leader was free to travel anywhere in India.

New Delhi, however, has made it clear that the Dalai Lama is not to engage in political activities or discuss the India-China boundary question.

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit the Tawang monastery to deliver spiritual discourses to his followers at the invitation of local leaders and also to dedicate a new hospital, built in part with funds donated by him.

The Dalai Lama recently visited Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory, and met political leaders despite strong criticism from China.

During the press conference, Dalai Lama raised concerns over the plight of Tibetans and other ethnic minorities in China, urging journalists to visit there to assess the conditions without the presence of security officers.

“If the reality in Tibet is what the Chinese government claims, then our information is wrong. We would have to apologise and cease all our activities,” the Tibetan spiritual leader said.

“... But if it is not as what the government claims, then Beijing should take a realistic approach at solving the situation because propaganda isn’t going to work,” he said.

He said allowing the media to report the truth about Tibet would help China build trust with other countries and that would increase its authority in global affairs.

Although branded by China as a “separatist” trying to tear Tibet away from Chinese rule, the Dalai Lama insisted he is seeking genuine autonomy, not outright independence.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is on a nine-day trip to Japan, during which he will visit the southern Japanese island prefecture of Okinawa and the western Shikoku Island city of Matsuyama to deliver lectures.