New Delhi is urged to block Dalai Lama's 'political activities'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 March, 2009, 12:00am

Beijing has urged India to curb the Dalai Lama's 'political activities' in the country, where the spiritual leader has headed a Tibetan government-in-exile for the past 50 years.

China's ambassador to India, Zhang Yan, announced at a press conference yesterday that Beijing had 'reminded New Delhi of its firm commitment not to allow the Dalai Lama to engage in political activities on Indian soil in the best interests of bilateral relations between the two countries'.

Analysts say China's reminder is significant because it comes on the heels of South Africa's decision to deny the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a peace conference in Johannesburg. Today is what Beijing calls Serfs Emancipation Day, commemorating the arrival of Chinese troops in Tibet 50 years ago.

The envoy also said Beijing was keen to schedule a meeting between President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in London next week, on the sidelines of the G20 economic summit. 'Dr Singh has just recovered from a serious illness [bypass heart surgery], and we have not received official confirmation whether he will attend the London summit,' he said.

Indian officials said doctors had granted Dr Singh permission to attend the summit, which starts on Thursday. If he goes, a meeting with Mr Hu is very likely.

'The two leaders can exchange views on the international financial crisis and take steps to guard against the protectionism of developed countries,' Mr Zhang said. 'The two countries should jointly push for reforms of international financial institutions to safeguard our interests.'

Indian diplomats said they had anticipated increased Chinese pressure to clip the Dalai Lama's wings after South Africa's visa refusal.

'We are silently monitoring the situation, but we apprehend more instances around the world of Beijing seeking to pressure governments playing host to the Dalai Lama,' said an Indian foreign ministry official.

Mr Zhang reiterated that the Dalai Lama would be allowed to return to Tibet only on China's terms.

'The future of the Dalai Lama can be discussed provided he abandons his demand for so-called independence of Tibet, stops his sabotaging actions aimed at breaking up China and openly accepts Tibet and Taiwan as inalienable parts of China,' he said.

When a reporter told Mr Zhang that the Dalai Lama was not seeking independence but only autonomy, the ambassador replied that the Dalai Lama could not be trusted as 'he says something but does something else'.