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His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Arunachal Pradesh – UPDATE

By Ben Byrne  /  April 7, 2017;

The Dalai Lama who has lived in exile ever since fleeing Tibet in 1959, was visibly emotional as he embraced Naren Chandra Das
Photo: Getty Images

The Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu, stirred the controversy surrounding the Dalai Lama’s visit on April 5 when he stated that the Chinese had no right to object to His Holiness’s trip because, according to the Simla Accords, China “is not our next door neighbour”. Khandu’s comment implied that India’s border was with Tibet and that Tibet was a sovereign country under siege by the Chinese. Chinese state media has already condemned New Delhi’s invitation to the Dalai Lama as “clumsy and rude” and will likely categorise Khandu’s comments similarly.

From the Chinese side, Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on the same day that the Dalai Lama’s visit would “trigger China’s dissatisfaction” and “not bring any benefit to India”. She further warned that China “will firmly take necessary measures to defend its territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests”. The following day Chinese media organs gave some suggestion as to what those measures may be, warning that the Chinese could potentially interfere in Kashmir in response to the Dalai Lama’s visit. An editorial in the Global Times contemplated whether India could withstand a geopolitical onslaught from an “economically, militarily and diplomatically stronger China”.

Away from the mudslinging, the Dalai Lama made international headlines on April 2 when he met and embraced Naren Chandra Das, a retired Indian border guard who escorted him into India during his escape from Tibet in 1959. “Looking at your face, I now realise I must be very old too”, were His Holiness’ first words to Das, who later told reporters that he had been overcome by the warmth with which the Dalai Lama had greeted him.

Due to inclement weather, the Dalai Lama’s schedule in Arunachal Pradesh has been slightly altered. His Holiness’ arrival in Tawang, originally planned for April 5, was delayed until April 8. He will remain in Tawang, the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama, until April 10, giving teachings on Kamalashila’s The Middling States of Meditation and  Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo’s Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva at Yiga Choezin.

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