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China Protests Dalai Lama's Plans to Visit Arunachal Pradesh

By Stephanie Ho
20 October 2009

China has protested the Dalai Lama's plans to visit a border area in India that both countries claim.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu says Beijing firmly opposes a visit by the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, in India.

The Chinese spokesman leveled his criticism directly at the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Ma says the move exposes what he calls "the Dalai Lama's nature of anti-China separatism."

Tibet is an autonomous region of China. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959, after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. China accuses him of continuing to work for independence for his homeland.

Arunachal Pradesh is a border area south of Tibet and west of Bhutan. Both China and India have disputing claims there.

The two countries fought an inconclusive border war in 1962, and there are other border disputes that have not been resolved.

China recently expressed strong dissatisfaction over Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's trip to Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month.

India has been angered by China's involvement in helping to build a dam in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is the focus of a bitter territorial dispute between India and Pakistan.

Chinese spokesman Ma downplays any disputes between Beijing and New Delhi.

Ma said Sino-Indian relations have maintained what he called "good momentum of growth," and that both sides will continue to push forward what he described as a "strategic partnership."

He says Kashmir is, "an issue left over from history." He urges India and Pakistan to resolve their territorial dispute through dialogue, but did not directly address questions about China's involvement there.

Ma says the Chinese and Indian foreign ministers will meet later this month on the sidelines of a gathering that also includes Russia's foreign minister.

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