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India behind Dalai’s trip to Arunachal: Chinese scholar
Published on 1 Dec. 2009 11:36 PM IST
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India uses the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to strengthen its claim on Arunachal Pradesh, a sprawling region that Beijing claims, a Chinese scholar has said. “In the eyes of Chinese, we believe that you use the Dalai Lama to strengthen your argument (for Arunachal),” said Hu Shisheng, deputy director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian studies in Beijing’s China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. China claims virtually the entire Arunachal Pradesh and calls it southern Tibet. It is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. Brushing aside Chinese objections to the Dalai Lama’s visit to “so called Arunachal Pradesh” in November, India described the Tibetan leader as an “honoured guest” and said that Tawang in the state was an “integral part” of India. The Dalai Lama went to the Tawang monastery and agreed with the Indian assessment. On a recent visit to India, Hu told IANS: “The Dalai Lama is very powerful even among Tibetans in China.” Zhang Gulhong, executive director at Fudan University’s Centre for South Asian Studies, said Tawang was of special importance due to the historical claims of China over the region. Zhang felt that the Dalai Lama’s statement in Tawang praising India was a Thank You to India for hosting him since he fled his homeland in 1959 -- three years before India and China fought a brief border war. At the same time, the Chinese scholars felt that Sino-Indian relations, strained in recent times, needed to improve. Zhang Li of Sichuan Univerisity’s Institute of South Asian Studies said that there had to be “innovative thinking” from both sides to resolve the lingering boundary dispute. In 2005, during Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s visit to New Delhi, India and China agreed to resolve the row with certain political parameters. Since then, however, both countries have got bogged down over minor issues. According to Zhang, who studied in the Jawaharlal Nehru University here over a decade ago, the best way forward is to “enlarge common interests and reduce the importance of the border issue in our overall bilateral relations”. At the same time, he said that “in China, we don’t think that it (boundary dispute) is so serious as compared to the perception in India”. However, the Chinese scholars felt that positions had hardened on both sides in recent times. “There is a kind of nationalism very popular among intellectuals” who, Hu said, do not want to see their governments soft with the other. He felt that there was still a “Cold War mentality” in India, which he said views the border in terms of concepts like “buffer, natural barrier and balance of power”. He said the increased animosity between the two countries in recent times could also be due to vested groups. There is also the Indian media, he added. “When you test fire a certain long range missile, the Indian mass media will add a sentence that this missile can cover Shanghai and Beijing. This will arouse discomfort in China”. Beijing, Zhang said, was surprised by the sharp Indian reaction to the joint statement by the US and China, during President Barak Obama’s trip, to work towards stability in South Asia. “Immediately after the 1998 Indian nuclear tests, (US President) Bill Clinton came to China and jointly talked about doing something in South Asia. So this is not new,” pointed out Zhang.

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