Dalai Lama reaches Tawang after seven-hour journey

Apr 10, 2017, 01:10
Dalai Lama reaches Tawang after seven-hour journey

The Dalai Lama at a Tawang monastery.

The Indian government has insisted the trip is purely religious and pointed out that the Dalai Lama has been to Tawang before, accusing China of creating an "artificial controversy".

The Dalai Lama could turn to a less traditional method of choosing his successor, and pick a child - or an adult - before his death. India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometres (15,000 square miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau.

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama arrives to attend a press conference after delivering teachings at Yiga Choezin, in Tawang, in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, India April 8, 2017.

Critics and political commentators in the state feel that by repeatedly inviting the Dalai Lama, India is pricking an already rocky relationship between the two countries.

On whether his visit to Tawang, a place Beijing claims as its own, will affect India-China ties, he said: "We will have to wait and see".

The Dalai Lama reiterated Wednesday that he as well as his people were not seeking Tibet's independence, but are struggling to secure "meaningful autonomy" for the region from China. The Tibetan monk said he wished a Chinese official had accompanied him to know the reality.

The Dalai Lama also suggested that the Indian government should encourage Chinese Buddhists to visit important Buddhist sites in India, where the religion originated before being brought to China around the second century BC.

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In an interview last month to John Oliver, the host of U.S. television show Last Week Tonight, the Dalai Lama was asked if he was anxious China might appoint its own Dalai Lama. "A Chinese student told me that his impression about the Dalai Lama had changed".

This will be the Dalai Lama's first visit to Arunachal after eight years.

Beijing labels the exiled Tibetian leader as a unsafe separatist who is trying to seek Tibet's independence from China.

The Dalai Lama said there have been discussions that the Chinese government should finalise his successor.

The Dalai Lama has lived in India in self-imposed exile since 1959.

Welcoming the Dalai Lama to West Kameng district, chief Minister Pema Khandu, who hails from it, called him the world's "apostle of peace".

Asked whether Beijing views India's permission to the 81-year-old leader to visit Arunachal Pradesh amounted to questioning the "One China" policy, Hua said, "I want to re-emphasise that on issues concerning China's major concern and core interests, territorial and sovereignty, our position is consistent".

"So far there have been 14 Dalai Lamas who have been produced in China". The latter has put in jeopardy years of negotiations with a visit to the frontier town of Tawang, a pivotal area for Beijing when it comes to Tibetan affairs.