China isn’t happy with India for extending an invitation to the Dalai Lama to come visit a contested region in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. The Chinese government rebuked India Friday for the invitation, saying that the visit would harm relations between Indian and its neighbors.
The Dalai Lama was invited to visit a 35,000 square mile territory that India considers to be a state while China calls the area South Tibet. A Chinese spokesman from the country’s foreign ministry said China was “firmly opposed to the Dalai Lama visiting the China-India border,” according to Reuters. “We hope India will not further complicate matters on the China-India border and will not give the Dalai Lama clique a platform for its anti-China separatist activities.”
The Buddhist spiritual leader had accepted the invitation already, however. “His Holiness looks forward to visit in the second week of March,” Tenzin Taklha, a member of the Dalai Lama’s private office, said.
The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been living in exile since 1959 when he entered into political asylum after years of protest in Tibet over Buddhist suffering there. That year, a full-scale revolt broke out and the Dalai Lama fled as Chinese troops crushed the uprising. He eventually made it into India where he began a permanent exile. Back in Tibet, the Chinese government adopted brutal measures against Tibetans that the Dalai Lama would eventually call genocide. The Dalai Lama’s form of Buddhism was banned in the country and thousands of monasteries were destroyed.
That ban on the religion was lifted in 1976 but the Dalai Lama has remained in exile since and later became well known throughout the world for his efforts to establish Tibetan independence. He received a Nobel Prize in 1989 for his campaign to end Chinese ownership of Tibet.