As India confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan during his visit to the neighbouring country on April 27-28, the Dalai Lama has welcomed the Indian PM’s proposed visit, saying: “We have to live side by side.”
The Tibetan spiritual leader said a couple of days ago that it would be important for both the Asian neighbours to normalise their ties and ensure peace in the region. He believes that New Delhi and Beijing together can make huge contributions in different fields.
The Dalai Lama met the press immediately after the Indian Ministry of External Affairs announced that Prime Minister Modi and President Xi would exchange views on important bilateral, regional and global issues. The ministry said that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over the weekend to resolve the outstanding bilateral issues ahead of the crucial Modi-Xi talks.
Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama expressed hope that the two Asian powers would soon realise the importance of co-operation in the changing global geopolitical landscape. “I think very good….neither India nor China…(has) the ability to destroy (each) other,” he told the media when asked about Modi’s upcoming China visit.
The Buddhist monk further said that ‘friendly’ ties between India and China would be beneficial for Tibet. “Tibet might remain a part of China, if its geographical, cultural and linguistic autonomy was guaranteed. Tibet will benefit from economy of China,” he added.
The Dalai Lama has always influenced the Sino-Indian relations. He came into the limelight in recent times, as the bilateral ties touched a new low (due to the border crisis). The state-run Chinese media accused India of using the Tibetan spiritual leader in order to put Beijing under pressure. However, the scenario changed in January when the Modi administration decided to ‘reset’ India’s ties with China. The Indian premier asked his ministers and bureaucrats not to attend any event organised by the Dalai Lama. Even the Indian government did not allow the monk to organise any event in New Delhi.
Foreign policy experts believe that the Dalai Lama has made it easier for India and China to ‘normalise’ ties by issuing such statements ahead of the Modi-Xi talks. According to experts, the Modi government has encouraged the spiritual leader to soften his stand on China. Delivering a lecture – titled ‘Role of Ethics and Culture in Promoting Global Peace and Harmony’ – to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his exile to India, the spiritual guru said: “Historically and culturally, Tibet has been independent. The region’s geography shows where Tibet begins. So long as the Constitution of China recognises our culture and Tibetan autonomous region’s special history, they can remain (part of China).” He stressed: “There was a time when every French looked at the Germans as enemies. But today, they are in the European Union. Similarly, we can work together.”
Indian political analysts are of the opinion that PM Modi is eager to maintain cordial ties with Beijing. It will be his fourth visit to China after becoming the PM in 2014. The Modi-Xi summit meeting is scheduled to take place in the backdrop of a series of high-level interactions between the two countries. In December 2017, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang visited India soon after the Doklam border standoff. Later, Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval arrived in Beijing to meet his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi. A couple of months ago, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met the top political leadership in Beijing to discuss bilateral issues. And Prime Minister Modi will visit China again on June 9-10 to participate in the SCO Summit at Qingdao.
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