Dalai Lama to visit disputed territory
BEIJING - Despite protests by the Chinese government, the Dalai Lama is going ahead with plans to visit a heavily militarized Tibetan Buddhist area in northeast India that is the focus of an intense territorial dispute between China and India, a Tibetan official in India said yesterday.
The Dalai Lama, 74, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, is expected to visit the state of Arunachal Pradesh from Nov. 8 to Nov. 15, the official said. China considers the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala, to be a separatist who advocates Tibetan independence. The Dalai Lama insists he wants only true autonomy for Tibet, which the Chinese army invaded in 1951.
A spokesman for the foreign ministry, Ma Zhaoxu, said China “firmly opposed’’ the Dalai Lama’s visit, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. “We believe that this further exposes the Dalai Lama clique’s anti-China and separatist nature,’’ Ma said.
Tenzin Taklha, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama, said last month that the Dalai Lama would visit the region because he had received “a number of invitations’’ since he last visited in 2003. “There is a large Buddhist population that is keen to have his holiness give teachings.’’
The Dalai Lama was scheduled to visit Arunachal Pradesh last year but canceled his trip. Some people in the area say he was denied permission by the Indian government.