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India's use of Dalai Lama as leverage irresponsible | Updated: 2017-04-05 22:09

New Delhi not only allowed the 14th Dalai Lama to visit Southern Tibet, a historical Chinese territory India has illicitly occupied and refers to as "Arunachal Pradesh", but the spiritual leader of "Tibetan independence" was also escorted on his trip by India's junior minister of home affairs.

To Beijing, that is a double affront.

The Times of India, for one, made it crystal clear: "Dalai Lama and Tibet: India's leverage against China", is the headline of an article published on Monday that says "Tibet and the Dalai Lama can help India counter in some measure the vice like veto China exercises on India's entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and its move to bring Pakistan-based terrorist mastermind Masood Azhar under UN sanctions".

Calling Southern Tibet "an inseparable part of India", Kiren Rijiju, the Indian junior minister, said: "China should not object to the Dalai Lama's visit and interfere in India's internal affairs."

Rijiju might think himself cute in borrowing a line from Beijing's diplomatic representations, but he has ignored the fundamental distinction here: Like Taiwan and any other part of China, Tibet is a part of Chinese territory no matter whether New Delhi agrees or not. Southern Tibet, on the other hand, was stolen from China by his country's former colonial master taking advantage of China's internal strife.

Should he have any questions regarding the status of Southern Tibet, Rijiju can consult the historical archives. Neither the "McMahon Line", by which New Delhi justifies its actual control of Southern Tibet, nor the present-day "Arunachal Pradesh" has Beijing's endorsement. In other words, Indian occupation of the area is legally untenable. Using it as leverage, therefore, is not just unethical. It is outright illicit.

Despite the historical dispute, the China-India border area has by and large remained peaceful recently, particularly since Beijing and New Delhi began to get serious about border talks.

If New Delhi chooses to play dirty, however, Beijing should not hesitate to answer blows with blows.

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