China on Friday said the Dalai Lama's scheduled visit to Arunachal Pradesh in March 2017 will hamper Sino-Indian relations, NDTV reported. On October 27, India approved the exiled Tibetan leader's visit to Arunachal Pradesh.
China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said the invitation to the leader "for activity in the disputed areas between China and India will damage peace and stability of the border areas as well as the bilateral relationship between China and India." An official at Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s office told The Hindu that the invitation from the Arunachal Pradesh government, for the fortnight-long visit, was extended on October 9.
Indian officials said the trip had no religious significance and was planned because the spiritual leader had a strong connection with the state, especially to Tawang. He came to India from China through the mountain route of Tawang in 1959.
The development comes only days after China criticised US envoy Robert Verma's visit to the "disputed region" on October 21. Delhi dismissed Beijing's concerns, and said there was nothing unusual about the accredited ambassador's visit to the state, which is an "integral part" of India. After the visit, the chief minister put out a message on social media, and said, “America makes its presence in Tawang festival. Thank you Richard Verma for making the festival a global event by your presence.”
On October 27, China also warned India against boycotting Chinese goods, a move which Beijing says could impact India-bound investments and bilateral ties. The India-China border has been a matter of dispute as China lays claim to parts of Arunachal Pradesh, and both countries have varying versions of the Line of Actual Control separating them.