‘Skip Dalai Lama events’ note by senior Indian govt officials puts foreign ministry in a fix

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The Hush Post: In a bid to seize the opportunity to reset its relationship with China as President Xi moves to consolidate his power from collective leadership to single-man rule, India is trying to find ways and means to diplomatically handle China, maintaining its blow hot, blow cold policy towards the dragon.

dalai lama
Indian govt functionaries told to stay away from Dalai Lama functions.

Though differences between New Delhi and Beijing remain on a variety of issues, the two sides have once again agreed to work together, and do not wish to see the Tibet issue emerging as an irritant again.

A news report was carried in the national daily The Indian Express which quotes cabinet secretary P K Sinha’s note to senior government functionaries . The note cites advice by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale which says “senior leaders” and “government functionaries” of the Centre and states should stay away from commemorative events planned for March-end and early April by the “Tibetan leadership in India”. The note has become a talking point in media circles, though the government thinks too much should not be read between the lines. The foreign ministry has said that India’s position has not changed but this is a “sensitive time” for India-China ties.

According to the media report, the note particularly mentioned a public event titled ‘Thank You India’ by the Tibetan government-in-exile scheduled to be held in Delhi on April 1. “He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. There is no change in that position. His Holiness is accorded all freedom to carry out his religious activities in India,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, though the foreign ministry statement is silent on the note.

According to the news report, the Foreign Secretary’s note to Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha on February 22 came a day before he flew down to Beijing and held talks with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and called on Foreign Minister.

Foreign Secretary Gokhale is in the know of dealing with China’s hardening of position on all major issues confronting the two countries. He was India’s ambassador to Beijing in 2017 when Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh from April 4 to 12 last year had irked China. As a part of its arm-twisting tactics, China cancelled its Foreign Minister’s visit to India for a trilateral meeting in April, Beijing stopped sharing hydrological data on Brahmaputra from mid-May, which was followed by the standoff in Doklam from mid-June.

The border standoff was resolved just ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Xiamen in China for the BRICS summit in October.

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