China ‘opposed’ to US speaker’s Dharamsala visit

March 18th, 2008 - 9:39 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Manish Chand
New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) China is “unhappy” with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s scheduled visit this week to Dharamsala to meet the Dalai Lama, who has been blamed by Beijing for the violence in Tibet. Pelosi, who arrives here Wednesday night on a five-day visit, goes to Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Friday to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader for whom she has strong admiration.

Pelosi was a prime mover in the decision last year to honour the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal, a top US civilian honour. China had protested to the US against the move.

“We are opposed to the visit of Pelosi to meet the Dalai Lama,” a Chinese official who did not wish to be named told IANS Tuesday.

“We are not opposed to her visit to India. But we object to her going to meet the Dalai Lama,” the official said.

He, however, evaded a question whether the Chinese government had taken up the issue with the Indian authorities.

Pelosi’s trip to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh was planned much before the current unrest in Tibet started, and, therefore no political message should be read into it, US embassy sources told IANS.

But the timing of her visit has put the spotlight on the US stance on Tibet.

Pelosi meeting will be held at a time when China has minced no words in blaming “the Dalai clique” for “organised and pre-mediated violence” in Lhasa last week that Beijing says left 13 people dead. Tibetan sources put the death toll at 80.

Amid growing unease over China’s crackdown on Tibetan protesters, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday called on Beijing to open talks with the Dalai Lama and renewed a US appeal for China to show restraint in Tibet, saying there was now a “terrible situation”.

In contrast, China has shown an appreciation of India’s handling of the Tibetan protests but has told “Indian friends” in the same breath not to get carried away by “the Dalai clique” and avoid using irresponsible words.

India, where the Dalai Lama has been living in exile since he fled Tibet after a failed uprising in 1959, has called for a “non-violent” solution to the troubles and expressed “distress” at reports of the “unsettled situation and violence in Lhasa”.

Tibet is not the only issue that will be on her plate when Pelosi meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Indian leaders here Thursday.

“The Tibet issue will be discussed but our stand is quite clear. India has a one-China policy and we have recognised the Tibetan Autonomous Region as part of China,” said an Indian official.

Indian interlocutors will be keen to get a sense from her about the India-US nuclear deal’s future in case the Democratic party wins the presidential election, official sources said.

“She is a firm supporter of stronger ties with India but has strong personal views on nuclear non-proliferation of issues,” a source said.

Pelosi, an influential Democrat leader, made history last year when she became the first woman speaker of the House of Representatives.

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