India Reiterates Tibet Position After US Delegation Visit – OpEd


Immediately after a visiting US delegation upped the ante on Tibet, India reiterated its stance on His Holiness’ Dalai Lama, emphasising his “revered” status and the respect accorded to him by the Indian people.

“The Government of India’s position on His Holiness the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent. He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. His Holiness is accorded due courtesies and freedom to conduct his religious and spiritual activities,” the Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal told a press briefing.

Jaiswal’s comments follow the visit of a seven-member US Congressional delegation which asserted that President Joe Biden will soon sign a bill on Tibet that has upset China. Jaiswal however refrained from commenting on the succession of the Dalai Lama, but  highlighted the spiritual leader’s significant role in India’s cultural fabric.

“A seven-member US Congress delegation paid a visit to India from 16-20 June 2024. The bi-partisan delegation was led by Rep. Michael McCaul, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee. They visited Dharamshala on 18-19 June,” the MEA spokesperson said.

He said the delegation also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and interacted with External Affairs minister S Jaishankar and Commerce & Industry minister Piyush Goyal.

“As regards the statements by the US delegation, I would refer you to the US side and it is for them to answer,” he said.

In a strongly-worded statement on Chinese President Xi Jinping, former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi —who is part of a US Congressional delegation — said on Wednesday that while the legacy of the Dalai Lama will live forever for compassion and tradition, the Chinese President will be gone and nobody will give him any credit.

Pelosi made these comments after meeting the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. The US Congressional delegation is led by US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and has members including Pelosi, who is now Speaker Emerita, and prominent US Congressional members — Mariannette Miller, Gregory Meeks, Nicole Malliotakis, Jim McGovern, and Ami Bera.

While the Dalai Lama meets foreign diplomats and visitors, this delegation is one of the most high-powered delegations from the US in recent years. Pelosi has been at the forefront of challenging Beijing, as she had visited Taiwan in August 2022.

The delegation’s visit comes after the US Congress last week passed a bill urging Beijing to re-engage with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders to peacefully resolve their dispute over the status and governance of Tibet.

Pelosi and McCaul told journalists in India that the government of President Joe Biden will sure implement the Tibet bill.

India recently hit back at China by renaming more than 30 places in Tibet. This was a riposte to Beijing which  has named 60 places in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh with Chinese names in an attempt to back its claim on the Indian province China calls ” Southern Tibet. “

The Indian renaming of Tibetan places in effect as reopening the Tibet question because India has so far recognised Tibet as part of China. 

Subir Bhaumik

Subir Bhaumik is a former BBC and Reuters correspondent and author of books on South Asian conflicts.

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