Monday, 5 December 2011

India and China cancel border talks after Dalai Lama row

China and India have cancelled a round of talks to settle their border dispute after India allowed the Dalai Lama to participate in a global Buddhist conference.

Beijing insisted that New Delhi block the exiled Tibetan leader's speech at the conference; it refused to do so and cancelled this week's dialogue instead. Both Indian and Chinese officials did not address the issue publicly, stating simply that the date of the next round of talks was still being decided; however, the Indian ambassador to Beijing was reportedly brought back to New Delhi for consultations.

China regularly criticises governments which host the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists and a man who the Communist Party considers to be a dangerous troublemaker and separatist. He has lived in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959, although the Indian government is wary of allowing him to use the country as a base for political opposition to China.

The cancellation of talks comes at a time when the two sides are making substantial progress towards settling their disputed border, a major source of tension as both emerge on to the world stage. They have been developing “Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs” to resolve disputes which occur along the boundary line.

Tensions persist along the border, however. China is apparently angry at Indian plans to develop a Mountain Strike Corps of 100,000 soldiers to be deployed along the border; India, for its part, is concerned about the development of Chinese infrastructure near the boundary line, which could be used for military purposes.

Despite the postponement of talks both sides are keen to insist that cooperation will continue. India's Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said on 30th November that defence talks, scheduled for December, would go ahead.

Sources: The Hindu, Voice of America

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