In what is being seen as New Delhi’s latest attempt to mend ties with Beijing, India’s new Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale wrote to Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha a day before he embarked on his visit to China recommending non-participation in events of the Tibetan government-in-exile, the Indian Express has reported.
Gokhale, who took over as India’s Foreign Secretary after S Jaishankar’s retirement in January, went to China on 23 February to hold talks with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou, Foreign Minister Wang and State Councillor Yang Jiechi.
This development comes eleven months after the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, one that was widely seen as a signal to China amid deteriorating relations between the two countries. The Dalai Lama’s visit, although not his first, had irked China as it not only claims Arunachal Pradesh in entirety but also accuses the spiritual leader of organising separatist activities in Tibet.
However, non-participation in events of the Tibetan government-in-exile is not a new move. India has always been cautious about engaging with the Tibetan leader. In 2009, under the Congress-led United Progressive Government, there was no government-level participation in the “50 years of exile” event and “Thank You India” campaign organised by the Tibetan government-in-exile. Gokhale was Joint Secretary for East Asia in the Ministry of External Affairs at that time.
India’s move comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China in June this year for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit.
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