Beijing: The Dalai Lama issue took an ugly turn on Wednesday. China warned India that it will take "necessary measures" to defend its territorial sovereignty and interests after India "obstinately" allowed the Dalai Lama to visit the "disputed" parts of Arunachal Pradesh causing "serious damage" to the bilateral ties.
China also lodged a protest with India's Ambassador in Beijing Vijay Gokhale over the Dalai Lama's visit.
"India in disregard to China's concerns obstinately arranged the Dalai Lama's visit to the disputed part of the eastern part of China-India border, causing serious damage to China's interests and China-India relations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters.
China firmly opposes this move, she asserted.
"China's stand on the eastern part of the borders is consistent and clear. India is keenly aware of the role played by the 14th Dalai Lama.Arranging his visit to those sensitive and disputed areas not only runs counter to the Indian side's commitment to the issues related to Tibet but also escalates disputes over the border area," she said.
Hua stated that it goes against the momentum of the sound growth of bilateral relations and will not benefit India in anyway.
"The visit will for sure trigger China's dissatisfaction. This will not bring any benefit to India," she said.
China will firmly take necessary measures to defend its territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests, Hua asserted.
Asked what measures China would take, Hua did not elaborate.
"I don't have much to add. I want to add the issues concerning Tibet has a bearing on China's core interests. India in disregard of China's concerns obstinately arranged the visit," she said.
"We demand the Indian side immediately stop its actions using the Dalai Lama to undermine China's interests and not hype up sensitive issues between the two countries, not artificially damage the foundation of the talks between the two countries on the border issues and bilateral legislations and take concrete actions to safeguard the China-India relations," she said.
The 81-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader reached Bomdila in West Kameng district on Tuesday, starting his nine-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh.
China claims parts of Arunachal Pradesh as southern Tibet and had previously warned that if India allowed the visit of the Dalai Lama, whom it calls an "anti-China separatist", it would cause "serious damage" to ties.
China is sensitive to the Dalai Lama's visit to Tawang region in Arunachal which happens to be the birthplace in 1683 of the sixth Dalai Lama and is at the centre of Tibetan Buddhism.
"We hope we can work together to maintain growth of India China relations. We know India and China are two close neighbours and countries in Asia. Cooperation between us will serve interests of the region," Hua said.
"We hope to maintain good momentum of growth but this move runs counter to this wish, so we hope India stop doing things that undermine our interests," she said.
On Tuesday, Minister of Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said India never interfered in Beijing's affairs, has respected the "One China" policy, and thus China should not interfere in India's internal affairs or object to the Dalai Lamas visit. "There is no political angle behind his holinesss visit to Arunachal Pradesh. It is completely religious."
Separately, the External Affairs Ministry has said that no "artificial controversy" should be created about the visit.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson rejected Rijiju's comments, saying "China upholds the policy of not interfering with other countries internal affairs. This is unquestionable."
"But in disregard to China's concerns India arranged the visit of Dalai Lama to the disputed areas. This issue goes beyond internal affairs," she said.
"The role played by the Dalai Lama is clear to all. Chinas position on the eastern section of the boundary is also very clear," she said.
"The arrangement of Dalai's visit to the disputed area by India runs counter to its commitments on issues related to Tibet and it runs counter to benefits of bilateral relations. We demand that India stop this wrong action," she said.
About Rijiju's comments that it was a religious visit and should not be politicised, she said, "We have noted the statement of the official from the Indian side."
"Could you tell me honestly do you seriously believe that Dalai is only a religious leader. I think the answer is known to all. He is not just a religious figure.
"Therefore, his visit to the place will not be purely of religious purpose. So using the empty words to defend this arrangement is not reasonable. We demand the Indian side to stop this move of undermining Chinese interests," she said.
Chinese officials in off the record conversations with the media said China is really angry about the Dalai Lama's visit specially because he was accompanied by a minister.
Unlike previous visits, the officials said the Dalai Lama was accompanied by a minister which makes it different.