The four day long Global Buddhist Congregation meant to celebrate 2,600 years since Siddhartha Gautama became Enlightened turned into an unexpected, major obstacle for the entirely separate, 15th round of Special Representative talks regarding matters between the countries of India and China. The Global Buddhist Congregation is scheduled to start festivities in New Delhi, a timing which coincidentally coincided with the now cancelled 15th round of SR talks. When the Chinese government got the news that the Dalai Lama would be attending the Global Buddhist Congregation and giving an address, it started demanding unreasonable things from India.
Ever since the Chinese government marched into Tibet with its military in 1950 and effectively ended Tibet’s autonomy, the Dalai Lama’s relationship with China has been sour and full of incredible, one-sided hostility from the Chinese government.
After a failed uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee Tibet and set up a government-in-exile near India’s border with China.
For decades, the Dalai Lama has been traveling around the world raising awareness and support for what he calls “greater autonomy” for Tibetans who are dissatisfied with Chinese rule.
Meanwhile the Chinese government has been venomously trying to stamp out the Dalai Lama’s influence by forcing monks to live in “reeducation” camps, refusing to deal with other governments who invited the Dalai Lama to their countries or even “warning” others of a strain in relations, like with the United States when President Obama invited the Dalai Lama to the White House.
Many are outraged that the Chinese government has audaciously claimed the right to choose the Panchen Lama, who is to be the next Dalai Lama, as they see Tibet as just another province of China just as the Chinese government sees the virtually independent Taiwan as a Chinese province.
The Han Chinese ethnicity has also been recently clashing with other ethnic groups, such as the Uighurs, who lament that their cultures are being stifled by the overwhelming presence of Han Chinese.
Regarding the Dalai Lama’s presence in New Delhi, the Chinese government demanded the India bar the Dalai Lama from giving his address. The Indian government refused the demand saying that there is no restriction on the freedom of speech in its country.
After that demand failed to go through, China instead demanded that the Global Buddhist Congregation be canceled. Of course India refused this as well.
India also asserted that this event was religious and “not political” and that the Indian External Affairs Ministry’s Publicity Division is only co-sponsoring a book fair and a film festival that will play Buddhism-themed films.
Chinese government officials still threw a tantrum and announced that the 15th round of talks cannot be held while the Dalai Lama is near them making this the first time that the talks have been postponed.