As previously mentioned on this blog, the region of Tawang, near Bhutan, is located in disputed territory: both China and India claim it, though India currently contorls it. Birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama and home to a large Tibetan Buddhist monastery, the region’s Tibetan flavor and culture makes it a particular thorn in China’s side.

Now comes the news, that, hard on the heels of his visit to Taiwan, the current (14th) Dalai Lama is preparing to visit Tawang in November. China objects.

“China doesn’t need to worry about the trip. It’s purely a spiritual and religious visit,” said Chimme Choekyappa, the Dalai Lama’s secretary. “All that I can tell you is that he is likely to go to Arunachal Pradesh in the second week of November. He is going there at the invitation from some local Buddhists,” Choekyappa told [the Times of India] from Dharamsala.

His religious duties aside, the Dalai Lama is in a difficult position. He must keep the channels for peace and reconciliation open on the off-chance Beijing is willing to soften its line, and he must be a beacon of freedom and independence for the Tibetan people and oppressed minorities in China (such as with his appearance with Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer in Prague recently.) In this CNN interview from his Taiwan visit, he skillfully walks the tightrope.

Meanwhile, in what is becoming a regular event, China reports record numbers of tourists in Tibet.

[Image: Rebiya Kadeer with the Dalai Lama in Prague. © AFP]

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