World

BEIJING – China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has refused to come to Delhi to attend the Russia-India-China (RIC) foreign ministers’ trilateral meeting.

China officially conveyed that the minister’s schedule did not permit him to attend the trilateral meeting. But a report in The Indian Express says the Chinese diplomats made it clear privately that Beijing was “extremely upset” with India over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh last month.

The RIC ministerial meeting will be hosted by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the report adds. Notably, the meeting was scheduled to be held in Delhi on April 14.

Chinese officials said Friday that Wang could not confirm his participation in the meeting due to scheduling problems.

China last month lodged a diplomatic protest with India over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as part of Southern Tibet. The Chinese official media carried a torrent of articles criticising India for permitting the Tibetan spiritual leader to the area.

Last month China had said that it has an ‘open attitude’ for cooperation with India and Russia in the defence sector, downplaying reports that it has turned down a Russian proposal for a trilateral meet keeping Pakistan’s sensitivities in mind.

“China has an open attitude towards China-Russia-India cooperation in defence and is willing to maintain communication with all parties on meeting of leaders of ministries of defence of the three countries,” Chinese Defence Ministry said in a written response to reports in India media.

The Indian side tried to accommodate Wang and also suggested alternate dates later in April – between April 20 and 30.

The Chinese side, however, did not agree to attend the meeting even then.

The Dalai Lama’s meetings with Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama and former US presidents have drawn protests from China.

Asked whether China has made the specific request to Trump, Geng said on Friday that Beijing is firmly opposed to any foreign leaders meeting the Dalai Lama.

“The 14th Dalai Lama is not a simple religious figure, but has long engaged in anti-China separatist activities. He is a political exile. We firmly oppose any foreign countries allow him to visit them or any foreign official having any official exchange with him,” he said.