China should not hesitate to answer "blows with blows" if India chooses to play dirty by allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh, the Chinese official media said on Thursday.
Two English newspapers -- China Daily and Global Times -- have launched a scathing attack on India after Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said that Arunachal Pradesh -- which China claims as part of Southern Tibet -- is "an inseparable part of India".
Taking exception to Rijiju's remarks, the papers said India is using the Dalai Lama as a "diplomatic tool" against China for its "vice like veto" against India's membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and UN ban on Jaish-e- Mohammed chief Masood Azhar.
"New Delhi not only allowed the 14th Dalai Lama to visit Southern Tibet, a historical Chinese territory India has illicitly occupied and refers to as 'Arunachal Pradesh', but the spiritual leader of 'Tibetan independence' was also escorted on the trip by India's junior minister of home affairs," the state-run China Daily said in its editorial. "To Beijing, that is a double affront," it said.
"Rijiju might think himself cute in borrowing a line from Beijing's diplomatic representations, but he has ignored the fundamental distinction here: Like Taiwan and any other part of China, Tibet is a part of the Chinese territory no matter whether New Delhi agrees or not," it said in an editorial.
"Southern Tibet, on the other hand, was stolen from China by his country's former colonial master taking advantage of China's internal strife. Should he have any questions regarding the status of Southern Tibet, Rijiju can consult the historical archives," it said.
"Neither the 'McMahon Line', by which New Delhi justifies its actual control of Southern Tibet nor the present-day 'Arunachal Pradesh' has Beijing's endorsement. In other words, Indian occupation of the area is legally untenable. Using it as leverage, therefore, is not just unethical, it is outright illicit," it said.
"Despite the historical dispute, the China-India border area has by and large remained peaceful recently, particularly since Beijing and New Delhi began to get serious about border talks," it said. "If New Delhi chooses to play dirty, however, Beijing should not hesitate to answer blows with blows," the paper said.
The aggressive editorials came after China on Wednesday lodged a protest with Indian Ambassador Vijay Gokhale here over the Tibetan spiritual leader's visit to the area. The Dalai Lama is currently on a nine-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh.
In its editorial, the ruling CPC-run Global Times criticised Rijiju for accompanying the Dalai Lama during his visit to the state. "The Dalai Lama has been to the disputed region before, but what makes this trip different is that he is received and accompanied by India's Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju. When China raised the concern over the visit, Rijiju commented that China shouldn't intervene in their 'internal affairs'," it said.
"New Delhi probably overestimates its leverage in the bilateral ties with China. The two countries in recent years have continuously strived to improve their relationship and the peace on the border area has been maintained," it said. "India has benefited from the good momentum of bilateral relationship as much as China. If New Delhi ruins the Sino- India ties and the two countries turn into open rivals, can India afford the consequence?," the tabloid, known for striking aggressive nationalistic postures, said.
"With a GDP several times higher than that of India, military capabilities that can reach the Indian Ocean and having good relations with India's peripheral nations, coupled with the fact that India's turbulent northern state borders China, if China engages in a geopolitical game with India, will Beijing lose to New Delhi?" it said.
"China considers India as a friendly neighbour and partner. China has never provoked bilateral disputes or made any pressing demand on India over the Dalai Lama. New Delhi should respond to Beijing's goodwill with goodwill," it said. "The Dalai question became one of the problems that upset the Sino-India relationship," it said.
"When India emphasises the relationship with China, it would place a tight control on the Dalai. When it has a grudge against China, it may prompt the Dalai to play certain tricks as a signal sent to China," it said.
Stating that India is dissatisfied with China over the NSG and Azhar issues, it said some Indians also called for boycott of Chinese goods. "The Dalai's visit to Arunachal Pradesh this time is seen as New Delhi using the monk as a diplomatic tool to put pressure on China," it said.