NEW DELHI: The progress made by New Delhi and Beijing over the past years to ensure that the longstanding territorial disputes did not block progress on other fronts has been almost negated by the current spat over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, with daily statements reflecting the sharp deterioration in diplomatic relations.

In the process China has reiterated its claim over Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet, while India has made it clear that Arunachal is an integral and inalienable part of the country. Beijing named six areas in Arunachal Pradesh as its “lawful right”, New Delhi rejected it outright, and today Beijing has followed it with, “It is time for India to do some serious thinking over why China announced the standardized names in South Tibet at this time. Playing the Dalai Lama card is never a wise choice for New Delhi. If India wants to continue this petty game,it will only end up in paying dearly for it.”

This was stated through an article in the official Global Times that also went on to maintain,

“China has been making efforts to solve the territorial disputes with India, but over the past decades, India has not only increased migration to the disputed area and boosted its military construction there, but it also named "Arunachal Pradesh," China's South Tibet, as a formal state of India in 1987.

Putting the Dalai Lama into its toolbox against China is another trick played by New Delhi lately. New Delhi would be too ingenuous to believe that the region belongs to India simply because the Dalai Lama says so.

India seems to have become trapped in its stubbornness to measure its strength with China. But territorial disputes cannot be settled by comparing which side is stronger or which country has more leverage. Otherwise, there is no need for Beijing to sit down with New Delhi at the negotiating table.”

“Muscular diplomacy” by New Delhi at this stage, when China was extremely keen to accord India a front seat in its wide reaching One Belt One Road program, is according to several foreign policy experts here “foolhardy.” As it opens up a new front, that had been actually addressed by BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with the successive Congress government carrying it forward. This had brought to rest a contentious chapter in India-China relations, to the relief of both, with border talks constituted under the National Security Advisors, starting with Vajpayee’s Brajesh Mishra.

New Delhi is now apparently having second thoughts about pursuing a course that has got Beijing bristling. New Delhi sought a trilateral meeting between the defence ministers of Russia, and China which the latter has turned down. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit is due in June that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend. Indications are that he will seek a side meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping but given the current situation it is not clear whether the response will be positive.

India has decided to remain out of OBOR that has foreign policy experts here divided with some maintaining that it is a wrong decision, as it keeps New Delhi out of what is fast becoming an important regional initiative. However New Delhi is now looking to BRICS to revive sagging relations somewhat with a summit preceded by ministerial level talks.

However, although there is some indication of a re-think in New Delhi, China remains visibly angry. Several articles criticising Indian experts and Ministers by name have appeared in the official media. For instance in an article earlier this month the China Daily directly attacked junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju with, “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 Chinese territory no matter whether New Delhi agrees or not. Southern Tibet, on the other hand, was stolen from China by his country's former colonial master taking advantage of China's internal strife.”

It is now becoming increasingly clear to the government here that a hornets nest, to put it mildly, has been opened by a show of muscular diplomacy that clearly is being countered by China with more of the same. And perhaps the writing on the wall was made clear by Beijing at the very start when an official media article ended with, “If New Delhi chooses to play dirty, however, Beijing should not hesitate to answer blows with blows.”

The spat between India and China over the Dalai Lama’s visit is threatening to split wide open into a full fledged diplomatic wato Arunachal Pradesh is fast acquiring the dimensions of a hreatening to blow into a China today said its decision to name six areas in Arunachal Pradesh is its "lawful right" because the Himalayan state constitutes South Tibet, a claim India has rejected for decades in a border dispute.

dia will pay "dearly" if it continues the "petty game" of playing the Dalai Lama card, Chinese media warned today, dismissing as "absurd" New Delhi's reaction to Beijing renaming six places in Arunachal Pradesh.

Referring to allegations that it was "silly for China" not to have names for various counties and inventing them for six places in Arunachal Pradesh, an op-ed article in the state-run Global Times said "these comments are absurd".

"It is time for India to do som ..

In protest against the Dalai Lama's visit to the border state earlier this month, China's civil affairs ministry has released a list of six places in the region with what Beijing considers to be their formal names, in Chinese, Tibetan and English. "To standardise these names and publicise them is a legitimate measure based on our lawful right," said a Chinese official today.

Delhi said yesterday that "every inch of Arunachal Pradesh" belongs to India. "Arunachal Pradesh is totally part and parcel of India. China has no business to name any of the districts," said Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. He asked if someone's given name can be changed by a neighbour.

China warned India that the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's tour of Arunachal would "severely damage" relations between the two countries. China considers the 81-year-old Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist.

India said that his trip was to promote religious harmony and had no political connotation, while asserting that in any case, China has no right to interfere in India's internal affairs.

In 1959, the Dalai Lama was a young monk when he fled Tibet over threats to his life after a failed uprising and trekked through the Himalayas for nearly two weeks, arriving in India through Arunachal Pradesh. He was allowed to set up his government-in-exile in the hill town of Dharamsala.

While releasing the new names, a Chinese government official said, "These names also reflect, and explain from one aspect, that China's territorial claims on Southern Tibet have an obvious historical, cultural and administrative jurisdiction basis."