The Dalai Lama will visit Ladakh in northwestern India today to give Buddhist teachings.
The Tibetan spiritual leader’s last visit to Ladakh preceded a deadly clash between Chinese and Indian military forces occurred along the border in the region in 2020. The incident and subsequent military confrontations brought the bilateral relationship to its lowest nadir in decades.
The border disputes and the “Tibet question,” posed by the presence of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan diaspora community in India, are entangled due to history and geographical contiguity and have long troubled China-India relations. China disputes India’s territorial claims along the border, and it accuses the exiled Tibetan figure of separatism and opposes the Indian support to him.
The impact of the Dalai Lama’s upcoming trip on China-India relations is expected to be low in the short term. Beijing and New Delhi have been prioritizing fixing the damaged relationship since the 2020 border conflict through 15 rounds of military talks and two recent official meetings by foreign ministers. Whereas China is unlikely to react strongly to the event despite its long-held opposition, India will likely refrain from provoking China on this issue.
Jeremy Ma is a research analyst with Foreign Brief focusing on East Asian geopolitics. He specializes in regional security and social issues. His research interests include China’s foreign relations, cross-Strait relations, and territorial and maritime disputes in East Asia.