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The BBC's Duncan Hewitt in Beijing
Beijing is still not ready to close the door on a figure used to support Chinese rule in Tibet
 real 28k

Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 16:54 GMT
China warns India over Lama

The Karmapa Lama is said to be housed in the Gyotu monastery near Dharamsala

China has warned India against granting political asylum to a Tibetan spiritual leader, the Karmapa Lama, who fled Chinese-ruled Tibet.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said any move to grant the 14-year-old monk asylum would violate the principle of peaceful co-existence that formed the basis of the Sino-Indian relationship.

The Indian side has said in explicit terms that it recognises Tibet as an inalienable part of Chinese territory
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao

The 17th Karmapa is the first "living buddha" to be recognised by both the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama's exiled Tibetan government, and his flight from Tibet to India is seen as a blow to China's religious policy in Tibet.

"The Indian side has said in explicit terms that it recognises Tibet as an inalienable part of Chinese territory and that the Dalai Lama cannot engage in political activities in India," Mr Bangzao said.

The BBC correspondent in Beijing says the flight of the Karmapa Lama has come as a major shock to the Chinese, who were grooming him as a key element in their control over Tibet.

Officially, China maintains that the boy left Tibet to collect musical instruments and symbolic headgear belonging to the previous Karmapa Lama and which are now in India.

No official requests for asylum have been made to the Indian government but Tibet's government-in-exile said on Monday it hoped India would view the situation favourably.

Click here to see map of the Karmapa's route

The 17th Karmapa Lama arrived in India last week after an arduous eight-day journey by car and on foot across the Himalayas.

He has since been moved to a secure location near the headquarters of the Dalai Lama at Dharamsala, in north India.

The boy is now in a secure location

The surprise visit has excited Tibetan exiles in India but also created division and disarray among his followers.

Concerns have been raised over his safety because of the presence of a rival faction in the Indian state of Sikkim.

The Karmapa's Kagyupa sect, known as the "Black Hats", was once Tibet's most politically powerful, but was supplanted by the Gelugpa school of the Dalai Lama 350 years ago.

There is speculation that he may eventually take up residence at a monastery in Sikkim, where his predecessor settled after fleeing Tibet.

The black hat which is a symbol of his authority, and which his followers believe is woven from the hair of female deities, is in Sikkim.

This could add to complications for the Indian Government because China has never recognised Sikkim as a part of India.

The Karmapa Lama escaped his Chinese guards at the 800-year-old Tsurphu monastery in central Tibet by saying he intended to go on a retreat.

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See also:
10 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Division in the flock
10 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Diplomatic jitters over Lama's visit
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Tibetan Lama meets spiritual leader
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Who is the Karmapa Lama?
07 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Lama's flight embarrasses Beijing
18 Jun 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Panchen Lama returns to Tibet
11 Mar 99 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Tibetans keep their faith
10 Mar 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Dalai Lama seeks dialogue on Tibet
09 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Karmapa Lama goes into hiding

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