BEIJING (AP) " China lashed out at India for hosting the Dalai Lama near their disputed border, warning Wednesday that the Tibetan spiritual leader's visit has touched on the political foundation of the Asian giants' relationship.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said bilateral ties will suffer after Indian officials hosted the 81-year-old monk last week in disputed territory and "indulged in provocative political statements."
The comments were the latest salvo in a weekslong war-of-words between the two nuclear-armed neighbors over the Dalai Lama's visit, which has raised thorny territorial issues. Beijing considers the India-based Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist seeking Tibet's independence and frequently objects when governments host him on his travels.
His visit to a remote monastery has been galling for Beijing because it took place in Arunachal Pradesh state, which China also claims. China appeared to be particularly incensed by remarks by the state's Chief Minister Pema Khandu, who said that India shared a border with Tibet rather than China and that Beijing had no business dictating India's domestic affairs.
As part of a historic agreement, India acknowledges Tibet as a part of China " although it rejects Beijing's claim to about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of Indian-controlled territory in Arunachal Pradesh.
Lu said Wednesday that India "violated its solemn commitment on Tibet-related issues" and that China would take "further action to safeguard its territorial integrity and national security."
The two countries' forces have faced off for decades across a long mountainous border, with tensions never fully settling after a brief but bloody war high in the Himalayan peaks more than 50 years ago.
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 amid an uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, which Communist forces had occupied earlier in the decade. The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he merely advocates for substantial autonomy and protection of the region's native Buddhist culture.