China protests to India over Dalai Lama visit

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks to media after delivering religious teachings at the Buddha Stadium in Bomdila in India's north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh state

China said on Thursday that it has lodged an official protest with India over the visit of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to contested territory along the two countries' border.

The Dalai Lama travelled to Arunachal Pradesh, parts of which Beijing claims as South Tibet, earlier this week for teachings at local monasteries.

"Inviting and approving the visit of the Dalai Lama to disputed areas between China and India has damaged our interests and China-India relations,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing.

Beijing claims that the religious leader is bent on splitting Tibet from China and has previously condemned the planned visit.

"We oppose the visit by the Dalai Lama to relevant areas and opposes the attempt by relevant countries to arrange a platform for the Dalai Lama to hold anti-China and separatist activities,” Hua said, adding that China had "launched representations" over the visit with the Indian ambassador to China and with the country's foreign ministry.

The Dalai Lama fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959 but is still deeply revered by many Tibetans.

Beijing says its troops "peacefully liberated" Tibet in 1951 and accuses the Nobel Peace laureate of seeking Tibetan independence through "spiritual terrorism".

He says he merely wants greater autonomy for his homeland, where many accuse the central government of religious repression and eroding Tibetan culture.