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To further complicate matters, China controls about one-eighth of the sensitive Kashmir region over which both India and Pakistan have made claims.

The reason the long-scheduled border talks were canceled, despite all these issues requiring the urgent attention of diplomats, was that China objected strenuously to an international religious conference that was to start on Sunday. The nongovernmental conference was to have featured a speech by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Wednesday.

Since 1959, the Dalai Lama has led the Tibetan government in exile based in Northern India. Asked Monday to explain China’s objections, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated that China opposes any country that provides safe haven for the Dalai Lama, whom he called “a ‘splitist’ disguised as a religious leader.”

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at

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