Making another outreach to the Chinese people on Tuesday, the Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual leader, appreciated their interest in Buddhism.

The moves comes against the backdrop of his much-publicised visit to Northeast India, including Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese government has opposed.

“The Chinese hardliners consider me a troublemaker, but the general Chinese people are very positive. For the past few years, every week some Chinese from mainland China come to see me. Whenever we meet, the Chinese Buddhists cry,” he told a news agency.

The spiritual figure is expected to travel to Guwahati by March-end to begin the Northeast trip. From Guwahati, the Dalai Lama is expected to travel to Tawang, where he will hold a series of ceremonies.

The trip to Tawang has already drawn opposition from Beijing with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticising the plans because of China’s territorial claims over the region. China’s criticism also drew a response from Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who said it was invalid.

“We are not recognising the Dalai Lama as a political leader. But we do recognise him as a spiritual leader. So China’s stand is irrelevant. If we want to invite a major Buddhist leader to a conference, then it is our privilege,” Dr. Tharoor said.

‘Negative persona’

At a public function in New Delhi on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said India-China relationship had a negative public persona in India.

The response of Mr. Jaishankar underlines the continued differences between India and China over a number of issues including territorial claims, counter-terror measures and Tibet.

Mr. Jaishankar obliquely referred to India-China differences on terrorism and said, “Nothing has globalised more than terrorism, yet responses to it remain very tactical, national; therefore remain very limited.”