Chinese establishment is known for its iron fist that it shamelessly uses every now and then to bring dissenters into submission. Despite this an 81 year old monk makes a nuclear power and an emerging super power nervous simply by making an innocuous joke that was part of answer to a very difficult question .
The answer of Chinese paranoia of the Dalai Lama lies in the moral strength and soft power that His Holiness stands to embody. No amount of Chinese money can purchase respect that His Holiness commands simply by his presence. It is almost certain that he will win a fan vote against any Chinese leader.
Behind China’s temper tantrums lies their deep seated hatred of the most influential Buddhist leader of the world whom they cannot match.
China has acted petulantly against countries which have given public or political platforms to the Dalai Lama. A recent example is of Mongolia, a country which has a very complicated history with China.
India has also invited Chinese criticism by re-engaging with China more recently. This includes a meeting between the Indian President and His Holiness along the sidelines of a cultural program.
China fails to see that His Holiness has more appeal of soft power than any Chinese leader. What makes His Holiness endearing to even complete strangers is his enlightening presence and demeanor which clicks instantly with the people. Undoubtedly his spiritual leadership lends a very special flavor to it, something that no elected head of state can match.
It is this charismatic charm imbued with wisdom, both worldly and metaphysical that makes him all the more powerful in very likable sort of way.
Certainly, the Chinese state finds it impossible to match. They might have deeper pockets to set up Confucius Centers in the world but that has not made them a soft power.
China struggles unsuccessfully to match the soft power of His Holiness despite all its hard power. China shall understand that His Holiness is a world revered leader, liked for his moral strength, ideals, wisdom and their temper tantrums will not change it.