China warns on Dalai Lama visit
BEIJING: China has stepped up its warning to Botswana over a planned visit by exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, next month, demanding the African nation respect China’s core interests.
The warning came yesterday as the Dalai Lama, reviled by Beijing as a dangerous separatist, was expected to address a human rights conference in the capital, Gaborone, held from August 17 to 19, and will also meet Botswana’s president. China is a major investor in Botswana’s economy.
China has already “clearly” expressed its point of view about the Dalai Lama’s visit, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.
“Issues relating to Tibet concern China’s sovereignty and territory integrity. We demand the relevant country earnestly respect China’s core interests and make the correct political decision on this matter,” Lu said, using stronger language than before on the issue.
“China will not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, but will certainly not tolerate another country doing anything that harms China’s core interests,” he added, without elaborating.
The Dalai Lama, who fled from Tibet into exile in India in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule, has long been at loggerheads with China.
The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, denies he is seeking independence for his Himalayan homeland. He says he is merely seeking greater rights, including religious freedom and genuine autonomy. Visits by the Dalai Lama to foreign countries infuriate China.
South Africa has denied a visa to the Buddhist monk three times since 2009 in what opposition parties here, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, say shows the extent of Beijing’s influence over the government.
China’s fast-growing demand for raw materials has made it one of the biggest investors in Africa. Chinese state-owned companies have been awarded contracts to build roads, dams, power stations and airports in Botswana. – Reuters