China warns on Dalai Lama visit

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

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

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