Sun, Sep 07, 2014 - Page 5 News List

China praises S Africa over Dalai Lama visa

RIGHT OF REFUSAL:The Dalai Lama was once again denied a visa by the South African government, upon which China thanked the country for its ‘support’

AFP, BEIJING

The Dalai Lama wears a traditional Uighur cap that he recieved as a gift while he talks at an event of the Tibet Initiative Germany and the Tibet Association in Germany in Hamburg on Aug. 26.

Photo: EPA

China on Friday thanked South Africa and praised its “correct position” for apparently denying a visa to Nobel Peace Prize winner and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

An aide to the Dalai Lama said on Thursday he had canceled a trip to South Africa for a Nobel laureates’ summit because Pretoria had denied him a visa to avoid angering Beijing.

Previous rejections of the Dalai Lama’s visa requests by the African National Congress government have angered South Africans, who see it as a betrayal of the country’s commitment to human rights since apartheid ended 20 years ago.

“China highly appreciates the support offered by the South African government on issues concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) said at a regular briefing.

“We also believe that South Africa will continue to uphold this correct position and continue to support China in this regard,” he added.

South Africa has produced four Nobel peace laureates — Chief Albert Luthuli, archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, former South African president Nelson Mandela and former South African president F.W. de Klerk — and foundations connected to each of them had backed the summit scheduled for Cape Town next month.

The Dalai Lama traveled to South Africa several times after the end of apartheid.

However, his aide, Nangsa Choedon, said that Pretoria had “conveyed by phone to me they will not be able to grant the visa for the reason that it would disturb relations between China and South Africa.”

China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of secretly seeking Tibet’s independence, regularly deploys its economic and political muscle to pressure governments to limit contact with him.

Beijing is South Africa’s biggest single trading partner, with two-way trade worth US$21 billion in 2012. Both countries also cooperate in the BRICS grouping of emerging economies along with Brazil, India and Russia.

Qin reiterated Beijing’s view of the Dalai Lama.

“The Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long been engaged in activities sabotaging China’s sovereignty and integrity under the cloak of religion,” he said. “The Chinese government is firmly opposed to the Dalai’s anti-China separatist activities in foreign countries.”

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