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Beijing Thanks South Africa for Blocking Dalai Lama Trip Say Reports

8 September 2014

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China thanks SA for "support" over Dalai Lama

05 Sep 2014 11:33 AFP

China says it welcomes SA’s support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, after the Dalai Lama says he was again refused entry to the country.

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 for the third time in five years.

An aide to Tibet’s spiritual leader said on Thursday he had cancelled 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 government have angered some South African public figures, who see it as a betrayal of the country’s commitment to human rights since apartheid ended 20 years ago.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said at a regular briefing: “We believe that South Africa will continue to uphold this correct position and continue to support China in this regard.”

South Africa has produced four Nobel peace laureates – Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk – and foundations connected to each of them had backed the summit scheduled for Cape Town next month.

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

But his aide Nangsa Choedon told AFP 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”.

‘Sabotaging China’s sovereignty’
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 $21-billion in 2012. Both countries also co-operate 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.”

Third visa denied
In March 2009, it was reported that South Africa refused to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama to attend a peace conference because it did not want to remove the world’s attention from the 2010 Soccer World Cup preparations.

At the time, former president Kgalema Motlanthe’s spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the whole world was focused on South Africa as hosts of the event, and the government wanted the focus to remain on South Africa.

A South African court ruled two years ago that officials had unreasonably delayed a decision on granting the Dalai Lama a visa in 2011 so he could attend the 80th birthday of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, largely out of fear of angering China. – AFP

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It’s business, Mr Lama, nothing personal

J Brooks Spector
05 Sep 2014

The inability of the Tibetan religious figure and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the Dalai Lama, to be able to enter South Africa for a conference of other laureates points to the inner confusion of values in South Africa’s foreign policy, critics say. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a look.

One would think that by now, even the Dalai Lama’s friends around the world would have gotten the message – the South African government really, really doesn’t want you to come here. Or, maybe, perhaps, the message really is: China really, really doesn’t want you to come to South Africa. And South Africa obliges.

This time around, he was supposed to be one of the honoured guests at an annual gathering of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The event has taken place every year since 1999, and this year’s meeting has been scheduled for Cape Town in October. As one of the Peace Prize laureates, in the fullness of time, the Dalai Lama’s people in India presented his application for a South African visa to the South African High Commission in New Delhi. Then, on 4 September, South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation issued two separate media releases about this presumably routine effort to secure permission to attend a gathering at which the Dalai Lama was supposed to be one of the honoured guests.

The first media release, issued just after morning tea, read rather tersely: “The South African High Commission in New Delhi, Republic of India, has received a visa application from the office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama for a planned visit by His Holiness to South Africa. The application will be taken through normal due process. The relevant authorities will communicate with the applicant thereafter.” But then, just a few hours later, by afternoon teatime, a rather different update followed, saying: “The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has received written confirmation from the office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama in India indicating that His Holiness has cancelled his planned visit to South Africa. At the time of the receipt of the notification, the South African High Commission in New Delhi was still processing the visa application in line with due process relating to visa applications. Following the cancellation of the planned visit by the office of His Holiness, the Department now considers the matter to be closed.”

The DIRCO website where these notices were posted just happened to have another media release right below the other two that a suspicious mind – or perhaps just a faintly cynical one – could draw a very interesting inference or two from it. This third notice, issued on 3 September, explained DIRCO Minister Nkoana-Mashabane just happened to be visiting China to co-chair the South Africa-China Inter-Ministerial Joint Working Group on Cooperation. Yup.

The minister was in China, it said, “to co-chair the first meeting of the South Africa-China Inter-Ministerial Joint Working Group on Cooperation scheduled for 03-04 September 2014. During the State visit to South Africa by President XI Jinping in March 2013, the ‘Terms of Reference of the South Africa-China Inter-Ministerial Joint Working Group on Cooperation’ were signed. The objectives of the Joint Working Group on Cooperation are to monitor the implementation of cooperative projects, manage and solve challenges which may arise during the implementation of such projects and further elevate bilateral economic relations through the deepening of practical cooperation.

“South Africa–China bilateral relations have enjoyed phenomenal progress in the space of fifteen years and have grown from a Partnership to a Strategic Partnership and subsequently to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. South Africa and China have committed to building, developing and strengthening relations based on shared principles of friendship and mutual trust; equality and mutual benefit; coordination; mutual learning; and working together for development.

“Furthermore, the objectives of the Joint Working Group on Cooperation are: to achieve a more equitable trade balance, encouraging trade in manufactured value–added products, increased inward-bound trade and investment Missions; to finalise the working group on trade statistics; to increase investment in South Africa’s manufacturing industry; to promote value-adding and beneficiation activities in close proximity to the source of raw materials; to cooperate and provide mutually beneficial technical support in the areas of the green economy, skills development and industrial financing; and to pursue opportunities to cooperate in infrastructure construction projects such as roads, railways, ports, power generation, airports and housing. The overall aim of South Africa’s approach is to use this mechanism to address inequality, poverty and unemployment, through enhancing our bilateral economic relations.”

In case any readers have not been following developments, or haven’t visited one of the dozens of China malls recently, it might be useful to note right about now that China has become South Africa’s largest international trade partner (save for all of the EU nations as a group) and an influential investment source to boot. It might not be a huge leap to see in all this yet one more example of China’s fierce efforts to minimize the recognition of the Dalai Lama’s world stature or to allow even the faintest sympathy for Tibet’s current predicament. China maintains dark suspicions about the Dalai Lama’s position on Tibetan independence, even though he has repeatedly stated he is not a proponent of independence from China – a nation that has, historically, often – but not always – been sovereign over Tibet.

Actually, it is not quite fair to say the SA government actually refused to issue a visa to the Tibetan leader. Rather, according to evening news reports, the Dalai Lama’s visa application was withdrawn after his office was told informally to the effect that pigs would have to be clocked flying at near-supersonic speeds before the Tibetan religious figure received a visa. The Dalai Lama’s representative in South Africa, Nangsa Choedon, told the media that DIRCO officials had phoned her office to inform her that the Dalai Lama was not going to receive a visa – although they had not yet received written confirmation of this. As a result, Choedon said, “For now the Dalai Lama has decided to cancel his trip to South Africa.”

In reply to these comments, DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela has been quoted on radio broadcasts saying DIRCO could not be held responsible for events if someone withdrew their visa application – presumably before it was refused. (Well, actually, DIRCO didn’t say anything about flying mammals, but apparently they did have something to say about flying Lamas.) As a result, this event has now been the third time in five years the Dalai Lama has been frustrated in his efforts to obtain a visa for South Africa.

Now, in response to this, there is yet another complication in the planning for this glitzy gathering. The Cape Times has reported that a number of other Nobel Peace laureates have conveyed to Archbishop Tutu their intention not come either, if the Dalai Lama was not permitted to enter South Africa for the event. The foundations representing the four South African Peace Prize laureates — Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, and Albert Luthuli have been putting together this year’s summit for Cape Town.

Throughout its history, this annual gathering has hardly been what most would regard as a coven of bomb-throwing anarchists plotting global revolution or a secret committee of rapacious capitalists plotting to take over the world. Rather, its partnering organizations encompass worthy folks like the Gorbachev Foundation, the Lech Walesa Institute Foundation, the FW de Klerk Foundation, the Yunus Centre (the group that promotes the work of micro-lending pioneer Muhammad Yunus), the City of Peace for Children of the World (promoted by Northern Irish laureate Betty Williams), the American Friends Service Committee, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the International Peace Bureau (the 1910 recipient of a Peace Prize), and the Albert Schweitzer Institute. The Japanese car manufacturer, Mazda, is a prime underwriter of these chinwags, and it says its corporate ethos explicitly supports world peace efforts – and, just by the way, Mazda is headquartered in the city of Hiroshima.

And, of course, inevitably, stepping right up there to take a swing, a DA spokesman, MP Stevens Mokgalapa questioned the rationale of the SA government in declining to issue the Dalai Lama’s visa. Mokgalapa noted, “The South African government showed no regard for visa regulations when hundreds of guests of. . . Zuma’s ally, the Gupta family, landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013.” Inevitably, too, there will be comparisons drawn to how Robert Mugabe and his aides are treated in South Africa, or perhaps even to how Lesotho’s Paul Tabane’s circumstances are being treated.

The larger point, of course, is about the nature and conduct of South Africa’s foreign policy. Back in the early 1990s, the late Nelson Mandela had argued forcibly for what was termed a highly moral foreign policy, given the historical and social background to South Africa’s circumstances. It is true that such an approach took something of a beating in South Africa’s efforts to draw together international disapproval of General Sani Abacha’s regime in Nigeria. But the government has continued to at least give lip service to such ideals in many circumstances, even if they have often been ignored in practice when dealing with other situations – not unlike other nations.

Increasingly, however, that element of foreign policy has been overwhelmed by presumably more parochial commercial concerns. One of the academics originally involved in formulating the formal basis for that moral foreign policy stance, Peter Vale, commented, that in thinking about the refusal yet again to allow the Dalai Lama to enter South Africa, “it’s the continuing failure to live up to the high hopes of two decades ago. The deeper question is this: what is Jacob Zuma’s foreign policy? Does anybody know? Can anybody explain it?” In snubbing the Dalai Lama (and presumably tugging a forelock towards Beijing in the process), questions like Vale’s just beg to be answered. DM

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South African Communist Party Statement, 7 September 2014

The Dalai Lama

The South African Communist Party has noted reports in the media about another planned, but subsequently cancelled, visit by the Dalai Lama to our country. The SACP in fact welcomes the cancellation of this planned visit. The aim of the visit by the Dalai Lama to our shores is to pursue his agenda of a secession from China. In fact the SACP calls upon government not to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to visit our country.

The SACP wishes, for the record, to reiterate its attitude and stance towards the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama has been relentlessly pursuing an agenda for Tibet to secede from China. As the SACP we are opposed to this, as there is only one China and that Tibet, like Taiwan, has always been part of China. In addition, China had, for decades, stood with us in our struggle against apartheid and refused to recognise the apartheid agenda to balkanise our country into a ‘white’ South Africa and several Bantustans. We similarly refuse to be associated with an agenda that is aimed at undermining the sovereignty and national unity of China.

The SACP also stands opposed to the Dalai Lama’s agenda to use the political prestige of visiting South Africa to try and legitimate his secessionist agenda. The Dalai Lama has recently acknowledged that in the 1960s he was covertly being funded by the CIA (U.S), basically in pursuance of this agenda, and had led an unsuccessful violent revolt in Tibet. It is a fact that, contrary to ideological claims by his supporters and the opposition parties, the Dalai Lama’s hands and history are not clean!

The SACP also calls upon our media to desist from disinformation on this matter and tell the South African people all sides of the story about the Dalai Lama, and not this one-sided, sanitised and biased story about the Dalai Lama. On this matter let South African media give us a break from Western imperialist propaganda!

The Dalai Lama is not a monk and spiritual leader only; he is a man with a perverted political agenda.

Issued by the SACP

Alex Mashilo: National Spokesperson
Mobile: 082 9200 308
Mobile: 060 343 1192
Office: 011 339 3621

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[ SEE ALSO Report from 2005]

Tibet part of China: Dalai Lama
By Hamish McDonald
March 15, 2005

Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, has abandoned his long-standing position calling for Tibetan autonomy, declaring Tibet to be part of China.

The shift has emerged in a series of media interviews and a statement last Thursday marking the anniversary of the failed uprising by Tibetans against Chinese occupation in 1959, when the Buddhist monk-leader went into exile in India.

The Dalai Lama, who turns 70 this year, appears to have accepted that China should control the political and economic affairs of Tibet and guarantee its culture, religion and environment.

This is a distinct shift from the plan he has proposed up to now, first delivered in a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 1988, that Tibet should be a "self-governing democratic political entity" with Beijing responsible for its external defence and foreign affairs.

The Dalai Lama has also referred to his homeland as the Tibetan Autonomous Region, the name given by Beijing to the political region that has been shorn of Tibetan-populated areas now administered as part of surrounding Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

The Chinese Government has consistently dismissed the Dalai Lama’s Strasbourg speech as "lacking sincerity" and a fitful dialogue between Beijing and the exiled Tibetan leadership has made little progress.

No response came immediately to his new ideas, expressed to a columnist at the South China Morning Post in an interview at Bodhgaya, India, the site where Buddha found enlightenment some 2500 years ago.

"This is the message I wish to deliver to China. I am not in favour of separation," the Dalai Lama was quoted as saying. "Tibet is a part of the People’s Republic of China. It is an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. Tibetan culture and Buddhism are part of Chinese culture. Many young Chinese like Tibetan culture as a tradition of China."

He said Tibet was underdeveloped and materially backwards. "So for our own interest, we are willing to be part of the People’s Republic of China, to have it govern and guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality and our environment," he said. "But we can contribute to the spiritual side of China . . . China will turn to its 5000-year history of tradition, of which Tibet is a part."

The Dalai Lama’s formal statement last Thursday was more critical of dissatisfaction inside Tibet and vaguer on his "middle way" political proposals, which he said were gaining wider support, including from "certain quarters of the intellectual circle from within China".

Unless it emerges the interview seriously distorted the Dalai Lama’s views, the changed policy will cause anguish as a surrender among many younger Tibetan exiles and their foreign supporters, which he recognised. "The Tibetan youth organisation criticises me as taking this approach out of desperation," he said. "No, it comes out of a broader interest."

But the deal he is proposing - a bargain between a Tibet needing economic development, and a China in search of spiritual guidance - is also unlikely to cut ice with China’s leader, Hu Jintao, a materialist who promotes a "harmonious society" under unchallenged communist party leadership, and has not so far mentioned a need for religion.

Many analysts believe that in the event of an agreement, Hu would be unlikely to let the Dalai Lama return to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, where he would receive adulation and potentially undermine the authority of the Chinese administration.