- Title: CHINA/INDIA: Bejing expresses support for South Africa's Dalai Lama visa denial
- Date: 25th March 2009
- Summary: DALAI LAMA COMING OUT AFTER GIVING THE DISCOURSE
- Embargoed: 9th April 2009 05:34
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA8547YCE756JADAE0DQTIJC57M
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: China says foreign countries have come to realise the true nature of the Dalai Lama, as the Tibetan spiritual leader is denied a visa by South Africa, and reiterates its opposition to any country keeping official contact with the Dalai Lama.
China on Tuesday (March 24) said it supported South Africa's decision not to grant a visa for the Dalai Lama.
The Tibetan spiritual leader was denied a visa by South Africa as he prepared to join Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu, Martti Ahtisaari and FW de Klerk, as well as Norway's Nobel Peace Committee, at a conference scheduled for March 27.
South African government spokesman Thabo Masebe said the Dalai Lama's presence in South Africa was not in the country's best interest at the moment.
South Africa's Sunday Independent said the Dalai Lama's visa had been refused due to pressure from the Chinese government.
China has been on a major investment drive in Africa and is an important trade partner.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, addressing journalists at a regular news conference in Beijing, said an increasing number of foreign countries had begun to see the true nature of the Dalai Lama.
He also reiterated China's opposition to foreign countries hosting or keeping in contact with the Dalai Lama.
"More and more countries and individuals have come to realise the Dalai Lama's nature as a separatist and a hypocrite. Like I mentioned before, we strongly oppose to the Dalai Lama travelling abroad to carry out his activities. We also oppose any government of any country keeping official contact with the Dalai Lama, providing convenience and a platform for his separatist activities. We also oppose countries using the Tibet issue as a means to interfere with China's internal affairs," Qin said.
The conference was expected to use soccer as a way of fighting xenophobia and racism ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 and set up a Tibetan government-in-exile in India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
Rioting broke out last March in Tibet's main city of Lhasa after several days of peaceful protests by monks against Beijing's rule, killing 19 people and sparking a wave of violence across Tibetan areas.
Exile groups say more than 200 people died in the crackdown.
The Dalai Lama was invited to participate in the conference by Tutu, De Klerk and former President Nelson Mandela.
De Klerk said the decision to refuse the visa was a mockery of the purpose of the peace conference.
Several Nobel Peace Prize laureates have threatened to boycott the meeting.
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