Whereever I go, I do not wish to create trouble for politicians in charge. No worries. Actually, the purpose of my visits isn’t to meet politicians in charge, but to meet the public, or people. I have nothing to tell to the officials. I prefer to talk about happiness.
That’s how French daily Le Monde quoted the Dalai Lama, on September 10. Tibet’s spiritual leader did, however, have something to say to the Chinese leadership:
We don’t seek independence, we demand all the rights that are written down in the Chinese constitution.
It’s funny to be reminded that there is actually such a thing in China – a constitution.
According to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Norway-based radio station and website, the custodians of the Chinese constitution were kept busy by the Dalai Lama’s visit to France, from September 12 to 18:
His Holiness’, the Dalai Lama’s visit to France received close attention from China. A joint photo with hotel staff and the Dalai Lama, posted by a Hyatt Group Hotel, immediately met with resistance from Chinese netizens who demanded that the hotel remove the online post. Also, students at Sciences Po protested against the recent cancellation of a speech by his Holiness and emphasized “the need to respect free speech”.
Official receptions for the Dalai Lama on overseas trips from his exile in India have increasingly vexed the Chinese government, writes Radio France Internationale (RFI English service). But that is hardly accurate – efforts to isolate Tibet’s paramount monk have been part of Beijing’s policy ever since the beginning of his exile in India. And depending on China’s clout overseas, such efforts are sometimes highly successful.
The Dalai Lama didn’t get a visa to visit South Africa in 2009. A few weeks later, South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Dalai Lama could visit South Africa anytime he wanted.
Anytime, except October 2014, of course. (Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was still South Africa’s foreign minister.)
As for the protests against the Hyatt hotel welcome for the Dalai Lama in Paris, VoT writes:
There were Chinese netizens unaware of the facts, who used propaganda content that had been directed against the Dalai Lama by the Chinese Communist Party for decades. They demanded that the removal of the online photo and said that if Hyatt wanted to continue business in China, they should not actively be in touch with this “splittist element”.
Today, on September 17, [the hotel] removed the text and photo from its Facebook page.
Apparently, the Collège des Bernadins wasn’t quite that afraid of Beijing. On September 14, they hosted a meeting on inter-religious dialogue with the Dalai Lama.
(Maybe they’ve got a nice auberge for him, too, next time he visits France. He could be in need of one.)
Updates / Related
» China threats after EU Parliament visit, Reuters, Sep 19, 2016