Dalai Lama Refused South African Visa

Purportedly under Chinese pressure, South Africa has denied the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a conference on fighting xenophobia and racism.  From The Irish Times:

Several Nobel peace prize laureates have threatened to boycott a conference in South Africa after Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was denied a visa.

He was to join Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu, Martti Ahtisaari and FW de Klerk, as well as Norway’s Nobel Peace Committee, at the conference scheduled for March 27th.

[…]South Africa’s Sunday Independent said his visa was refused due to pressure from the Chinese government. Embassy officials were not immediately available for comment. China has been on a major investment drive in Africa and is an important trade partner.

The Sunday Independent article mentioned above has more:

“If His Holiness’s visa is refused, then I won’t take part in the coming 2010 World Cup-related peace conference. I will condemn government’s behaviour as disgraceful, in line with our country’s abysmal record at the United Nations Security Council, a total betrayal of our struggle history,” [said Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in a letter to South African president President Kgalema Motlanthe].

“We are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure; I feel deeply distressed and ashamed,” he said.

[…]Over the past two years, South Africa has been China’s key trade partner in Africa, accounting for 20.8 percent of China’s trade with Africa, while Chinese foreign direct investment in South Africa was about $6 billion (R60bn), and South Africa’s foreign direct investment in China came to $2bn (R20bn).

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