The Dalai Lama has cancelled plans to visit South Africa to celebrate fellow Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu’s birthday after the government failed to issue him a visa. From Reuters:
The Dalai Lama’s office said on Tuesday he cancelled the trip intended for him to attend Archbishop Tutu’s 80th birthday celebration because South Africa, which has had his application paperwork for weeks, had not issued him a visa on time.
Last week, China agreed to $2.5 billion in investment projects with South Africa during a visit by South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to Beijing.
South African President Jacob Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) government had come under pressure from China not to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate Beijing sees as a dangerous separatist.
Archbishop Tutu lashed out at the South African government, calling its conduct disgraceful and discourteous toward the Dalai Lama. At a news conference in Cape Town, he also criticized President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress. “Hey Mr. Zuma, you and your government don’t represent me,” he told reporters. “You represent your own interests.”
He also dismissed what he considered the government’s weak explanation for not granting the visa. “Clearly, whether they say so or not, they were quite determined that they are not going to do anything that would upset the Chinese,” he said.
Many have accused South Africa of buckling under pressure from China, which has accused the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from China and create an independent state. The Dalai Lama has said he does not favor independence but has criticized what he calls Chinese repression of Tibet’s religious and cultural traditions.