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Dalai Lama cancels visit to South Africa

By Ernest Dempsey     Oct 5, 2011 in World
Johannesburg - Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has cancelled his visit to South Africa due to non-issuance of visa in time, thought to have been influenced by China.
The Dalai Lama was expected to participate in the celebrations of Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday on Friday, October 7, as reported by the BBC News. He was to leave for South Africa on 6th October but the required visa had not been issued for his trip till October 4, causing Dalai Lama to cancel his trip. A statement from Lama’s office in Northern India told that they were convinced that the South African government was not finding it convenient to issue a visa to the Tibetan leader for whatever reasons.
Archbishop Tutu resented the failure of the South African government in issuing Dalai Lama visa for the planned trip. In a nationally viewed conference, he called the South African government “worse than the apartheid government” for this failure.
The possible reason for non-issuance of a visa to Dalai Lama is political/diplomatic pressure from the Chinese government, as expressed in a post in Irish Times. The post points that China considers Dalai Lama a “dangerous separatist” and has pressured South Africa into stopping the Tibetan leader from entering its borders by capitalizing on the increasing economic benefits that South Africa now derive from China. Just last week, China made an investment agreement worth $2.5 million with South Africa.
However, South African foreign ministry has denied the allegations that China pressured the country from granting a visa to Dalai Lama, although the foreign ministry’s spokesman made no further comments on the issue. According to New York Times, South African officials say that normal procedures were followed in the case of Dalai Lama’s visa application.
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