By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Aug. 19: The President of the tiny African nation Botswana emerged a defiant character asserting that his country will not fall prey to China’s arm-twisting. His remark that his country is “not a colony of China” is seen as a rare and outspoken stand against China with regards to the latter’s economic clout, especially in the African sub continent.
President Ian Khama said that China’s pressure dissuading him to not host the exiled Tibetan leader was an issue China did not have a say in. Khama earlier told Botswana Gaurdian that, “They (China) told me things like the ambassador may be recalled, and it would damage relations between Botswana and China that they would as China engage other African states to isolate Botswana.”
Chinese state media claimed in an article titled “More countries shun Dalai Lama as China’s economic impact grows” dated 16 August that Botswana cancelled the visit of the Dalai Lama because of a million dollar flood relief donation for the destruction caused by cyclone Dineo which hit the country in February.
The Dalai Lama who was set to visit the capital Gaborone for Aug. 17 to 19, organized by the NGO Mind and Life Institute and the Botho University had to cancel the visit at the last minute due to exhaustion on his physician’s advice to recuperate. However, the Tibetan leader said that the visit has merely been postponed and that he will visit Botswana in the near future.
In his letter to President Khama, His Holiness expressed deep admiration, respect and gratitude to him and the Government of Botswana for their unwavering principled stand to welcome him to their country, despite overwhelming pressure not to do so.
In his letter to Dr. Susan Bauer-Wu of the Mind and Life Institute, he wrote, "I was very much looking forward to visiting Botswana and participating in the Mind & Life Conference centered on discussions of Ubuntu, which is very similar to my fundamental belief that we are all interdependent and therefore need to conduct ourselves with a sense of universal responsibility. Despite my absence, I urge all of you to continue with the conference, to hold valuable discussions and publish the results. Many of you are familiar with how I think and can share those ideas with others during the proceedings."
Khama also expressed similar hopes saying, “So we assume he will make a speedy recovery and once he has recovered, he is of course welcome to come and visit Botswana,” where the Dalai Lama is a popular figure among the Batswana.