By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, July 14: The Chinese government today warned Botswana over the scheduled visit of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and advised that the administration could ‘correct’ its decision of hosting the exile Tibetan spiritual leader.
The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit the African nation to participate in a 3-day Mind & Life Dialogue on Botho/Ubuntu from August 17-19. He will also have a public talk organized by the Mind & Life Institute to be held at the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Center on August 19.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, “We hope the relevant country can clearly recognize the essence of who the Dalai Lama is, earnestly respect China's core concerns, and make the correct decision on this issue.”
The spokesperson, his daily news briefing, also accused the Dalai Lama of using his position as a spiritual leader to engage in ‘separatist activities’.
President of Botswana, Ian Khama is expected to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader and his administration confirmed that they would be extending the normal courtesies for visiting dignitaries.
“His Excellency (President Khama) will meet the Dalai Lama when he is in Botswana,” his office said in the official statement.
As expected, Beijing has used its business ties as its means to block the visit. China is one of the largest investors in Botswana’s economy with contribution extending to building of coal-powered power plants, road networks, bridges and schools.
Botswana’s neighbor South Africa has repeatedly denied visa to the Nobel Peace Laureate to appease Beijing and to gain favors from China. The Dalai Lama was denied visa to attend the 14th world summit of Nobel peace laureates in 2014 in South Africa and consequently the summit was cancelled. The denial of visa also drew heavy criticism from archbishop Desmond Tutu and others.