(TibetanReview.net, Sep01, 2017) – The Dalai Lama was not scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister of Australia during his 2017 visit to the country which, in fact, already stood cancelled. However, following a warning of adverse implications on bilateral relations from China, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office has gone out of its way to reassure China that no plan existed for any such meeting.
Turnbull’s office has sought to boost his credentials on this issue by adding that he had never met with the exiled Tibetan leader during his time as Prime Minister, reported sbs.com.au Aug 30.
The Chinese warning was issued during the visit to Canberra Aug 30 by the China-Tibetan Cultural Exchange Delegation, a propaganda team using the euphemism of “promoting the Tibet Autonomous Region and a dialogue with Australia”. The delegation was said to include some ethnic Tibetans working in the Chinese government, including a 55-year-old man named Pubu, a senior member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in the Shannan Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region.
Asked whether any potential meeting between the Dalai Lama and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would harm relations with China, Wang Yanwen of the State Council Information Office has said, “It would definitely damage our relations.”
“He [the Dalai Lama] has been leading separatist activities against China since his exile, so this is not acceptable to us,” Ms Wang was quoted as saying.
The Dalai Lama had met then Prime Minister John Howard during his 2007 visit.
The Australian response is in sharp contrast with that of Botswana whose President Ian Khama had responded to even more aggressive threats from Beijing by retorting his country was not a colony of China to be dictated on who he can or cannot meet.
Also, Austria’s new envoy to India, Ms Brigitte Oeppinger-Walchshofer, has said Aug 28 that the Dalai Lama always remained welcome to visit her country and China knew the country’s position on this issue.