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China threatens to stop investing in South Africa for allowing visit by exile Tibetan leader

President of the Tibetan government in exile, Lobsang Sangay. (Photo courtesy: CTA)
President of the Tibetan government in exile, Lobsang Sangay. (Photo courtesy: CTA)

(TibetanReview.net, Feb10, 2018) – China has on Feb 8 severely criticized South Africa for allowing a visit by the President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) headquartered in India and indicated a threat to stop investing in the country. South African leaders were said to be livid with the tone of the Chinese attack, although having not yet expressed it openly.

The visit of the exiled president of the Tibetan government in exile, Lobsang Sangay, had “undermined the political trust between China and South Africa” and would discourage Chinese investment, the dailymaverick.co.za Feb 9 cited the Chinese embassy in Pretoria as saying in a strongly worded statement.

The embassy was stated to have accused the South African government of having violated its “long-standing commitment to the One China policy”.

“It has sent a wrong political signal to the world community, and has undermined the political mutual trust between China and South Africa. It runs against the common interest of SA-China relations, and will undoubtedly discourage Chinese investors’ confidence in South Africa, undermine SA’s efforts for poverty reduction, and cause grave harm for the interest of South Africa and the South African people.”

The report said the South African government was furious with the Chinese embassy’s statement, although having not yet reacted to it officially. Privately officials are incensed that a “strategic partner” could use such threatening language against South Africa – especially after Pretoria had gone out of its way to be helpful – the report said.

Officials were also cited as saying there was nothing the government could do to stop Sangay since he was travelling on a US passport and therefore did not require a visa. Besides, he was invited to South Africa by the Inkatha Freedom Party.

But China did not seem to care, for it already knew Sangay could visit the country without a visa. The embassy was quoted as saying Sangay had “sneaked into South Africa visa-free with his US passport… with the ill intention to split China and to undercut China-SA relations.”

The report said that in an earlier interview, Sangay was on a four-day visit “to remind the South African government of the principles and values on which their Constitution and country was founded. Because of friends around the world, because of support from the international community, South Africa has gained its democracy. So it’s natural for me to come and say, hey, we need your support now as well.”

Meanwhile the CTA said in a news report Feb 9 that Sangay had attended a peace event at the Ubuntu Wellness Centre in Cape Town on Feb 8, along with Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, President and founder of Inkatha Freedom Party, lighting with him a peace torch symbolising peace in Africa, Tibet and the world. The event was stated to have been organised by Ian MacFarlane from the Friends of Tibet, South Africa.

Those who attended the event were stated to include IFP parliamentary Caucus Chief Whip Narend Singh MP, Deputy Whip Liezl van der Merwe MP, Caucus Chairperson Inkosi Russel Cebekhulu MP, Party’s Deputy President Inkosi Elphas Buthelezi MP, and National Chairperson of the IFP Youth Brigade Mkhuleko Hlengwa MP, and the CTA Representative in the country Mr Ngodup Dorjee.

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