(TibetanReview.net, Apr04, 2015) – Though invited by the country’s Buddhist religious leaders, Sri Lanka is unlikely to grant visa for Dalai Lama due to it close economic ties with China, reported Reuters Apr 3. The Dalai Lama held a historic conclave with a delegation of Buddhist religious leaders from Sri Lanka in New Delhi over Mar 19-20 and the two sides suggested visits to each other to further their religious relationship.
“They can invite, but the government may not grant a visa,” the report quoted a top foreign minister official as saying, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Though Sri Lanka’s new President Maithripala Sirisena has loosened ties with Beijing and moved closer to India, the country, which is home to some of the religion’s most sacred sites, still depends on China for major development investment and loans.
“The Dalai Lama is very important. But the close relationship with China is more important and we have not changed our stance on ‘One China’ policy,” the official was quoted as saying.
The report noted that China had offered Sri Lanka over $1 billion in grants during a four-day official visit to Beijing by Sirisena the week before, underscoring how lucrative the relationship remained for the island which was rebuilding after a long civil war.
Sri Lanka’s Mahabodhi Society is inviting the Dalai Lama who had wanted since childhood to visit a temple that houses a relic of Buddha’s tooth, as well as the Mahabodhi, which contains a descendant of the tree under which the Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment.
The report quoted senior monk Banagala Upatissa as saying, “He told us that all others in the world – Christians, Hindus and Muslims – treat him well. But his own Buddhist brotherhood does not treat him well.”
He has expressed determination to get the Dalai Lama to his country somehow. “We felt saddened and disturbed and invited him to visit Sri Lanka. I hope to discuss with the government to find a solution for this. Without antagonizing China, we are trying to get him a visa as an ordinary monk and not as a state official.”
Upatissa had hosted India’s Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi during the latter’s recent visit to Sri Lanka.