China warns Norway over Dalai Lama visit
DHARAMSALA, April 24: China has resolutely opposed to an upcoming visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Norway and warned Norwegian leaders against meeting with the Tibetan leader.
The 78-yr-old Tibetan spiritual leader is scheduled to visit Oslo from May 7th to 9th at the invitation of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the Karma Tashi Ling Buddhist Society and the Norwegian Tibet Society to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Nobel Peace Prize.
China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said it was opposed to any country providing a platform to the Tibetan Nobel Laureate’s views.
“We resolutely oppose any foreign country providing a platform or convenience for the Dalai Lama’s splittist words and acts and oppose him meeting any foreign leader,” Reuters’ report on April 23 quoted foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying during a daily news briefing.
“Our position on the Dalai Lama is very clear, very resolute and consistent,” the report further cited him as saying.
China’s latest warning comes despite Norway’s recent overtures to mend relations with China which has remained frozen since Chinese dissident and human rights activist, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.
In February, KODE Art Museum in Bergen, Norway returned seven marble columns taken from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing more than a century ago.
It was followed by the National Library of Norway returning to China this month, a rare print of the 1927 Chinese film, The Cave of the Silken Web.
Further, the Norwegian Parliamentary President, Olemic Thommessen told the Norwegian broadcaster, NRK earlier this month that he would not meet the Tibetan spiritual leader during his visit to the country.
The Norwegian prime minister and the foreign minister have also not accepted invitations to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader. However, the Dalai Lama is scheduled meet some MPs, including members of a “Tibet Committee” in the Norwegian parliament.
Support for Dalai Lama
Harald Stanghelle, the political editor of the country’s Aftenposten newspaper, in a critical editorial on Tuesday accused Thommessen of “cowardice and temerity” for his decision to avoid the Tibetan leader, reported thelocal.no April 22.
Stanghelle also criticized a decision to refuse the Tibetan leader to enter the parliamentary buildings to use the grand Lagting hall, through the main entrance.
“Political Norway wants to force the Nobel Prize winning Dalai Lama to go through the back door when he enters parliament,” the report cited Stanghelle as having written in his article. “It is so pitiful that it could even be dangerous,” the report further quoted him.
Following Stanghelle’s article, Ketil Kjenseth, the Liberal Democrat MP who heads the Parliament’s Tibet committee, said he would defy the Norwegian leadership, if he had to ensure that the Tibetan leader enters the parliament through the main entrance.
“Unless someone refuses to let me use the door I am entitled to as a member of parliament, I’m going to take the Dalai Lama into the parliament through the main entrance,” the report cited Kjenseth as having told the Aftenposten.
A poll conducted by Norwegian daily VG showed that 6 out of 10 Norwegians are of the view that the prime minister and the foreign minister should meet the Dalai Lama while 5 out of 10 think it is cowardly not to meet him. Only one in five believe it is the right of parliamentary president to decline a meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader.
Ironically, until last autumn, Thommessen of the Conservative Party (Høyre) headed the Parliament’s Tibet committee and has been a vocal supporter of defending human rights and condemning abuse in China.