By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, Nov 8: China has cancelled a scheduled meeting between the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in retaliation to the Slovakian President’s meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was in the Latvian capital of Riga to attend the 16+1 summit and scheduled to meet with the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico ahead of the summit. But Li’s entourage suddenly called off the meeting where the two leaders are to hold bilateral talks.
The Slovakian President Andrej Kiska in Bratislava had hosted the Tibetan Noble Peace laureate for a lunch meeting in the Slovak capital during the latter’s visit in October. Following their meeting, the Tibetan leader also addressed a packed audience at the National Tennis Center.
Following Beijing’s latest snub, the Slovak Prime Minister has acknowledged that the relations between the two countries are on the rocks.
“Chinese-Slovak relations had been ‘damaged’ and were in need of repair before future projects between the two countries could be pursued,” shangaiist.com quoted Prime Minister Robert Fico as saying in its report.
A long list of celebrities and world leaders have come into China’s cross hairs for interacting and meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader whom Beijing accuses of being a ‘separatist’ supporting violence in Tibet. But the Tibetan Buddhist leader maintains that he is only seeking genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people.