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Political storm over Dalai Lama’s Lambeth invitation: CEN 5.23.08 p 4. May 22, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, British Foreign Policy, Buddhism, China, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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THE GOVERNMENT’S decision to receive the Dalai Lama at Lambeth Palace rather than at 10 Downing Street has spawned protest from Tibet activists and criticism the government is appeasing China.

The exiled spiritual and political leader of Tibet began an 11-day tour of Britain on May 20, but will only meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown on May 23 at a reception at Lambeth Palace, prompting shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague to tell The Times that Gordon Brown “should be prepared to meet all leaders in Downing Street.”

Former Liberal-Democratic leader Sir Menzies Campbell also noted there was “no reason” why the Prime Minister should not see the Dalai Lama “at No 10.” The “suspicion must be that he is responding to the Chinese Government,” he said.

Controversies over Western governmental cowardice in the face of aggressive Chinese lobbying have followed the Dalai Lama as he toured Europe this month. His May 19 meeting in Berlin with German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul prompted a war of words within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet between those keen on pursuing cordial relations with Peking, and those supportive of the Dalai Lama’s calls for democracy and freedom in
Tibet.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier declined to meet with the Dalai Lama and criticized his cabinet colleague’s actions. A government memorandum leaked to the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that China’s foreign minister warned that his country’s good relations with Germany could be jeopardized “through reckless actions.”

Chinese embassy spokesman Junhui Zhang told German broadcaster ARD his government was “absolutely against” any meeting between the Dalai Lama and European government leaders.

Meeting the Dalia Lama at a reception where he is the guest of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and not the Dalai Lama’s host, will insulate the government from China’s official wrath, analysts note, as the meeting will be between spiritual leaders rather than political leaders.

Anne Holmes, Acting Director of Free Tibet Campaign urged the government to reconsider its decision. “By meeting the Dalai Lama at Lambeth Palace Brown has signalled his determination to appease the Chinese government,” she argued.

“The overwhelming message from Tibetans during recent protests inside Tibet was for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, showing that he is still considered the legitimate voice of the Tibetan people and that he holds the key to a lasting negotiated settlement,” she said.

A spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams declined to comment on the circumstances leading to the Dalai Lama’s invitation to Lambeth, but noted that several British
religious leaders had been invited to the reception.

Comments

1. Dr. Irene Lancaster FRSA - May 22, 2008

What a pity that the British government is proving cowardly, yet again.Good that he is being received by Lambeth Palace.


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