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<-Back to WTN Archives Dalai Lama visit sparks diplomatic row
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

2. Dalai Lama visit sparks diplomatic row

By Matthew Allen in Zurich
Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A visit this week by the Dalai Lama to Switzerland, which will include a
meeting with the interior minister, Pascal Couchepin, has angered China.

The Chinese embassy in Bern told swissinfo that it opposes the meeting,
accusing the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetans, of engaging in
"anti-China activities" under "the cloak of religion".

The Dalai Lama will deliver an eight-day series of Buddhist teachings in
Zurich and is expected to meet Couchepin at the Federal Institute of
Technology on August 4.

"The Dalai Lama is not a pure religious figure but a political exile, who
has long engaged in activities of splitting China and undermining the
national unity in the cloak of religion," said the Chinese embassy.

"The Chinese government firmly opposes any anti-China activities of the
Dalai Lama or his followers in any country aimed at separating China, as
well as any invitation extended to or meeting with the Dalai Lama by
official figures of any country."

Thorny issue

The interior ministry defended the planned meeting with Couchepin, pointing
out that former cabinet ministers René Felber, Flavio Cotti and Ruth
Dreifuss have previously met the Dalai Lama - in 1991, 1995 and 2001

"Switzerland considers the Dalai Lama the spiritual leader of the Tibetan
Buddhist community," said spokeswoman Katja Zürcher. "As such, he is being
met by cabinet minister Couchepin."

Zürcher said the Chinese authorities had communicated their concerns in
relation to the planned meeting. "The Swiss authorities are in regular
contact with their Chinese counterparts in order to explain our position."

It is not the first time Switzerland has clashed with Beijing over the
thorny issue of Tibet, with Chinese President Jiang Zemin dressing down
Dreifuss in 1999 following a pro-Tibetan rally outside the government
buildings in Bern.

Couchepin became the first Swiss minister to visit Tibet in October last
year. During the trip he called on the Chinese authorities to respect the
rights of Tibetans.

Swiss schedule

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 30
years later for opposing violence during his struggle to liberate Tibet from
Chinese control.

He will teach at Zurich's Hallenstadion from August 5-12. He is also due to
attend an inter-religious meeting in Einsiedeln and symposiums on
neuroscience at Zurich University and on "Fear and Anxiety" at the Federal
Institute of Technology.

Tickets are on sale to the general public with profits going to charity.

Articles in this Issue:
  2. Dalai Lama visit sparks diplomatic row
  3. Capturing the Dalai Lama's spirit
  4. 7th Inter-legislature Dialogue with US Held
  5. Orchid Capital: Talks With Tibet Government Continue
  6. The Plunder of Tibet's Treasures
  7. When will Dalai Lama next visit Tuva?

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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