Monday, March 23, 2009

who pays the piper , calls the tune

South Africa has denied the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a peace conference . The Johannesburg conference is intended to discuss football's role in fighting racism and xenophobia. The Tibetan spiritual leader was due to attend the meeting, along with fellow Nobel laureates, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu and FW de Klerk later this week.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pulled out of the meeting in protest and branded the decision "disgraceful".
"We are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure," Archbishop Tutu was quoted as telling the Sunday Independent. "I feel deeply distressed and ashamed."

Mr de Klerk has also withdrawn from the event, while Mr Mandela's position is not clear.

A government spokesman has denied suggestions that the ban was a result of Chinese pressure. Dai Bing, an official at the Chinese embassy in Pretoria confirmed to Sapa that Beijing had warned the South African government that allowing the Dalai Lama into the country would harm bilateral relations.
Local newspaper, Business Day, quoted an unnamed government official as saying: "The Chinese government would not have been happy had we let him come... We would not do anything to upset the relationship we have with China."
South Africa is China's largest trading partner in Africa, with 2008 trade standing at 100bn rand ($10bn; £7bn).

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