Botswana has been sternly warned not to “harm such a true friend and reliable development partner in China by challenging the core interests of China and the dignity of the 1.3 billion Chinese people”. Ambassador Lin Songtian made these veiled threats during Botswana Friendship Delegation visit to China last week. Lin is the secretary general of the Chinese Follow-up Committee on Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
He has also been appointed Chinese Ambassador to South Africa. Talking about the Dalai Lama, Lin said instead of being a purely religious figure, the 14th Dalai Lama has been a head of a well-organised political group whose goal is to seek ‘Tibetan independence’. “The Dalai group has set up a ‘government in exile’ outside China and relies on financial support provided by anti-China forces in the West.
“It has carried out separatist activities and called for the creation of a ‘Greater Tibet’, which could cover nearly one quarter of China’s territory, but has never existed in history. It also demands a ‘high degree of autonomy’ in the so-called ‘Greater Tibet’, thus putting it beyond the jurisdiction of the central government. This is a thinly disguised attempt to achieve ‘Tibetan independence’,” Lin said.
He also said the United States of America-based Mind and Life Institute, the organisation which engages in planning for Dalai Lama’s visit, was created by the Dalai group in conjunction with anti-China forces in the West. In recent years, this institute has been using religion and science as a cover to help the Dalai Lama set foot in Africa, so as to gain international sympathy and expand international space for him and poison the long standing friendship and cooperation between China and Africa.
“Many African countries have seen through the charade of the 14th Dalai Lama and this institute. Recognising and respecting China’s core concern, none of them has agreed to his visit for the sake of their bilateral relations with China and traditional friendship between China and Africa.”
He explained that Tibet-related issues concern China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and touch upon China’s core interests and the dignity of the 1.3 billion Chinese people. He added that there is no room for China to compromise on these issues.
“Some years ago, a few Western countries have permitted the Dalai Lama’s visits in a deliberate attempt to use him and Tibet-related issues to make trouble for China and hinder China’s peaceful development. The Chinese government has made stern representations and took the necessary measures to safeguard our sovereignty and national dignity.
Those European countries have suffered serious setbacks in their relations with China and incurred great damage to their own interests following visits by the Dalai Lama.
In the end, they drew lessons and made serious commitments to China, both publicly and bilaterally. Botswana should not harm such a true friend and reliable development partner like China and challenge the core interests of China and dignity of the 1.3 billion Chinese people,” Lin emphasised.
l Which state buildings and other resources will be used to accomplish the mission, and what is the specific role of HE the President, his office or officials.
l What is the role of the US government, its people or agencies in the Dalai Lama visit to Botswana.
Buttressing his questions, Keorapetse said the Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Botswana in August and preparations are underway. It has caused diplomatic tension between the two countries. Parliament deserves an explanation because it can intervene on the matter.
Answers are needed as soon as possible. “If China withdraws from Botswana by August, it will mean negative effect on trade and development aid. Students sponsored here in China will have to leave and those scheduled to come, stop.
“It may affect visas to China and ordinary Batswana who buy in Chinese shops or do business in, or with Chinese people. The consequences are big because China is sensitive about Tibet and the Dalai Lama issue like South China Sea and Taiwan.
So government has to explain to Batswana critically on whether stabbing China in the back or poking the eye will serve our national strategic interests.
They have to explain why they risk so much to lose Chinese friendship. That is the question here and we need answers.”