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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Dalai Lama World Tour: Central American Itinerary

 Dalai Lama: Spiritual Leader of the Tibetan People
In a world tour that would put the Rolling Stones to shame the 69 year old Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the world's Tibetan Buddhists, is believed to be planning to travel to Central America in October of this year.

The San Diego Tribune quotes a member of the Mexican Tibetan community as saying that during the planned Oct 3 to Oct 8 visit, the Dalai Lama will participate in a multi-faith ceremony at the city's main cathedral which will include Roman Catholic Cardinal Norberto Rivera and members of the city's Jewish, Muslim and Hindu communities.

His October trip is also expected to take in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The sheer scope of the Dalai Lama's travels this year and the very positive reception he has received from both politicians and ordinary people alike is believed to be behind a concerted propaganda campaign by the Chinese government over the last two months attempting to lessen the Lama's obvious impact and show the world that Chinese involvement in Tibet has brought nothing but positives to the Tibetan people.

A sure sign of Beijing's concerns as to the Dalai Lama's influence is it's release in May of a "White Paper" on Tibet which attempted to counter the Dalai Lama's calls for increased autonomy for Tibet by demonstrating that the Tibetans already enjoy a high degree of political self determination.

"White Papers" historically are rolled out by Beijing when it feels particularly vulnerable to international scrutiny over a topic.

2004 has been a big year for the traveling Lama. Already he has had widely successful visits to the likes of Canada, Taiwan, Great Britain and France where he was attended not only by large audiences but numerous examples of Chinese diplomatic ire. In one instance of pettiness the Chinese threatened to cancel a sister city relationship with English city Liverpool if they offcially entertained the Lama.

There has ben one setback though. Succumbing to pressure from Beijing Moscow has denied issuing a visa to the Lama for a planned Russian leg of his world tour. According to a Xinhua report Beijing is highly appreciative of Moscow's support in banning the Dalai Lama.

Meanwhile the European Union (EU) has placed additional pressure on China by calling for Beijing to actively pursue dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives in an attempt to resolve their differences.
"In response to an outpouring of concern from European citizens about Tibet, the European Commission has issued a statement (June 15, 2004 ed.) expressing its concern regarding the situation of human rights in Tibet and also extending its support to the ongoing dialogue between Dharamsala and Beijing."