Verdict says S African govt's failure to give Dalai Lama a visa was unlawful
China on Friday opposed a court's ruling saying the South African government acted "unlawfully" in failing to give the Dalai Lama an entry visa last year, saying that Beijing is against the provision of platforms by any country or any person to his separatist activities in any form.
"The Dalai Lama is not a religious person, but only a political exile who has long engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion and has never stopped such activities," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news conference.
Hong was responding to the South African Supreme Court of Appeal's verdict about the Dalai Lama's abortive trip to the country for Archbishop Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday celebrations from Oct 6 to 8, 2011.
The Dalai Lama eventually delivered a lecture at the celebrations via a video link.
The court found no evidence that the government had actually made a decision not to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, based in India, but it criticized then home affairs department minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for "unreasonably delaying her decision" on issuing it.
Judge Robert Nugent acknowledged that pressure from Beijing, a major trading partner with South Africa, played a part in the delays, said the Guardian.
But Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for South Africa's Department of Foreign Affairs, denied there was any pressure to block the Dalai Lama's planned trip at the invitation of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
He said South African officials had only received a completed visa application on Sept 20, 2011, and it was "subjected to the normal visa application processes".
Experts said it is impossible for South Africa, a country highly governed by law and democracy, to bow to any party's pressure when dealing with its affairs.
Zeng Qiang, an expert on African studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the South African government just followed its domestic rules and international norms on visa procedures and the Tibetan issue.
Two opposition parties in South Africa — the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Congress of the People — initiated the legal appeal regarding the Dalai Lama's abortive visit.
Yang Lihua, a researcher on African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing would not do anything to hamper the close China-South Africa ties or infringe its comprehensive strategic partner's interests.
China and South Africa, its biggest trade partner on the continent, are now fellow members of the BRICS economic group. The trade volume between the two countries was up a whopping 77 percent in 2011, compared to the previous year.
The core of the problem is that some civil organizations and people in South Africa have not known enough about the Dalai Lama's reactionary nature and the unprecedented development that has taken place in the Tibet autonomous region over the past decades, Yang said.
"If they had been to Tibet, I believe their stance toward the Dalai Lama would have totally changed," she said.
Border issue with India
Meanwhile, Hong said China is ready to find fair, reasonable and suitable solutions to border issues together with India, ahead of an upcoming China-India meeting on the topic.
He made the remarks when asked to comment on an informal dialogue on special border issues to be held next week in China between Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Shiv Menon, Indian national security adviser. Hong said reports from the dialogue will be released at a proper time.
"On the basis of friendly and fair negotiations, mutual respect and understanding, we should keep pushing the border talks forward," Hong said