China stepped up its warning to Botswana on Wednesday over a planned visit by exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama next month, demanding the African nation respect China’s core interests.
The Dalai Lama, despised by Beijing as a dangerous separatist, is expected to address a human rights conference in the capital, Gaborone, on August 17-19 and will also meet Botswana’s president. China is a major investor in Botswana’s economy.
China has already “clearly” expressed its point of view about the Dalai Lama’s visit, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a news briefing.
“Issues relating to Tibet concern China’s sovereignty and territory integrity. We demand the relevant country earnestly respect China’s core interests and make the correct political decision on this matter,” Lu said, using stronger language than before on the issue.
“China will not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, but will certainly not tolerate another country doing anything that harms China’s core interests,” he added, without elaborating.
The Dalai Lama, who fled from Tibet into exile in India in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule, has long been at loggerheads with China, which sent its troops into Tibet in 1950.
The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, denies he is seeking independence for his Himalayan homeland. He says he is merely seeking greater rights, including religious freedom and genuine autonomy. – Reuters