Chinese consulate objects to Dalai Lama’s appearance at Loyola

Previous Dalai Lama appearances have been marked by protests.

By Esther Daniela Castillejo

On the eve of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Loyola University Chicago, the Chinese consulate in Chicago has sent a letter to the university protesting his appearance on campus.

The Dalai Lama is schedule to speak Thursday afternoon at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus in Rogers Park before a sold-out audience at Gentile Arena.

Loyola administrators acknowledged receipt of the letter from the Chinese consulate, but declined to release the contents of the letter.

However, the Chinese consulate in Chicago did respond to a query from Loyola Student Dispatch and released a statement.

“The Chinese Government opposes the international activities of 14th Dalai Lama in any capacity or name and opposes political and official figures of relevant countries getting in contact with Dalai in any form or name,” Patrick Wendi Cheng, the vice-consul of the Chinese consulate in Chicago, said in a written statement.

“The 14th Dalai Lama claims to be a non-violent figure. What has turned out to be ironic enough since several self-immolations were reported in the western part of China is that the 14th Dalai Lama virtually advocates such tragedies by terming them as “a sign of deep desperation” and makes use of them to smear the Chinese government, instead of discouraging those sorrowful activities,” Cheng responded.

“Therefore, the Chinese people believe that the 14th Dalai Lama is by no means a pure religious figure, but rather the mastermind of an organized political clique that has long engaged in separatist activities driven by its platform and a political exile under the disguise of religion,” Cheng wrote.

The relations between the XIV Dalai Lama and the People’s Republic of China have been very delicate since the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1950, and the continuing exile of the Dalai Lama.

As a result of the conflict, previous appearances by the Dalai Lama have been marked with protests.

Loyola has been working hard to preserve the security of the Dalai Lama during his visit, including holding several meetings with the U.S. State Department.

“Any time when you have a high-profile person there are security concerns,” said Richard Williams, Loyola’s director of special events. “We are working very close with the state department to make sure the Dalai Lama is protected and everything runs smoothly.”

Protests, nonetheless, seem to be out of sight for the day of the event, as permits to carry them have not been requested either to the city or to the university.

“We have not been notified of any [protest],” Williams said. “Anyone who wants to protest…has to apply for a permit for protest from the city of Chicago. If it were an internal group or organization, they would have to get the permit from Loyola.”

As of now it is unclear if or how the event could affect Loyola’s relations with the Chinese regarding the campus the university owns in Beijing.

Increasing animosity, violence and death marks the history of the relations between the People’s Republic of China and Tibet following the incorporation of Tibet by China in 1950.

The consolidation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 followed decades of foreign interventionism, partial Japanese occupation and civil war between the nationalist and the communist parties in the territory of the former Qing dynasty (1644-1911).

The ultimate victory of the Communist Party of China (CPC) over the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) brought about a campaign to control mainland China—including Tibet—and a cultural revolution as part of a plan to rapidly industrialize the country.

In more recent years, news of Tibetan Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire to protest the Chinese control over Tibet, and the Dalai Lama’s continual advocacy on the subject have gained attention from the media and several organizations.

“The 14th Dalai Lama verbally argues that he does not pursue ‘Tibet independence. ‘ However, he first planned the “Greater Tibet” and then resorted to “regional autonomy in Greater Tibet.” His so-called “Greater Tibet”, which accounts one-fourth of China’s land area, would cover Tibet and the Tibetan-inhabited areas of the four provinces. He and his followers even advocate expulsion of all Han ethnic people from the above-said areas, which are inseparable parts of China’s territory,” wrote Cheng, the Chinese vice-consul.

“That is one reason, among others, why it is widely believed in China that the “regional autonomy in Greater Tibet” in 14th Dalai Lama’s context is actually a disguised form of ‘Tibet independence’.”

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