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German Chancellor Angela Merkel shows China her teeth over the Dalai Lama

Incitement over the reception of the Dalai Lama in Berlin and protests from Peking


By bpb-Korrespondent Joe F. Bodenstein



The German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) with the Dalai Lama in her official office in the Chancellery in Berlin. In the background seen though the window is theGerman Parliament. The spiritual leader of Tibet put the traditional white scarf around the shoulders of the chief of the German government.

Foto: Presspool


Berlin (bpb) In spite of all the protests from China, the Dalai Lama was received by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Due to diplomatic considerations, the German government spokesman described the meeting as a „private exchange of ideas". Actually, it was so far the highest government acknowledgment in Germany for the spiritual leader of Tibet, which has been occupied by China for decades. The Buddhist leader had met back on November 10, 1998 with the US President Bill Clinton in the White House.

Not all politicians of the CDU/CSU-SPD coalition thought that it was a good decision. Germany is now the latest country on a long list of hundreds of meetings and talks, which the 72-year old Dalai Lama had since 1956 during his exile in India. Most of these meetings have been accompanied by loud protests from Peking. China sees in the Dalai Lama the greatest symbol of the Tibetan resistance against China, which had annexed this Himalayan region in 1950.

The German Chancellor Merkel did not give in to these Chinese interventions. "She has shown the Chinese her teeth", was whispered in the diplomatic circles. The leadership in Peking must realize, that despite the appreciation that the German statesman has for economic giant China in the area of business relations, she is immovable as far as human rights are concerned. So it became apparent to political observers that Merkel's pleasantries during the political talks with the Chinese leadership in Peking are worth just as much as China's repeatedly proclaimed intentions to start moving ahead in the question of human rights.


China demanded Germany to forbid Dalai Lama to enter the country

China's demand on the German government to forbid the Dalai Lama to even visit Germany, was met with laughter from the public. The Dalai Lama has been traveling around the world for the last 40 years, in order to fight for Tibet's freedom and for a better life of the "Tibetans, who live oppressed in their own country". The door to such meetings at the highest levels had been opened by the Pope Paul V in 1973. Back then, the Dalai Lama was a "simple monk" on a pilgrimage, and met with the Holy Father on September 29 in Rome. From then on, more and more politicians found the courage to have official talks with the Dalai Lama and to receive him. To these politicians belonged the French Presidents Francois Mitterrand and Jacqus Chirac.

After the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama, honors and invitations have been steadily increasing. In 2006, he was travelling around the whole world from February to mid October. He had more than 40 meetings with leaderhip elites in South America, USA, Canada, Asia, as well as in Eastern and Western Europe. To this belonged a meeting with the Pope Benedict XVI on October 13, 2006 in the Vatican.


The popularity of the Dalai Lama is in danger

Despite all the successes of the Tibetans, the popularity of their Buddhist leader is in danger. The permanent traveling of the Dalai Lama as well as the business activities of his Tibet Lobby do not contribute to increase the popularity of the Dalai Lama. On the contrary. Behind the stage of appearance, people complain that the Dalai Lama has forgotten all those who stood by his side already 40 years ago, helping him and the Tibetan refugees with deeds and good advice.

The Tibetan governent in exile in India is in the meantime run in a Western and internationally successful management style. That seems to be inevitable in a modern world. In the administration, established by the Dalai Lama, the "new guard" now has the upper hand. To them belong those Tibetans, who have been brought up in villages for children in Switzerland, or who were sent as monks to the West. This new generation should be prepared for the future tasks to be done in Tibet, once it is freed from China. Unfortunately, in the meantime it is observed that often the former monks marry in the West, and the Tibetans who have been educated in Europe and Tibet have become so well used to the new lifestyle that by now they have very little left in common with Tibet and those living in exile in India.


What holds this new Tibet generation together is their 'existential insurance' in the world of the Dalai Lama. This man, who has no demands for himself personally, has to take care of a world-wide following, which has to raise the money it needs by their own efforts. In this way, the former "pilgrimages" of the Dalai Lama in Europe and America have turned into business trips. The Dalai Lama's administration can, due to the many invitations, choose and decide according to the market law of demand: whoever pays for all the travel costs and in addition makes the largest donation, their invitations will be accepted. It appears that the Dalai Lama himself knowns nothing of these methods. He is being sent by his administration constantly away on trips, and is most of the year abroad. He is booke up for engagements up to 2010.



© PROMETHEUS 124/2007

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 124, October 2007