Dutch MPs to meet Dalai Lama despite China’s warning

16th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

An official letter from the Chinese ambassador in The Hague says an official meeting between Dutch MPs and the Tibetan spiritual leader could harm good relations between the two countries during the current economic crisis.

THE HAGUE – Dutch MPs are not going to withdraw their invitation to the Dalai Lama to visit parliament when he visits the Netherlands in June, in response to China’s warning of adverse consequences of an official meeting.  

The Dutch MPs say they will go ahead to meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader on 4 and 5 June despite an official letter from the Chinese ambassador in The Hague.

In the letter, the ambassador Xue Hanqin objects to the Dalai Lama being received by the speaker, Gerdi Verbeet, and other MPs. She argues an official meeting would not be conducive to good relations ‘in this time of economic crisis’.

Henk Jan Ormel, chair of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, who has officially received the Chinese letter, stresses MPs reserve the right to decide for themselves who visits parliament.

“We know that China is concerned about contacts with the Dalai Lama. Parliaments in other countries have had similar letters. But in a democracy, MPs themselves decide who they will meet,” said Ormel.

The Beijing government has already indicated it disapproves of the Tibetan leader's Dutch trip. The Dalai Lama last visited the Netherlands 10 years ago.

China annexed Tibet in 1950 and, nine years later, the Dalai Lama fled to India. Since then, he has been campaigning from exile for Tibet to be given greater autonomy.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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