Dalai Lama makes less of a splash in Europe
By Zhao Chen (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-09 07:54

The Dalai Lama's European trip, which kicked off on May 28, has once again caused political ripples in the barely calmed waters of China-Europe relations.

The 11th round of the China-EU Summit was hosted in the Czech capital of Prague on May 20 after being postponed by six months due to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama in defiance of China's opposition. At the summit meeting, Premier Wen Jiabao expressed China's hope that European governments would commit themselves to the avowed principle of non-interference in its internal affairs. The Foreign Ministry has also reaffirmed on many occasions the Chinese side's firm opposition to any form of contact with the Dalai Lama by European political figures.

Regrettably, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen still met with the Dalai Lama, a long-time advocate of Tibet's independence, during his stopover in Denmark. On the last leg of his European trip in France, the city council of Paris conferred honorary citizenship upon the Dalai Lama. The French capital made a similar move last year.

How come the Dalai Lama is so powerful as to make the Tibet issue - strictly an internal affair of China - touch the raw nerve of China-EU political relations so many times?

The deceptive religious camouflage, the tragic position the Dalai Lama has intentionally put himself in, his sustained hypocritical advocacy of democracy and the human rights slogans have contributed to the Dalai Lama clique's success in evoking the cheap sympathy of European governments and people in its confrontation with the Chinese central government.

It is known that the Dalai Lama enjoys multiple identities. His identity as the supreme "spiritual leader" of Tibet has long been his biggest capital to gather international space for his political survival. In a Europe that has been stamped by a long religious tradition, the religious garb of the Dalai Lama naturally enjoys great popularity among ordinary people. The Dalai Lama is well aware of this, and he always makes use of his religious background as a tool to realize some of his ulterior motives when his political activities fail to accomplish this.

Dalai Lama makes less of a splash in Europe

For instance, when Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende refused to meet him during his stay in the country, the Dalai Lama tried to explain that the meeting with the Dutch leader would be non-political, and he only wanted to share with the European public two things: human values and religious harmony.

The tragic position that the Dalai Lama has deliberately described for himself serves as his other forcible weapon to deceive world opinion. It is common knowledge that the Dalai Lama has long taken advantage of his "political exile" to solicit sympathy among Europeans. He has also tried to play the role of a spokesman of the interests of the "long-repressed" Tibet people.

Besides, the feudal serfdom long established in Tibet before he fled from the region after a failed uprising was described by the Dalai Lama clique as a sort of Shangri-la. To some degree this pandered to the European peoples' imagination of an exotic and sacred Himalayan region. As a result of such partisan projections, the Chinese central government - which helped liberate the lowly Tibetan serfs - has long been denounced as "intruders" in the land and its "saboteur".

In addition, the Dalai Lama's Buddhist philosophy and his slogans of non-violence have some resonance among a European public obsessed with post-modern psychology.

Undeniably, the materials written by the Dalai Lama on Buddhist knowledge is very popular among sections of Europeans. Very different from Christianity, Buddhist tenets have the appeal of novelty and are attractive in a Europe in the late capitalist stage with ideological diversity.

As a result, the Dalai Lama has won a high-degree of admiration from some ordinary Europeans. Also, the slogan of "peace, human rights and non-violence", which the Dalai Lama has long presented to the world, along with some biased reports by Western media, have cast the so-called Tibetan spiritual leader as a Gandhi-like saint - an image that is deep-rooted in the Western world.

However, the Lhasa riots incited by the Dalai Lama on March 14 last year and the clique's flagrant conspiracy to sabotage the 2008 Beijing Olympic torch relay fully laid bare the hypocrisy of the Dalai Lama.

Fortunately, the battle by Chinese people in European countries, especially Chinese students studying in Europe, against the Dalai Lama's clique and some irresponsible Western media has made many Europeans realize the two-faced politics of the Dalai Lama.

Yet the deliberately cultivated religious identity and his duplicity enable the Dalai Lama to still hold on to "his market" in Europe. This means the Chinese people have a long way to go in their battle to expose the nature of the Tibet independence clique.

It was expected that after last year's Sarkozy fiasco, no incumbent (rotating) EU president would meet with the Dalai Lama. However, some individual political leaders may meet him as the EU is a bloc of many nations with conflicting viewpoints on many issues.

The author is a research fellow with the Institute of European Studies affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

(China Daily 06/09/2009 page8)