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Dalai Lama slams China censorship in South Africa video chat

The Dalai Lama's absence in Cape Town for Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday was represented by an empty chair
The Dalai Lama's absence in Cape Town for Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday was represented by an empty chair Reuters/Mark Wessels

The Dalai Lama criticised the Chinese government during a live video chat with Desmond Tutu for the South African archbishop’s 80th birthday celebrations in Cape Town. The Tibetan exiled leader was unable to attend the festivities after the South African government refused to grant him a visa.


The Dalai Lama’s absence was marked by an empty chair at an event at the University of the Western Cape, where he was meant to deliver an inaugural peace lecture in line with Tutu’s birthday celebrations.

The spiritual leader poked fun at the Chinese government, saying, “Some Chinese officials describe me as a demon so naturally some fear about the demon.”

Then, raising his hands to his head to mime horns, he added, “I feel like laughing, so I immediately respond, yes, I have horns.”

The Dalai Lama said that hypocrisy and telling lies had become an unfortunate part of life in China’s communist system.

He urged its government to raise its judicial system up to the standards of international law.

Conflicts began when Jacob Zuma’s government still had not responded to the Dalai Lama's request for a travel visa three days before his planned trip to South Africa for Tutu's birthday.

Some saw the refusal as a bowing down to China, who has become a major trade partner for the African country. China has in the past tried to curb the Tibetan spiritual leader’s overseas travels, warning host governments that his visit would harm country ties.

The incident sparked a virulent reaction by Archbishop and former Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tutu, who said the current state of South Africa was "worse than the apartheid government.”



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