New Zealand PM will not meet Dalai Lama


Wellington : New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will not meet the Dalai Lama during his scheduled visit to Auckland next month, a spokesman for the trust organising the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader’s programme said Wednesday.

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“There can be only one reason for that, and that reason is China’s political and economic influence in New Zealand either directly or indirectly,” Neil Cameron of the Dalai Lama Visit Trust New Zealand said in a statement.

“The issue of human rights abuses in Tibet by China no longer concerns New Zealand governments.”

Cameron said the prime minister’s decision was disappointing but not surprising.

“We have entered a period of time when China wields significant influence over the economies and internal policies of many nations around the world and New Zealand is no exception.

“The prime minister may or may not have been pressured by Chinese officials or agencies over the visit, but direct and vocal pressure would have been applied if the invitation had been accepted.”

Cameron said Chinese newspapers in Auckland had refused to run paid editorial or advertisements promoting the visit, “so this pressure is applied in a number of spheres even before His Holiness arrives, it’s the reality of China’s political presence in New Zealand.”

He said Phil Goff, leader of the opposition Labour Party, had accepted an invitation to meet the Dalai Lama, who is scheduled to speak in Auckland Dec 6, during his visit.

The Dalai Lama lives in India heading a government-in-exile that is not recognized by any country.