According to the Chinese embassy in Pretoria, hundreds of locals and members of the Chinese community in South Africa on Thursday staged a protest against a planned speech by the visiting Lobsang Sangay, the so-called “president” of the “Tibetan government in exile,” to the law faculty of the University of Stellenbosch. Slogans on banners including, “One China Policy,” “No Damage to China-South Africa Friendly Relations” and “Stop splitting Tibet from China,” were on display.
Since 2009, South Africa has denied the Dalai Lama a visa three times. Sangay entered South Africa visa-free with his US passport. But his entry and planned public activities sparked strong local opposition. They said allowing Tibetan separatists’ activities in South Africa would harm China-South Africa cooperation and undermine their own interests.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa. The majority of South Africans and the Chinese community in South Africa hope to see the continued improvement of bilateral ties. They don’t want the Tibet question to disrupt the good momentum of bilateral cooperation.
Tibetan separatists have been increasingly marginalized in the international community. An important reason is that a growing number of overseas Chinese and local people have realized the ill intentions of the Dalai group, and have become a crucial influence against attempts for Tibetan independence.
The Dalai group is trying to split Tibet from China. Any act that can be interpreted as endorsing Tibetan separatism, such as officially hosting the Dalai Lama or other separatists, runs counter to the one-China principle. It will jeopardize political ties with China and further affect economic cooperation.
People who have benefited from a sound relationship with China are unwilling to see this scenario. Their opposition to separatist activities by the Dalai group is not imposed by China, but spontaneous and legitimate.
In Western rhetoric, the Dalai Lama and Tibetan separatist elements are suppressed due to “pressure” from the Chinese government. But as China expands cooperation with various countries and witnesses an increasing international influence, it’s inevitable that more and more people will support the good momentum of cooperation and oppose any sabotage activities, including Tibetan separatist activities. The West is hyping China’s imaginary “sharp power.” It’s a result of their prejudice and vigilance against China’s rising international influence.
With China growing stronger, its policies and principles will gain more support and its determination to defend the one-China policy will win more respect in the future. The Western elites and media should correctly understand the deepening interaction between China and the world.