Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Gov’t has not been frank with the nation about Dalai Lama’s visit

Not once, but twice before has Botswana Government got itself burnt over a diplomatic gaffe involving China.

In both instances, it was totally unnecessary.

All indications are that for all its human rights defects, China values its diplomatic relations with Botswana

The latest incident involved Botswana Government’s criticism of China over South China Sea.

The spat became so nasty that Botswana Government was in the end forced to grovel and eat its earlier statement.

It would seem like Botswana Government has not learnt a lesson.

Reports indicate that once again, Botswana is headed for a big collision with China.

This time it is because Botswana has agreed to host the Dalai Lama.

Botswana has attempted to skirt the issue by saying the Dalai Lama will not be a guest of Botswana Government.

That is a lame excuse to say the least.

We want to state for the record, that we see nothing with the Dalai Lama visiting Botswana.

As a newspaper we are of the view that the official Chinese attitude towards the Dalai Lama is unreasonable and unsustainable in the long term.

However we take offence with the lack of sincerity on the part of Botswana Government.

The Dalai Lama is not an ordinary human.

He is a spiritual leader with millions of followers.

But that is not the issue.

The world over, wherever he travels, he attracts attention on account of the sanctions placed on him by the Chinese Government.

Thus for Botswana to say there will be no price for the country admitting the Dalai Lama in his borders is both naïve, disingenuous and outright dishonest.

All diplomats around the world know that there is always a price to pay for defying China.

And hosting the Dalai Lama is in diplo-talk among considered among the cardinal crimes in as far as China is concerned.

We therefore call on Government to accept the Dalai Lama, but also to tell the nation what pitfalls and risks that will entail.

China is a rising super power that remains fragile, hence its fondness to recoil into nationalist rhetoric and postures every time it has to address difficult international issues.

China, as any undergraduate of international studies would know, is very prickly when any implication is made that its sovereignty is being tested.

The territorial disputes in South China Sea have put to the fore, the extent to which China is prepared to go to assert its power.

Botswana does not have what it takes to take China head-on.

Even on moral grounds, Botswana’s foreign policy has become too clouded for us to be lecturing China on such matters like human rights.

Yet another issue where China takes umbrage if it feels any signs of being undermined is on Taiwan.

China still regards Taiwan as a renegade province.

As a result, China has adopted a one-China policy, under which any country that recognizes Taiwan as an independent state would not be granted diplomatic recognition by the Mainland China.

And when it comes to this doctrine, China is steadfast. And it applies this rule equally and with no exception.

Not even the United States, the most powerful country the world has ever known is allowed any leeway to circumvent this rule.

When the Dalai Lama comes here, it will be the State that will provide him with all the necessary security.

Should anything happen to him while he is here, Botswana Government will take all the responsibility for it.

It is therefore wrong to say he was not invited by Government.

We are not saying to Government that they should keep him out.

All we are saying is to calculate the costs, be open about them and also decide truthfully if they are worth it.


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