First off, can I point out that it’s easy to say the right thing when you’re not the one facing the consequences. But when you’re the one running the country, it’s not smart to piss off one of your major trading partners for the sake of one individual who thinks he’s god. Foreign policy has never been about doing the right thing or fighting for the underdog. It’s about doing what is in our best interest. How will granting the Dalai Lama a visa benefit SA in tangible terms? It doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out why Zuma is refusing to give the Dalai Lama a Visa. Tutu can play the saint all day long, he has nothing to lose, only favours to gain. It’s a different story when you have to answer to why your country suddenly lost a big portion of its bilateral trade with one of the foremost economic powerhouses in the world.
Let’s talk about the Dalai Lama now, who’s really just a guy born at the right place and the right time. I don’t believe in any of this divine being nonsense so to me, he has very little claim to Tibet. If you look at the average Tibetan youngster, they use phones, listen to music, browse the internet and play games. They don’t want to become monks and lead nomadic lives the way their ancestors did. They want what the modern world has to offer – gaining independence takes away all of that and puts them right back to the stone age.
Tibet is extremely poor because of its geo-location. Farming is hard, transportation is treacherous…there’s very little going for it other than their yaks. Having said that, the Chinese government has given Tibet roads, an airport, jobs, food, water & electricity, etc. The BASIC needs. Sure, freedom of speech is important, but I don’t think it is more important than food and water. Give a really poor man a choice between Facebook or a good meal, I bet he’ll choose the latter every single time.
The point is, having China’s influence and its resources meant Tibet is no longer this extreme, horrible place. There are about 150k refugees out of a population of 6m. Compare that to the 50 m Afghan refugees or the 2.5 m Iraqi refugees that fled their country because of the US invasion, China doesn’t look too bad all of a sudden.
The independent Tibet dreamed by the Dalai Lama would be a theocracy where religion governs life. That, coupled with its harsh environment would make Tibet backward and isolated. I can’t imagine how the quality of life could increase without China’s hand in this.
My point is SA need to calm their socks about this Visa thing. People get denied Visas all the time. Losing billions of trade is the more concerning issue.