Seoul (AsiaNews) - Chinese delegates taking part in the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) conference in South Korea left the venue in protest against Tibetan participation, organisers said. The Chinese government thus confirms its desire to crush Tibet even from a religious point of view, using diplomatic and economic blackmail to prevent Tibetan representatives from attending important international events.
The 17 Chinese monks and officials invited to the conference returned home two days before its end on Friday. A spokeswoman for the organising committee said that she had asked the three Tibetan delegates to leave. "The WFB secretary-general accepted the Chinese demand that the Tibetans leave so the meeting could go smoothly," a decision she calls "embarrassing". However, the three Tibetans are still taking part in other events at the five-day conference whilst the Chinese left South Korea on Wednesday morning.
About 400 delegates from some 30 countries are taking part in the biannual event in the southern city of Yeosu. Such conferences are held to allow Buddhists from around the world to discuss issues of doctrine that might be addressed in distinct manners in the various countries with substantial Buddhist communities.
China's decision was almost expected when it became known that the South Korean government had granted a visa to Samdhong Rinpoche, a former prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile.
Although the Dalai Lama has never visited South Korea, Seoul has on several occasions called on China to grant Tibetans "justice and religious freedom". At present, Tibetans in China are caught between Han immigration and Beijing's repressive policies.
"This way of doing things is nothing new," a Tibetan source told AsiaNews. "China still hopes the world might forget and abandon us. Every time a Tibetan takes part in an international forum, they protest. However, as we speak, the Dalai Lama is on a tour of Europe, which goes to show that their efforts are hollow."