“during the Derry visit, Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson were nowhere to be seen, surely mindful of their upcoming trade mission to China.”

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According to an Irish News report today

…OFMDFM has refuted any suggestion that the Stormont leaders snubbed the Dalai Lama when he visited Derry last month.

A spokesperson for OFMDFM said the ministers were unable to attend “due to prior diary commitments”.

Which is fine  After all, “diary pressures” was the same excuse Tony Blair gave in 2004 when he was accused of snubbing the Tibetan leader – although they had already met in 1999 in a “spiritual capacity”.  And it appears that the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers neglected to inform in advance the charity that issued the invitation.  From the same Irish News report

Children in Crossfire’s Mr Moore said he did not know why Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness did not accept the invitation.

“We never got a response so we don’t know why they didn’t accept,” he said.

But, as I mentioned when OFMDFM claimed being double-booked when ducking out of a different meeting

That’s why you have junior ministers, guys.

There is, however, another reason for the failure to attend.  And it, probably, helps to explain Irish Government ministers’ apparent absence during the Dalai Lama’s first visit to Ireland in 20 years…

That reason was identified by Adam Cathcart, lecturer in Asian history at Queen ’s University Belfast, in a detailed background article in the Irish Times on 22 April.

Countries that allow the Dalai Lama to visit are occasionally held up for scorn, particularly when civic leaders meet with “His Holiness”. Mayors in Paris as well as Portland, Oregon, have been the targets in recent years of Chinese campaigns to stop so-called “splittist” activity, which can be defined as anything from meeting with the Dalai Lama to celebrations of non-communist-approved Tibetan culture.

Accordingly, during the Derry visit, Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson were nowhere to be seen, surely mindful of their upcoming trade mission to China. [added emphasis]

Whether they’ll be any more transparent about that trip is another matter. 

But it’s not just mayors in Paris and Portland who can feel a diplomatic chill from China.  As the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has discovered after meeting with the Dalai Lama last May.  From the Telegraph report

Under a bilateral agreement, Mr Cameron was due to visit China last autumn but that visit was called off. This year it was the turn of Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, to visit Britain – but plans for that have now been put on hold.

Last month, a British trade trip to China, also due to have been led by Mr Cameron, did not take place. In contrast, François Hollande, the French president, was greeted with a 21-gun salute in Beijing recently.

Last May, China warned Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, of “serious consequences” for Britain after the private meeting with the Dalai Lama in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Sebastian Wood, Britain’s ambassador in Beijing, was summoned to the foreign ministry to receive a rebuke from Song Tao, China’s vice-foreign minister. The foreign ministry said the meeting with the exiled Tibetan leader had “seriously interfered with China’s internal affairs”. Mr Song urged Britain to take “practical actions to correct the error”.

However, the pleas were ignored, and China is now exerting public pressure on the Government to bow to its demands and make amends.

According to a BBC report

Mr Cameron’s spokesman said: “It is entirely reasonable for the prime minister to decide who he meets.

The Chinese government always lobbies hard against any meetings between foreign governments and the Dalai Lama. We have made clear in advance to the Chinese government that British ministers will decide who they meet and when they meet them.”  [added emphasis]

Asked whether the prime minister felt under pressure from Beijing to apologise, his spokesman replied: “Not pressure, no.”

Questioned over whether Mr Cameron was effectively banned from China, he said: “No. I believe the prime minister aims to go before the end of the year.”

He declined to reveal whether dates for a proposed visit had been discussed, but said: “We regularly discuss issues of mutual interest and importance with the Chinese.”

We’ll see…  And, with Patrick’s post on “China’s overseas propaganda set-up” in mind, as the NI First and deputy First Ministers have said

“We welcome our friendship with the Peoples Republic of China…”

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  • michael-mcivor

    Martin and Peter putting the six counties before a handshake with the Dali Lama-how could they-they were
    elected to get us the best deals at home or abroad-I am sure there will be plenty of more opportunitys after that conference in china to give the Dali Lama a slap in the back-

  • BIGK

    No problem for our two illustrious leaders to neglect their human principles, sure they have more faces than the town clock.

  • Alias

    Would that region of the UK even be on China’s radar? Hardly, given that foreign affairs is a reserved matter do it doesn’t have any foreign policy for China to influence.

    And while “Dalai Lama meets British Prime Minister” might be carried elsewhere as a story, “Dalai Lama meets two British regional First Ministers” won’t be.

    Still, I guess it was good of the Deputy FM to put the promotion of British national interests ahead of his supposed human rights principles even if he Prime Minister didn’t. Everybody has his price, and the Deputy FM’s price is circa one call centre.

  • carl marks

    Alias
    Certainly Martin has put mammon before his principals but has peter not done the same, strange that you can see that in one and not in the other!
    It seems that our first minister and deputy first minister can work together but only when it comes’s to slighting a truly great man in order not to offend those who raped his country,
    Good thing i don’t vote for either of these people or their parties, it means i can call them unprincipled assholes without feeling guilty!

  • sherdy

    It seems that Song is calling the tune!

  • Rory Carr

    It seems that our first minister and deputy first minister can work together but only when it comes’s to slighting a truly great man…

    “A truly great man” my Irish arse ! The last figurehead of a truly despotic, ruthless, brutal, feudal theocracy wherein, for example, ‘Drepung monastery was one of the biggest landowners in the world, with its 185 manors, 25,000 serfs, 300 great pastures, and 16,000 herdsmen. The wealth of the monasteries rested in the hands of small numbers of high-ranking lamas. Most ordinary monks lived modestly and had no direct access to great wealth. The Dalai Lama himself “lived richly in the 1000-room, 14-story Potala Palace.” ‘

    Some visitors have given us accounts of what they witnessed of this supposedly blessed land of peace and tranquility, ‘In 1959, Anna Louise Strong visited an exhibition of torture equipment that had been used by the Tibetan overlords. There were handcuffs of all sizes, including small ones for children, and instruments for cutting off noses and ears, gouging out eyes, breaking off hands, and hamstringing legs. There were hot brands, whips, and special implements for disemboweling. The exhibition presented photographs and testimonies of victims who had been blinded or crippled or suffered amputations for thievery. There was the shepherd whose master owed him a reimbursement in yuan and wheat but refused to pay. So he took one of the master’s cows; for this he had his hands severed. Another herdsman, who opposed having his wife taken from him by his lord, had his hands broken off. There were pictures of Communist activists with noses and upper lips cut off, and a woman who was raped and then had her nose sliced away.

    Earlier visitors to Tibet commented on the theocratic despotism. In 1895, an Englishman, Dr. A. L. Waddell, wrote that the populace was under the “intolerable tyranny of monks” and the devil superstitions they had fashioned to terrorize the people. In 1904 Perceval Landon described the Dalai Lama’s rule as “an engine of oppression.” At about that time, another English traveler, Captain W.F.T. O’Connor, observed that “the great landowners and the priests… exercise each in their own dominion a despotic power from which there is no appeal,” while the people are “oppressed by the most monstrous growth of monasticism and priest-craft.” Tibetan rulers “invented degrading legends and stimulated a spirit of superstition” among the common people. In 1937, another visitor, Spencer Chapman, wrote, “The Lamaist monk does not spend his time in ministering to the people or educating them. . . . The beggar beside the road is nothing to the monk. Knowledge is the jealously guarded prerogative of the monasteries and is used to increase their influence and wealth.” As much as we might wish otherwise, feudal theocratic Tibet was a far cry from the romanticized Shangri La so enthusiastically nurtured by Buddhism’s western proselytes.’ – Dr. Michael Parenti http://www.whale.to/b/parenti.html

    But here’s what His Holiness’s public relations machine has to tell us about the Dalai Lma:

    The Dalai Lama regards abortion as a sin and is against “violence to all sentient beings.” He has criticized the use of contraception and spoken out against euthanasia. He has also said that homosexually conflicts with the teachings of Buddhism but has spoken out in favor of gay rights. He opposes oral and anal sex (“the other holes don’t create life”). He also opposes sexual freedom and divorce.’

    How he squares his opposition to ” violence to all sentient beings” with the inherent inhumanity of the regime of which he was despotic overlord and his opposition to oral and anal sex with his support for gay rights, I do not know, but one suspects that he has perhaps been over-rehearsed by his CIA handlers and would have difficulty himself explaining these contradictions.

    Of course the Dalai Lama has been told by his US owners that it is no longer kosher to be seeking the restoration of the T

  • Rory Carr

    …continued

    …the restoration of the old Tibetan regime since they are now in hock to the Chinese and the Dalai Lama, ironically now little more than a serf himself, must do his master ‘s bidding.

    As for the First Ministers, while not exactly held in feudal subjection to a particular overlord, they do seem to know from where their bread is buttered.**

    **If you want to know the importance of butter in the life of a Tibetan serf during the reign of HH The Dalai Lama then I’m afraid you’re going to have to do your own research. I promise you it makes for fascinating, if horrendous, reading.

  • Harry Flashman

    Gee what a surprise Rory springs to the defence of a totalitarian, imperialist, murderous Communist state and attacks the real enemy; a geriatric monk.

    Do you get direct instructions on this sort of stuff from the Politburo Rory?

  • Rory Carr

    I haven’t sprung “to the defence of a totalitarian, imperialist, murderous Communist state …” anywhere in my above post and I challenge you, Harry, to find where I have.

    I have however challenged Western support for a totalitarian, murderous, feudal theocracy and I again challenge you to take issue with any of the examples I have given of just how barbarically vile Tibet under the Dalai Lama was.

  • Harry Flashman

    Last week it was sympathy for the “heroic” Boston bombers, the month before the “heroic” label was attached to Stalin in contrast to the “thug” Churchill, a few years ago I recall you condemning the democracy campaigners of Burma and if I’m not mistaken you cheered on the Russians in their invasion of Georgia too.

    What a strange moral universe you inhabit Rory.

  • Rory Carr

    Well at least I have not been guilty of cheering on the theocratic leader of a debased and despotic feudal state that held its citizens in slavery, harvested its young boys as sexual playthings for its favoured monks and young women as servants and sexual toys for the elite and mutilated those who showed any form of resistance. Nor have I slavishly followed the CIA line virtually canonising he who ruled unchecked over all of this.

    Now, Harry, have you anything whatsoever to say in defence of this inhuman regime and its hypocritical leader or are you just going to continue to blow wind ?

  • Harry Flashman

    Rory, it’s ok mate I understand. You hate the West, and anyone who also hates the West you’ll give a fair hearing to.

    So pederastic religious fanatics who oppress women in Afghanistan get a sympathetic pass from you because they are fighting the Yanks, but if pederastic religious fanatics who oppress women in Tibet fight your Commie friends in China you go ballistic in your foam-flecked denunciation of them.

    Pyongyang is very nice at this time of year Rory, surprised you haven’t left your downtrodden misery in the oppressive Big Bad West and moved there yet as no doubt you’ve got a kind word for the loony in charge there too.

  • carl marks

    Rory Carr
    Of course Rory you are right,
    Can we take it that the present pope is a complete shit because of what previous popes done? (Tortured a few they did, castrato choirs were all the go ) does your theory apply to everyone because if it does you will be wanting all those Nuns and priests, protestant ministers and just about everybody else with any sort of institutional history condemned.

    Well at least I have not been guilty of cheering on the theocratic leader of a debased and despotic feudal state that held its citizens in slavery, harvested its young boys as sexual playthings for its favoured monks please Rory this is about the dalai lama not the catholic church!

  • Rory Carr

    Well Harry and Carl if you both wish to continue to bury your head in the sand about the cruel,despotic nature of the feudal state over which the Dalai Lama presided as both temporal and spiritual leader then there is nothing much I can do about that.

    I have informed you of the nature of that state and pointed the way to where you can further widen your abysmally limited knowledge. The rest is up to you.

    Harry I have long written off as a hopeless case who simply sticks by his grim prejudices against all evidence but why you, Carl should bring in the red herring of the behaviour of past popes reflecting on the current pope is beyond me. If he thinks that I am maligning the current Dalai Lama for the sins of his predecessors he ought to think again for the regime which he led suffered (or rather its poor people suffered) from all the sins of its predecessors.

    You, Carl, have been taken for a ride by this duplicitous little man as have so many Bambified children of the West, infantilised by their all too ready acceptance of whatever myths are created by CIA propaganda merchants. Time to wake up. Time to grow up and face the truth.