China is putting pressure on the government of Botswana to cancel a planned visit next month by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to the southern African country.
The office of Botswana’s President Ian Khama said that the Dalai Lama is being invited to a human rights conference in the capital Gaborone in mid-August. The office added that the Dalai Lama is also scheduled to meet President Khama. At a news conference on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang opposed the visit of Dalai Lama, who seeks greater autonomy for Tibet.
China is increasing its influence in Africa by accelerating its economic expansion on the continent. Botswana’s neighbor, South Africa, defied domestic and international criticism to repeatedly deny the Dalai Lama a visa.
Botswana’s economic ties with China are also deepening as Chinese companies are investing in the country’s infrastructure, such as power plants. But Botswana’s Government is not always in favor of China. Last year, it issued a statement that insinuated criticism of Beijing over the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.