The International Campaign for Tibet strongly condemns China’s threat of retaliation against an American university and its Chancellor for inviting the Dalai Lama to give its commencement address on June 17, 2017.
The University of California, San Diego, had invited the Dalai Lama to its commencement this year. Some students from China led by the UC San Diego chapter of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) objected to the invitation to the Dalai Lama, but without being able to give any logical reason why he was inappropriate. On February 3, 2017, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association informed its members through a WeChat posting in Chinese that it had already contacted the People’s Republic of China Consulate General in Los Angeles and was awaiting for “instructions from the Consulate General.”
In a statement on February 6, 2017, the International Campaign for Tibet said the Chinese Embassy and Consulates should not be allowed to interfere, directly or indirectly, in the academic decisions of American universities. Following this, the Chinese students changed their narrative and denied any Chinese government instructions to them. University Chancellor Pradeep Khosla met representatives of the Chinese students, who were also allowed to hold a public information session on campus on their view of the Dalai Lama and the situation in Tibet.
In his commencement address on June 17, 2017, widely covered in the media, the Dalai Lama expressed his gratitude to the professors for their important role in society. Similarly, he gave pertinent advices to the students on how they should approach their life after graduation, including becoming warm-hearted individuals. In particular, as he has been doing in many other venues, the Dalai Lama called on the Indian and Chinese students of the University to be mindful of their rich cultural heritage and look for ways to put them into daily practice. Webcast of the speech showed that the students gathered there warmly received the speech of the Dalai Lama.
But now a state-run Chinese newspaper known for serving as a propaganda outlet for the Communist Party, the Global Times, has released an editorial (dated June 20, 2017) threatening the University Chancellor, saying: “Khosla must bear the consequences for this.“ It went on to say: “His support for Tibet independence will affect his personal and the university’s exchanges with China. Chinese universities will take cooperative programs with it into prudent reconsideration. It’s suggested that relevant Chinese authorities not issue visas to the chancellor and not recognize diplomas or degree certificates issued by the university in China.”
For the record, there is no evidence to suggest that Chancellor Khosla has been involved in any action supporting Tibetan independence.
The International Campaign for Tibet has apprised the State Department and the leadership of the Congress about this blatant threat by China against an American university for using its academic freedom and will be following up on this issue.