US University invites Dalai Lama, irks Chinese students

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Beijing, Feb 17: A US University headed by an Indian-origin academician has rejected call by Chinese students to withdraw invitation to exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama but assured them that his speech would have nothing to with politics.

File photo of Dalai Lama

Chancellor Pradeep K Khosla of the University of California San Diego (UCSD) met with three groups of Chinese overseas students, namely the Chinese Union, Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) and the Chinese Business Society, state-run Global Times reported on Friday. The university in a meeting with Chinese overseas students refused to withdraw the invitation to the Tibetan spiritual leader for a graduation speech in June but assured them that his speech would "have nothing to do with politics" the report said.

"The university said that they would not disinvite the Dalai Lama but will stop using words like 'freedom fighter' and 'spiritual head and leader of the Tibetan people' to describe him," Fan Da member of the Chinese Union told the daily. The chancellor promised that the Dalai Lama would not include any political content in his speech and the university would soon publish a notice about the issue.

"When we asked the chancellor if he knew that the university's invitation to the Dalai Lama hurt Chinese people's feelings, the chancellor said he only knew that the Dalai Lama is a 'religious activist' but had no idea about what he did," Fan said, adding that it was not clear what actions the students would take to continue their protests. The protests by Chinese students came after write ups in the state-run Chinese media warning overseas Indians.

"By calling the Dalai Lama "the exiled spiritual head and leader of the Tibetan people" and "a man of peace," the UCSD has shown admiration for the Buddhist monk," an article in the paper had said. "What is laughable is that the person behind the infamous invitation was campus Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, an Indian- American.

The campus website posted a photo of Khosla who met the Dalai Lama in Dharmsala, India, last October. "This shows how some Indian-Americans agitate China-India and China-US relations," it said. The UCSD announced on February 2 that it has invited the Dalai Lama to give a keynote speech at the All Campus Commencement on June 17, as well as a speech on June 16 at a public event. The university described the Dalai Lama, as "the exiled spiritual head and leader of the Tibetan people" in the announcement.

PTI

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