SNP face growing pressure over claims they plan to snub Dalai Lama

SNP government ministers are under growing pressure to meet the Dalai Lama during his trip to Scotland amid claims that the First Minister has bowed to pressure from the Chinese government.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie urged ministers to send out “a loud and clear message” to Beijing that Scotland condemns the human rights record in China.

The Nationalist administration on Dundee city council has already been accused of pulling out of an event for the spiritual leader today.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Mr Rennie hit out after Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted the holy leader was on a “pastoral visit” and no official meeting was planned with ministers.

“I am disappointed that the snub still stands,” the Lib Dem leader said. “We know the Consul General has put pressure on Scottish councils and the First Minister. Dundee has pulled back from the Dalai Lama’s visit and the First Minister is refusing to meet him.

“It’s not good enough. This is about making a stand on China’s human rights record, a country where 500,000 people are detained without trial and women are forced to have abortions on the orders of the government.”

A spokesman for the First Minister refused to discuss whether the Dalai Lama’s visit was raised during a meeting Alex Salmond had with the Chinese Consul General earlier this month.

“We don’t routinely discuss meetings with overseas diplomats,” he said.

He said there is “no foundation at all” to claims that the visit will be a threat to Chinese investment.

He added: “In many meetings with China we have made representations on human rights, not just in Tibet but elsewhere in China and internationally.

He said the Scottish Government has received no letters or e-mails from anyone in the Chinese government regarding the Dalai Lama.