One of Australia’s most exclusive universities has called off a talk to students by the Dalai Lama, prompting accusations it is bowing to China which has branded the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader a dangerous separatist.
Sydney University, ranked in the world’s top 50, cancelled the June visit by the Nobel Peace laureate to avoid damaging China ties, including funding for its cultural Confucius Institute, Tibetan activists and Australian MPs said.
“As a democratic country, we should be encouraging more open and frank discussion about the current situation in Tibet, not banning the country’s spiritual leader from addressing students and staff at universities,” said Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, whose party wields the balance of power in the upper house of parliament. Prime Minister Julia Gillard was heavily criticised for refusing to meet the Dalai Lama during a 2011 visit to avoid damaging two-way trade worth $120 billion last year.
Ms Gillard this month led a trade delegation to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, with both countries agreeing to a new strategic partnership including yearly talks foreign policy and economics.