Tenzin   Gyatso
China

Tenzin Gyatso

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tibet

Date of Birth: 06\07\1935

Commentary: Though the Dalai Lama has recently hinted at retirement, his capacity to ruffle China’s feathers is undiminished. His lecture in Lagos, Nigeria, on 28 November 2008, passed without incident or comment from Beijing. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua scrupulously kept his distance, and the only controversial moment came when the Dalai Lama opined that sexual relationships ‘are always full of trouble’.

With key business deals on the rocks and a failed Chinese satellite (AAC Vol 2 No 1), China did not make much fuss about the visit. But the next day, the Dalai Lama spoke about a possible trip to Taiwan in 2009; when President Ma Ying-jeou promptly declared a visit ‘not appropriate’, both the opposition and members of his own party accused him of placating Beijing. The Dalai Lama is widely respected in Taiwan and visited in 1997 and 2001.

Finally, on 6 December 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy capped a poor year in China-France relations by meeting the Dalai Lama in Krakow, Poland. Beijing immediately postponed that month’s European Union-China summit. Rama Yade, Sarkozy’s forthright Minister of State for Human Rights, termed the Chinese reaction ‘un psychodrame’. Following spring 2008’s crackdown, which came after anti-Chinese rioting in Lhasa, talks with Chinese authorities went nowhere. In early November, the Dalai Lama expressed uncharacteristic pessimism: ‘I have to accept failure,’ he said.