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Is China interfering in Africa's affairs?

Africa HYS team | 12:22 UK time, Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, has cancelled a trip to South Africa for the 80th birthday celebrations of fellow Nobel Peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama back in 1996  

The South African government has denied it was under pressure from China to block the visit, though a visa for the trip was never issued.

But the archbishop has criticised the government for "kowtowing to Chinese pressure". 

The Dalai Lama was welcomed into South Africa during Nelson Mandela's presidency, but more recently has been denied entry as relations between China and South Africa strengthened.

A joint statement by the Office for Tibet in South Africa and the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre described the treatment of the two Nobel Laureates as "profoundly disrespectful". 
Do you think the Chinese are interfering too much in Africa's affairs? What is more important, the Dalai Lama's visit or Chinese investment? Is the relationship between Africa and China changing?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Tuesday 4 October at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published.


  • Comment number 1.

    since he is just a Buddhist monk, why meeting so many politicians and officers during his trip to a country?

  • Comment number 2.

    Of course the Chinese are interfering in the internal affairs of South Africa and, no doubt, the internal affairs of other African countries. It is part of a pattern of interference that they engage in in throughout the world including the UK. (Ask Asia House about the Chinese Embassy asking them to cancel a talk/film about a Tibetan lama.) What's more they have been doing it for years.

  • Comment number 3.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] I am currently in South Africa but am studying in the UK for my PhD. I have an interest in this topic...

  • Comment number 4.

    Of course China put pressure on the South African government. What is worse is that South Africa bowed to the pressure!!! It is an absolute travesty that the SA government deliberately dilly-dallied issuing His Holiness with a visa to attend Archbishop Tutu's 80s birthday. We in South Africa are furious, sad and appalled!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Not at all. This is more a case of the West trying to interfere in China's internal and external affairs with yet more groundless allegations and innuedo.

  • Comment number 6.

    Everybody and every nation around the world does interfere with Africa's affairs one way or the other. So what's the big deal about China? Relationships between nations change all the time, either for good or for bad and life goes on. Investment or Visit? hhmm...I'll let the South Africans decide that..cheers

  • Comment number 7.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]I have lived in Africa since 1995. I see the African Political corruption, and Greed of Chinese Government make the masses of Africa and their future generations poorer.

    No country does favors without its own benefit BUT China is blatant and i believe ready to bribe officially.


  • Comment number 8.

    If SA is really interested in the Tibet Spiritual leader for any reason, the Chinese cannot stop them. The fact of the matter is it is not clear what this man really stands for in this day and age and I am not sure Africa really needs him.

  • Comment number 9.

    This is subtle bullying by China and a blatant abuse of economic power, whatever both governments say, or don't say. Dalai Lama's visit was never meant to be a political visit but a social call on a fellow nobel peace laureate on the occasion of his birthday. The ANC, with its history of fighting oppression under apartheid, should be infinitely ashamed at the irony

  • Comment number 10.

    Mr.Tutu himself should stay away from politics..He wants attention every where..he must stop this if he is real spiritual leader.

  • Comment number 11.

    Unfortunately, yes it is interfering like everyone else in the West.

  • Comment number 12.

    yes they are indirectly ruling us because of the dependant nature of some of our leaders they should do something about it be it's too late

  • Comment number 13.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]China's activities reminiscences of days of colonialism in Africa. Its activities are increasingly becoming worrisome and can undermine sovereignty of African states esp South Africa now.Tutu, you r right to condemn it, go ahead.

    Mapuor Malual Manguen,
    Kampala International University

    Kampala, Uganda

  • Comment number 14.

    I find it astounding that African countries who are against so called "Imperialist" ambitions from Western nations are so willing to welcome the Chinese with open arms.

  • Comment number 15.

    Typical one sided BBC reporting. Why did Desond Tutu not fly to the Dalai Lama if he was so interested in celeberating this Birthday? oh I forgot because no country would allow their territory be used for an obvious political stunt.

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't think china is interfering in Africa's affairs, unlike
    I believe China is doing all it can to help impoverished
    African Countries recover to 21st century development
    and to also maintained their relationship with all African

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    brasil russia india CHINA S.AFRICA (BRICS)

    I'm not sure I'd label it interfering, more so Mutual Cooperation. No different to how another super power threatens to retract aid if its government doesn't act in accordance to its wishes.

  • Comment number 19.

    I am deeply disappointed by the shoddy action our SA government has taken to deny Dalai Lama visa. The ruling party has lost its moral fortitude and gave in to China's bullying tactics. This episode is another indicator that we have a bankrupt leadership epitomised by Jacob Zuma

  • Comment number 20.

    Another example of african inability to run their affairs. They need someone to tell them what to do. First, it was the Europeans, then the Americans and now the Chinese.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Who is not interfering in Africa's affairs? Nobody! China is just doing what other countries had been doing. As a beggerly continent, donors are bound to dictate on Africa.

  • Comment number 23.

    any spiritual Leader must stay away from world politics..the cause of involving politics,can back fire & will have a problem for the peace of the world..The Leader of religion must be quieter all the time.please care for it deeply..

  • Comment number 24.

    Oh please...one does not have to be a rocket scientist to connect the dots of the past and present to see that the refusal of a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama is financially and politically motivated. It would be less embarrassing if the ANC would admit that money is talking louder than their equality and freedom cry for all. Bishop Tutu's anger hits the nail right on the head.

  • Comment number 25.

    yea they are . becasue why cant Dalai lama come to south Africa .african dont interfer with their goverment or who go out or not from their contry . this just show .how our african govt let other countries controll them

  • Comment number 26.

    At the end of the day, the South-African government have to consider their own economic interests with China. They are a member of BRICS together with Beijing and have a lot riding on their economic ties with them. If the Dalai Lama's visit to Cape Town threatens ties, why risk it?

  • Comment number 27.

    It depends on what you mean by "interfering" - China may look at it as "protecting China's interest". The African countries have the option of not allowing China or any other nation "interfere" in their affairs.

  • Comment number 28.

    The problem isn't that China is interfering, the problem is that alot of our so called leader and ministers profit greatly from the realationship with China personally...

  • Comment number 29.

    If South Africans start selling their soul for crumbs Chinese throws at them; then they are dishonouring those who fought for freedom. Well; ArchbishopTutu has summed it up and I total agree with him. The ANC leadership have to make their stand clear. This is the worst blunder for a nation that knows how terrible racism is.

  • Comment number 30.

    There is no doubt that Zuma will pay for it; in the next election. I am hopeful that South Africans will take note of this. This is a stain no soap can wash off their hands. He can't bury his head in the sand and pretend as if he does not know. Shame on you!

  • Comment number 31.

    I think South Africa is presently worse than the apartheid day,and also a wake up call to the whole of the Africa continent to have the so called super powers to enslave us indirectly.

  • Comment number 32.

    Yes it is. Just as the West interferes in our affairs. Two evils do not make a right. Let us be and prosper!

  • Comment number 33.

    Yes China is interfering indirectly through the economic power they enjoy at the moment. The west is broke, and as Africa looks at China who have the money at the moment economic or trade ties come first before any other considerations

  • Comment number 34.

    Rather than questioning China's role or South Africa's why not question what is exactly Dalai Lama's motives? Is it really to celebrate Tutu's birthday?

  • Comment number 35.

    So just who is caving in Auntie? SA isn't the only one who is scared to speak straight about "alleged oppression by the Chinese government". Alleged?

  • Comment number 36.

    Is China interfering in Africa's affairs?

    Yes. And not just Africa but elsewhere too!

  • Comment number 37.

    As others have said already, it is difficult to see any other likely cause for the failure to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama, whatever his age or perceived status in the world. China, like other nations beforehand, harbours expansionist ambitions, and is not afraid to use its commercial power to 'bend' newly-emerging democratic (or for that matter other more despotic) regimes to its will.

  • Comment number 38.

    Yes, China is now the new 'colonial power' to join the rest especially from the west. In the case of Africa, the trend has not stopped of having other 'super powers' meddling in Africa's business and dictating how things have to be done.

  • Comment number 39.

    Perhaps the ANC should declare their sponsors, then the truth will be seen.

  • Comment number 40.

    Q. Is China interfering in Africa's affairs? A.Yes

    Q.Is the UK interfering in Africa's affairs? A. Yes


  • Comment number 41.

    Of course.

  • Comment number 42.

    Obviously, it's the labels "China" and "Dalai Lama's absence"- not his presence, and especially the combination of them two have attracted so much attention, particularly from the media.

  • Comment number 43.

    But what can we do about Chinese interference?We need their cheap goods,economic might,etc.So we accept their disgusting values as we do those of oil producing tyrants,to maintain our business Gods.We are as interfering and contemptible as they are.So we sell arms to murderous regimes,and buy toys off slave driven economies.Our masters(bankers,politicians,Murdoch) say it must be done.So we do it.

  • Comment number 44.

    South Africa and its sad parody of a government has to realise that they do not need Chinmese 'investment' just as the Greeks in the 80s eventually realised they did not need USA 'investment. Like the UK and USA, however, South Africa, my Rainbow nation, is ruled by lies and greed.
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 45.

    if he not seek for support from other world leaders - greedy evil China will eat him and his people alive without evidence :-)

  • Comment number 46.

    Of course China is interfereng in South Africa as it does everywhere else. It's high time time world them where to get off.

  • Comment number 47.

    Of course China are interfering because issues relating to Tibet are a matter of China's internal security. If you want to talk about interfering in other countries affairs and politics, just look at the Americans...

  • Comment number 48.

    It will be naive to believe that the Chinese influence has not been a major factor in the denial of the Dalai Lama's visit. There is no such thing as benign investment. All investments come with strings attached. But - do the politicians engage with foreign investors for the good of the country or themselves?Voters beware!

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    It is not surprising that S. Africa government would not want the the Dalai Lama's visit as his visit to S. Africa has many political implications to China.

  • Comment number 51.

    The Chinese interfere in many countries affairs & they are especially venemous towards the Dalai Lama whom I have met & admire. The Chinese would like control
    the African nations as they have Tibet. I have seen evidence of that when I was in Tibet in 1995. They also want the resources in Africa.
    Michael Clarke.

  • Comment number 52.

    Why would the West blame it on China? Blame it on Dalai Lama who is just too political to be a humble monk, and South Africa is right to ban him from entering to their peaceful country.

  • Comment number 53.

    Not at all, China is trying to play its international role as an advocate of economic development by engaging in trade and development in Africa for mutual benefit, thanks the sleeping has awaken and she is waking Africa states too.

  • Comment number 54.

    I have lived in two different countries in Africa but still reside in one but also I have traveled across Africa so I promise you China has conflicting interests in Africa. They just do not come and build roads,etc.. because they actually care about Africa!

  • Comment number 55.

    Politicians under monk's robe, what else would you expect? The big fuss made by these 2 folks is truly political. What a joke!

    Both are doing it for their personal fame and nothing else, an outcome of mixing religion with politics.

  • Comment number 56.

    At least they are not bombing Africa


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