The University of California San Diego (UCSD)’s invitation to the 14th Dalai Lama to address graduating students at the commencement in June was met by angry online protests by Chinese students.
One Chinese student said in a Facebook post, “I am disappointed with the fact that our school invites a political figure while ignoring the controversy behind him.”
The Dalai Lama is a separatist who wants to split Tibet from China. He fled into exile in Indian in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
According to the Global Times, the West has long mystified and romanticized Tibet, and has made the Dalai Lama into a Nelson Mandela-like figure.
Allegedly, the Dalai Lama is being used by the West to create trouble for China. The former denied initiating violence and said he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet, Reuters reported.
“The storyline of historical events in Tibet in Western textbooks differs greatly from the truth of Tibet. Nonetheless, it is not easy to correct Western misconceptions about the region,” the Global Times added.
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the newly appointed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he would continue to encourage dialogue between Beijing and representatives of the Tibetan government-in-exile and the Dalai Lama, but was met by yet another opposition by the Chinese government.
“It is impossible for the Chinese government to ‘have a dialogue’ with the illegal group that is aiming to split China, and Tillerson’s remarks show he is a ‘complete amateur’ on Tibet-related questions,” said Zhu Weiqun, head of ethnic and religious affairs committee of the top advisory boy to China’s parliament.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at UCSD has already filed a complaint to the university. They also reached out to the Chinese consulate general in Los Angeles.
The association hopes that the US and its institutions like the UCSD learn Chinese history first to better bilateral relations instead of pointedly working at odds with China’s concerns.
UCSD is a top Western academic institution, being one of the top 15 research universities in the world. It is recognized for its contributions to the public good.