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Why has the Chinese ambassador been called home?

That’s what I’d like to know.

The Chinese authorities, it seemed, were being remarkably silent in the few days leading up to the Dalai Lama’s visit to Iceland – in light of the usual conniptions they tend to throw whenever he goes anywhere, that is.

However, we did not have to wait long: yesterday Iceland’s ambassador to China was summoned to meet with authorities in Bejing, where he was treated to the usual lecture about their extreme disapproval, as well as various veiled threats about sanctions and whatnot. Evidently the same sorts of threats are being made against Danish and Dutch authorities – two countries that the Dalai Lama will also visit on his tour of Europe.

The most bizarre incident around this whole business, however, concerns the Chinese ambassador here in Iceland. Evidently he was called back to China yesterday, right after he had visited the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to convey the sentiments of the Chinese authorities about the Dalai Lama’s [private!] visit to Icelandic authorities.

The Chinese embassy has not made a formal announcement concerning the matter, and has not returned calls requesting information from the Icelandic media. Which leaves the whole mess open to speculation. Could it be that the Chinese ambassador has won himself disfavour among his superiors by not throwing a massive fit in anticipation of the visit?

Meanwhile, I will never, never, never understand the overbearing insolence of the Chinese when it comes to trying to control the actions of other sovereign states. Seriously, isn’t there a 12-step program for this sort of thing?

UPDATE: OK, so the Chinese embassy says he hasn’t been called home. Icelandic media jumped the gun, I guess.

TIME TO GO OUT TO CHECK THE WEATHER
It looks fairly harmless out there right now, cloudy with the sun making an occasional brave attempt to break through [unsuccessfully]. Temps 10°C [50F], sunrise this morning was at 3.18, sunset due for 11.36 here in the capital.

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  • JoeInVegas June 3, 2009, 4:05 pm

    And, like the US doesn’t try to control the actions of others? (at least we really do invade)

  • digdug727 June 3, 2009, 4:15 pm

    living in a country well-known for meddling in the affairs and trying to control other countries, i should not be throwing stones in my glass house. BUT, americans are also known for expressing their opinions, so here i go. the chinese are so tightly wound when the dalia lama is involved, they lose sight of their main focus, the advancement of china. china needs to pay more attention to the needs of it’s people and businesses, not the political irritations of a wandering religious leader. i think the DL is a great man and has an important message about peace and love. why china gets this stuck in their craw confounds me. if they treated all the chinese and all their controlling interests with equality and respect, this issue would….evaporate. i feel pity for the chinese government. they can’t stop being ‘in complete control’, because they see the alternative as being ‘completely out of control’. stupid black and white thinking.
    that’s my two cents and change. i am climbing off my soapbox now.
    doug
    austin, tx. usa

  • idunn June 3, 2009, 5:21 pm

    I read with interest your previous mention of the Dalai Lama and his visit to Iceland, and also sure the Chinese reaction has little to do with him and everything to do with their insecurity and bullying tactics. Par for the course, as witnessed in other countries, such as Denmark. If your PM, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir, had wanted to meet with him publicly she might as well have, as subtlety or common sense apparently little effect with the Chinese government.

    Withdrawing ambassadors is just political norm to demonstrate deep displeasure. What they might better do is withdraw from Tibet and leave those poor people alone. If the Dalai Lama represents peace and spirituality to many people, to the Chinese government probably only a constant reminder of something they wish everyone else in the world would forget.

    Wouldn’t worry about this. Bad behavior is just that, and in this instance Iceland has nothing to apologize for, at least to the Chinese.

  • Martin June 3, 2009, 6:30 pm

    Was’nt he popping home for the 20th anniversary Tiananmen Square celebrations?

  • alda June 3, 2009, 6:34 pm

    Heheh. Touche!

    Well, apparently it was all a big misunderstanding (or something). They now say he hasn’t been called home at all.

  • roy June 3, 2009, 7:59 pm

    F**k the Chinese and the horse they rode in on. Yep, they have the money but they sure don´t have the high ground when it comes to morals. Just mention the words Tienanmen Square and they scurry back to the sewers to fashion their response!

  • Ljósmynd DE June 3, 2009, 8:31 pm

    Currently the Chinese seem to be pretty high-strung as today is the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and they fear public actions of commemoration.

    The Chinese attitude towards the Dalai Lama himself and countries he is visiting is not only insolent but seems to be extremely stupid. The Dalai Lama is not only a religious leader but has a political mission, acting on behalf of the Tibetan people. This is not quite what I would call a democratically legitimized mandate, but as long as he lives and has an accepted authority, the Chinese should be well-advised to take the chance to negotiate, because, finally, there is no way around some kind of negotiations to stop the increasing violence. And the Dalai Lama is not demanding independence from China for Tibet but only a certain level of autonomy.

  • Guy June 3, 2009, 8:57 pm

    I´m affraid Mr. Lama lost his relevancy long time ago. He himself acknowledged that. I wouldn´t be wise to upset the Chinese for his account.

  • Nancy June 4, 2009, 2:58 pm

    Oh, let’s call a spade a spade, or rather, a tyrannical nation a tyrannical nation. I sometimes check in with mounteverest.net (had a friend summit about 15 years ago). They have stories about the Chinese that will chill you to the bone. Here’s a link to their “Year In Review” article, telling all about China’s actions leading up to the Olympics (including wholesale slaughter in Nepal). http://www.mounteverest.net/news.php?id=17884. Warning – some of the photos are disturbing. This article doesn’t even touch on the 17 year old nun they shot at point blank range in front of several climbers in 2006 (search Nangpa La nun to find that article). I’m not involved in the Save Tibet cause at all, but China is literally getting away with murder. I couldn’t watch the Olympics last year because of what I knew.

  • Nancy June 4, 2009, 7:05 pm

    Sorry, I mis-typed in my comment. The wholesale slaughter occurred in Tibet, not Nepal. Although if given the opportunity, I’m sure the Chinese would be happy to do some slaughtering there, too.