The Dalai Lama gestures before speaking to students during a talk at Mumbai University February 18, 2011. Photo: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
The choice of the Dalai Lama as this year’s commencement speaker at the University of California, San Diego, has outraged some of UCSD’s Chinese students, according to huanqiu.com.
In a meeting with several Chinese students on Thursday, UCSD’s principal, Pradeep K. Khosla, said the school will not cancel its invitation of Dalai Lama to the ceremony, but promised that the event will not involve politics.
While Khosla said the school will not cancel the invitation of the Dalai Lama, words used to describe him like “freedom fighter” and “spiritual head and leader of the Tibetan people” will be deleted from documents, huanqiu.com reported, citing one of the students who met with Khosla.
“When we asked the principal whether he knew that the decision to invite Dalai Lama for the speech was hurting the feeling of Chinese people, he said he knew nothing except that the Dalai Lama is a 'religious activist’,” said Fan Da (pseudonym), a member of the Chinese Union of UCSD.
According to Fan, the meeting lasted about an hour, and three groups of Chinese overseas students including the Chinese Union, Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) and the Chinese Business Society joined the talk.
It was not clear what actions Chinese students would take to continue their protests, according to Fan.
The UCSD announced on its website on February 2 that it has invited the 14th Dalai Lama to give a speech at the All Campus Commencement on June 17, as well as a speech on June 16 at a public event.
The university described the Dalai Lama as "the exiled spiritual head and leader of the Tibetan people" in the announcement.
The CSSA published on its Wechat account a statement on February 3 protesting against the Dalai Lama's speech.
"The Dalai Lama is not a pure religious activist but a political exile who has been engaging in secessionist activities for a long time … by inviting the Dalai Lama, the UCSD is not only interfering with China's domestic affairs but also hurting the feelings of Chinese students and academicians in the university," read the statement.