Sri Lanka cricketers told to shun Dalai Lama over China ties

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 04 May 2010, 14:22 GMT]
Sri Lanka stopped cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara and another player from calling on the Dalai Lama out of fear that a meeting would anger China, AFP reported Tuesday. Sangakkara and former skipper Mahela Jayawardene were advised not to join their Indian Premier League teammates who paid a courtesy call on the Tibetan spiritual leader last month, Sri Lanka cricket secretary Nishantha Ranatunga told AFP. "We were made to understand that we should not upset relations with China," he said.

"Kumar and Mahela were instructed not to visit the Tibetan leader. It was a foreign ministry directive that was issued to us, via the sports ministry," cricket secretary Ranatunga told AFP.

Sangakkara was the captain of the Kings XI Punjab in the just concluded IPL tournament. AFP quoted local media as saying that Jayawardene's wife Christina had, however, joined the team to visit the Tibetan spiritual leader

Sri Lanka supports a "one-China" policy and regards Beijing as a key political and military ally.

Beijing has long been the main supplier of weapons to Colombo and has also helped block a resolution censuring Sri Lanka for its massacre of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians the final stages of its war against the Tamil Tigers last year.

China regularly protests to countries which allow visits by the Dalai Lama. Beijing sees him as a supporter of independence for Tibet, which it regards as Chinese territory. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959.


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