Denmark’s former PM questioned about Dalai Lama meeting

Former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and the Chinese Ambassador to Denmark Ms. Deng Ying was at Copenhagen ZOO in April 2019. Photo Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark’s Former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen was the cause of the biggest crisis in the Danish-Chinese relationship in recent times due to his meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2009. Denmark’s relations with China will be the topic when he is questioned by the Tibet Commission in a courtroom in Denmark on Friday, local media BT reports.

The Tibet Support Committee Denmark is the framework for a Danish commitment to improving the conditions of the Tibetan population by supporting their non-violent struggle for freedom, human rights, democracy, and independence. The association was established on March 6, 1989, and has since carried out a variety of campaigns and events.

During the last few months, the Tibet Commission has been investigating Danish authorities’ handling of several official Chinese visits and whether the citizens’ right to speak in this regard has been violated. The commission also takes into account the actions of Danish politicians on the issue of Tibet, which was invaded by China in 1950 and has autonomous region status.

The former Prime Minister will be questioned about his meeting with the Dalai Lama, also called the Tibetan spiritual head, whom he met with in 2009 as the new Prime Minister. In meeting him, Lars Løkke Rasmussen chose to defy the Asian superpower and, according to the Head of Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen, the reaction to the meeting from China was fierce. “This caused the biggest crisis in the Danish-Chinese relationship in recent times,” he stated during a previous interrogation.

Since then, no Danish head of government has wanted to meet with the Dalai Lama. The same year, a majority in the Danish parliament was behind a so-called verbal note stating that Denmark recognizes China’s sovereignty over Tibet and declares itself an opponent of Tibet’s independence. Local media criticized Denmark at the time for allowing China to decide who the Danish Prime Minister meets with, but several previous interrogations made by the Tibet Commission has shown an overall fear of angering China.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen is the latest in a group of ex-Prime Ministers who have been summoned to answer questions and in total, seven former Foreign Ministers and three Prime Ministers have previously been in question. Lars Løkke Rasmussen will also be questioned about his work in getting China to agree to send two pandas to Denmark after he visited the Asian superpower in May 2017. Allegedly China has been sending giant pandas to other countries as ‘diplomatic gifts’ as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

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