How much does a visit from the Dalai Lama cost?
Last week, the South African government denied the Dalai Lama a visa, preventing him from attending Nobel-bestie Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday party. Here’s the analysis in a sentence: China’s investing billions of dollars into South Africa and they strong-armed the ruling party into denying the visa, despite the fact the the Dalai Lama planned to visit a private citizen and not attend any state sponsored events. Tutu responded with one of the greatest pouts ever, claiming that the ruling ANC is more manipulative and two-faced than the old apartheid government.
In response to his response, the ANC backpedaled, first saying that they denied the Dalai Lama’s visa because he hadn’t submitted his application correctly, and then saying they actually never planned to deny the Dalai Lama a visa in the first place. I laughed out loud when I read that. And it’s only the second worst communications job in the world this year.
Over the weekend, an economist published a study analyzing the economic consequences of hosting the Dalai Lama on an official state visit. The study included this gem:
A country’s exports to China were reduced by 8.1%-16.9% in the year immediately following the Dalai Lama’s visit.
Looks like the backbone of a convincing argument, if the stats are true. If you invite the Dalai Lama to your country, China becomes so blinded by spite, they’ll tank your economy (and vindictively raise prices in their own country) as soon as his plane lands in your airport. South Africa can’t afford that. But the article didn’t stop there:
The United State had also suffered the wrath of the Chinese since President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama in February last year. The economists said the move soured relations with China, which undermined the US’s recovery from the current economic crisis.
Really? China undermined our entire economy? I’m not buying it…but all of this is an interesting perspective on China’s growing global influence.
Somewhat sad comment from a South African friend a few days ago: “I feel like we’ve sold our soul to the devil.”