Image copyright Reuters Image caption All Chinese athletes who compete for Canada will be required to sign an apology for Tibet’s history
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau says all Chinese athletes who compete for Canada at the Winter Olympics will have to sign an apology for Tibet’s history.
He made the announcement during a visit to the Dalai Lama, with the Tibetan leader sitting in the front row.
Both Trudeau and the Dalai Lama have been criticised in China for the move.
The Tibet leader faces police action and charges if he returns to his country, state media says.
China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) ratified legislation on Thursday to ensure any foreign trips by the Tibetan spiritual leader are handled in accordance with Chinese law.
A Google search of the Chinese phrase “Tibet’s religion’ murdered” brings up 1,500 results. More than three million Tibetan nationalists are reportedly registered in China, and thousands of websites promoting Tibetan independence or social justice have been blocked.
Mr Trudeau’s statement about athletes came after an informal meeting with Mr Tsering and “presented a draft that would be in the athlete’s best interest, to acknowledge the impact of historical events in China”.
The statement also said all delegates participating in the Olympics will be required to sign a statement of apology, “through their actions or lack thereof”.
In a separate statement, the Dalai Lama, who has led an unofficial “middle way” approach for Tibet, has called the statement of apology “great” and “very moving”.
He added that the letter “should be signed by all Chinese athletes who compete for Canada”.
The Chinese foreign ministry said Mr Trudeau’s “irresponsible statement” was hurtful and played into the hand of the Tibetan independence movement.
“We strongly urge Canada to respect the basic norms of international relations and to stick to the correct direction of promoting the friendly China-Canada relationship,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.
The Canadian Centre for International Governance Innovation has said China will view such a boycott “hostile” and use “similar methods to isolate them”, which includes pursuing legal action.
In a statement, an NGO called Speak For Tibet said Canada was following the “wrong path” in boycotting the Olympics.
“Olympic boycotts by progressive countries, particularly in defiance of the policies of authoritarian regimes like China’s, have hurt the likes of apartheid South Africa and contributed to the downfall of the Berlin Wall,” said Grace Tso, chair of the Vancouver-based group.
“Likewise, this unilateral decision will cause many Chinese athletes and spectators to stay away from Olympic Games. There will be a big negative economic impact on this event.
“Moreover, an olympic boycott will not advance Tibetan independence efforts in the long term.”
The Chinese government has long demanded that the Dalai Lama give up his quest for Tibetan independence – it calls him a “wolf in monk’s robes” – and live a Buddhist life.
China says that 80% of Tibet’s people want more autonomy within China, rather than independence, and has issued a series of recent resolutions urging Western countries to “respect the truth and history” to understand the “correct path” it is taking in Tibet.
A similar statement was released on Thursday in an attempt to counter the cancellation of at least one planned visit by Mr Trudeau.
Days before the announcement, China had invited Mr Trudeau to visit the region, but his planned February visit has been put on hold.
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