U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein called for an apology and a retraction after a state-run Chinese publication, the Global Times, published an article condemning the University of California, San Diego, and its chancellor for inviting the Dalai Lama to speak at its recent commencement. Some Chinese students at UCSD protested the decision to invite the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner. The Chinese government regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist who wants to divide Tibet from China, while the Dalai Lama has said he wants autonomy for Tibet, not full independence.
The Global Times article explicitly notes Chancellor Pradeep Khosla’s status as an Indian-American and says of the invitation to the Dalai Lama, “Khosla must bear the consequences for this.”
“Don't naively believe that China will acquiesce to the chancellor of UCSD. His support for Tibet independence will affect his personal and the university's exchanges with China. Chinese universities will take cooperative programs with it into prudent reconsideration,” the article says.
“It's suggested that relevant Chinese authorities not issue visas to the chancellor and not recognize diplomas or degree certificates issued by the university in China.”
The Global Times is known for its nationalistic content, and one analyst of Chinese media, David Wertime, recently warned against interpreting its articles as government policy, writing in Foreign Policy that the paper is “not a mouthpiece for Beijing.”
In a statement issued last week, Feinstein, a Democrat from California, said she finds “it unconscionable that a reporter for the Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, would threaten UC San Diego and its chancellor and students for inviting the Dalai Lama to speak.”
“The newspaper should immediately apologize and retract the article that not only threatens to withhold visas from Chancellor Pradeep Khosla but also suggests the university would be punished by withholding students,” Feinstein said.
UCSD issued a statement in response to the article. “The University of California, San Diego, has always served as a forum for discussion and interaction on important public policy issues and respects the rights of individuals to agree or disagree as we consider issues of our complex world,” the university said. “Our 2017 speaker, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, carries a message that promotes global responsibility and service to humanity that is of great interest to the UC San Diego community and to our students as they enter their professional lives.”