Philip Li Koi-hop, chairman of the Hong Kong Tibetan and Han-Chinese Friendship Association (Photo/Jonathan Wong)
DHARAMSHALA, June 3: If odds are to be believed, Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama might be visiting Hong Kong, the Special Administrative Region under the People’s Republic of China, this September.
Organisers of the trip, a Hong Kong based religious group, is confident that the Dalai Lama will be able to make the visit, despite Beijing’s constant censure of the Tibetan spiritual leader as a “splittist.”
Philip Li Koi-hop, chairman of the Hong Kong Tibetan and Han-Chinese Friendship Association, expressed his optimism while speaking to Hong Kong based newspaper the South China Morning Post.
"One time I asked him if he wanted to come to Hong Kong. He answered 'Yes', and said a University of Hong Kong professor had invited him earlier. But the Hong Kong government rejected the visit," Li, who has visited the Dalai Lama four times in India between 2009 and 2011, told the Post.
Li said the current invitation to the 77-year-old spiritual leader, who relinquished all his political authority to the elected Tibetan leadership in 2011, was sent following his return from his latest visit.
It has been learnt that the Dalai Lama's private office, which manages all his schedules and meetings, has not yet responded to the invitation.
Li further told the Post that he hopes to use media pressure to urge the Dalai Lama to come to Hong Kong as well as to lean on the Immigration Department to allow the visit.
Li has applied to the Immigration Department as well as sent letters to authorities in the mainland, and to President Xi Jinping, to allow the Dalai Lama to visit the city. He is yet to receive any replies.
Li added that if the Dalai Lama, who was forced into exile in 1959, is allowed to enter Hong Kong, “his visit will represent significant progress in easing tensions with Beijing.”
The Hong Kong Tibetan and Han-Chinese Friendship Association was set up in 2010 to ''defend Tibetans' core value and promote ethnic harmony in China.'
An official of the Association had earlier told the Kyodo news service “they want to gather people who would defend Tibetan culture and to build strong ties with them.”