Hastings District Council today confirmed the exiled leader of the Tibetan government, the Dalai Lama, has requested an audience with councillor Kevin Watkins and will visit the city early next month.
The globe’s most famous Buddhist monk is expected to put the heat on Mr Watkins, (longtime champion of the fruit bowl’s 30-year sister city relationship with China’s Guilin), anxious to spark a council re-think of the relationship with a Chinese city.
“Many see the Guilin fellowship as Hastings’ tacit approval of the Chinese occupation of Tibet,” said His Holiness’ regent, Zhang Qiyue.
“It’s hoped councillor Watkins will agree to sever all ties with Guilin, effectively condemning China’s continued presence in Tibet.”
Mr Watkins today told BayBuzz he was happy to meet with the 14th Dalai Lama (pictured), yet dismissed the attempt to end the sister-city fellowship as “neo-Confucian bureaucracy”.