‘Regret at unhappiness’ over Dalai Lama’s degree

London Met ‘has not and will not be apologising’ to Chinese community. Melanie Newman reports

July 9, 2008

London Metropolitan University has denied that it has issued an apology to the Chinese community for conferring an honorary doctorate on the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, despite press reports to the contrary.

An article in the China Daily newspaper on 8 July said that the university had “recently apologized for bestowing an honorary doctorate to the Dalai Lama after the move drew intense criticism from a number of Chinese”.

The article continued: “Brian Roper, vice-chancellor of the university, expressed in a letter to the Chinese Embassy in London on June 16 his regret of his school’s move, saying that offering the degree to the Dalai Lama was not a well-considered decision, according to an embassy official last week. Roper said the university is committed to keeping a good relationship with China and fully supports the Beijing Olympics.”

The newspaper reported that Chinese students had called for a boycott of the university.

The article was followed up by a piece in The Guardian headlined “University says sorry to China for Tibet degree.”

But the university said that while it had expressed regret for any “unhappiness” that the award had caused, it categorically denied that it had apologised for bestowing it.

A London Met spokeswoman said: “The vice-chancellor recently met with representatives of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the UK. During that meeting, he expressed regret at any unhappiness that had been caused to Chinese people by the recent award of an honorary doctorate to the Dalai Lama. It was not the university’s intention to cause any such unhappiness. London Metropolitan University has not and will not be apologising for the award of an honorary doctorate to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Nor will we be retracting the award.”

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