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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK


World: Asia-Pacific

Anger over Murdoch's Tibet comments

Rupert Murdoch: Accused of furthering own business interests in China

The media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch, has been criticised by human rights activists for comments he is said to have made about the Dalai Lama.


The BBC's Torin Douglas: "He expressed support for occupation of Tibet"
In an interview with the American magazine Vanity Fair, Mr Murdoch is reported to say of the Tibetan leader: "I have heard cynics who say he's a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes."


[ image: Dalai Lama:
Dalai Lama: "Political old monk in Gucci shoes"
One of the criticisms of Mr Murdoch is that his comments are "self-serving", as he has been working hard to develop business interests in China, which occupies Tibet.

However, some observers say his attack might backfire, as it comes at a time when the Dalai Lama and the cause of Tibet are more popular than ever in the United States.

Mr Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, asks whether Tibet's own culture was ever worth preserving. "It was a pretty terrible old autocratic society out of the Middle Ages," he says.

"Maybe I'm falling for their propaganda," he says of the Chinese Government, "but it was an authoritarian, medieval society without any basic services."

'Man of compassion'

The Dalai Lama's representative in the UK, Migyur Dorjee, told the BBC he thought Mr Murdoch was speaking more out of ignorance than malice.


The Dalai Lama's representative Migyur Dorjee: "Murdoch is ignorant about the whole issue"
"The question is what kind of society do his holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people want in the future.

"His holiness's views are very clear and well-known all over the world. He is a very liberal man of compassion and love," said Mr Dorjee.

"We don't need to defend the Dalai Lama because his own deeds and his popularity are the answer."

A spokesman for the Tibet Fund, which sends cash to Tibetans exiled in India and Nepal, said the tycoon should stick to making money.

Accusations of appeasement

"Rupert Murdoch knows nothing about Tibet," Tashi Tsering told the UK's Daily Telegraph.

"People like him who work with the Chinese Government are directly supporting the occupation of Tibet."


[ image: Chris Patten's book about his time in Hong Kong was reportedly vetoed by Murdoch]
Chris Patten's book about his time in Hong Kong was reportedly vetoed by Murdoch
Mr Murdoch has been accused several times of appeasing the Chinese to protect his business empire.

Last year a book by the former Hong Kong Governor, Chris Patten, was dropped by News Corp subsidiary HarperCollins because it was critical of the Beijing regime.

It was reported that the order came from Mr Murdoch himself.

Previously, his Star TV satellite company, which broadcasts into the south of China, had dropped BBC news coverage because of unflattering reports about the leadership.





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