3 Apr 2009

No Chinese pressure to stop Dalai Lama visit - Key

11:31 am on 3 April 2009

Prime Minister John Key says there has been no pressure from the Chinese government to halt the Dalai Lama's trip to New Zealand, but he is sure it will register its concerns.

Members of a group representing Chinese organisations have written to Parliament in a bid to have a visit by the Dalai Lama cancelled.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is due to speak in Auckland on 6 December.

The United Chinese Association, which represents 28 organisations, says New Zealand should follow the lead of South Africa, which refused the Dalai Lama a visa in February.

Association chairperson Steven Wong says the Dalai Lama spreads anti-Chinese government lies. He believes the visit could harm ties between New Zealand and China.

Mr Key says the Dalai Lama's applications will be processed in the usual way, like everyone else.

He says New Zealand is a free and independent nation that can invite whomever it likes.

The Dalai Lama Visit Trust says a visa has never been refused for the spiritual leader's previous four visits to New Zealand.