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Dalai Lama mocks authorities in message to Archbishop Tutu

The Dalai Lama said that China was built on lies, poked fun at the South African government and pretended to be a demon in a video call to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's birthday celebrations in South Africa.

China's officials were hypocrites, the Dalai Lama said over the videophone after visa problems stopped him from attending the celebrations in South Africa."

Some Chinese officials describe me as a demon," the Tibetan spiritual leader said to loud applause as he put his index fingers either side of his head to mimic devil's horns.

"In reality, for the Communist totalitarian system ... hypocrisy (and) telling lies has unfortunately become part of their lives."

He said the Chinese government was "uncomfortable" with people who tell the truth, adding that honest people live longer and he would like to attend Dr Tutu's 90th birthday.

"At that time, don't forget to send me an invitation ... then we can test your government," he said to Archbishop Tutu in an apparent reference to his visa debacle with South African authorities. He added the Chinese people should be able to hear his views and judge for themselves.

"Censorship is immoral," he said. He also called for legal reforms in China. "The Chinese judiciary system must be raised up to international law standards," he said.

The South African government's failure to allow the Dalai Lama into the country for the party on Saturday has been seen as bowing to pressure from China, South Africa's largest trading partner, which pledged to invest $2.5bn in Africa's largest economy last week.

The 80-year old Dr Tutu retired about a year ago from most public duties but has remained a prominent figure and is still seen as a voice of integrity.

Dr Tutu, often described as South Africa's conscience, had called the African National Congress-led government worse than the country's former oppressive white regime for not issuing the visa. Dr Tutu accused the government of failing to side with "Tibetans who are being oppressed viciously by the Chinese". REUTERS