11 Feb 2009

China's ambassador to Tonga walks out of regional conference in Tonga

11:13 am on 11 February 2009

The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's regional conference in Tonga has been marred by a diplomatic incident which saw China's ambassador to Tonga, Fan Quijing, walk out of the event during the opening address.

In the address at Nuku'alofa's Dateline Hotel, the CBA vice-president, Mano Wikranamayake of Sri Lanka, cited last year's contaminated milk scandal in China as an example of the challenges facing media freedom around the world.

However Mr Fan took offence and stormed off the stage he shared with other dignitaries when Mr Wikranamayake said that China's government suppressed news of the contamination causing the deaths of young children in an attempt to prevent the Beijing Olympics being


Afterwards, Mr Wikranamayake said he hadn't meant to be controversial.

"The thing is, this is a media conference and one of the burning issues around the World now is media freedom, particularly in developing countries and it was just an example I used, and I could have used examples from many countries, I just picked this one and it wasn't intended to be offensive, and it was just a comment to illustrate my point."

Mano Wikranamayake.