China has for years mounted an intense international lobbying campaign against the Dalai Lama, seeking to deny legitimacy to the Nobel Peace Prize winner and undermine his enduring popularity in Chinese-controlled Tibet.
1950 China invades Tibet
1959 Dalai Lama flees to exile in India
1960s-70s Hundreds of monastries destroyed during Chinese Cultural Revolution
1965 China announces creation of Tibet Autonomous Region
1987 Dalai Lama awarded Nobel Peace Prize for leading non-violent struggle for Tibet
2006 China opens first rail line to Tibet
As a result, both Russia and South Korea have prohibited the Dalai Lama from even transiting their countries.
Like many European countries, Belgium is eager to boost trade with the world's fourth largest economy.
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 amid a crackdown by the Chinese military on dissent following China's invasion of Tibet nine years earlier.
He now heads a Tibetan government in exile in the Indian Himalayan town of Dharamsala.
He has said he only wants limited autonomy for Tibet, but China has condemned him as a separatist.
In recent years representatives from Beijing have held several rounds of secret talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama, but there has been little sign of progress.