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President Bush Says He Told China's Leaders not to Fear the Dalai Lama

November 15, 2010

Bhuchung K. Tsering
November 11, 2010

Former American President, George W. Bush, has revealed his conversation with Chinese President Hu Jintao in which he had said China's leaders should not fear the Dalai Lama.

In his much-awaited memoir, Decision Points, which was released on November 9, 2010, Bush says he met His Holiness the Dalai Lama five times during his presidency and "found him to be a charming, peaceful man." He added, "I told China's leaders they should not fear him."

Bush also talks about his conversation with President Hu in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 during which he told the Chinese leader about his decision to attend the ceremony to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama. President Bush said he told President Hu that he would attend the ceremony (that took place subsequently on October 17, 2007 in Washington, D.C.) "as a measure of my respect for the Dalai Lama."

Bush writes at some length about his meetings with both President Jiang Zemin and President Hu Jintao and how he worked to improve US-China relations.

Following is the excerpt from the book relating to Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"At the 2007 APEC summit in Sydney, I told President Hu that I planned to attend a ceremony where the Dalai Lama would receive the Congressional Gold Medal. the Buddhist leader was a source of distress for the Chinese government, which accused him of stirring up separatists in Tibet. I met with the Dalai Lama five times during my presidency, and found him to be a charming, peaceful man.  I told China's leaders they should not fear him.  "This is not meant as a slap at China," I said, "but as a measure of my respect for the Dalai Lama and for the U.S. Congress.  You know my strong belief in religious freedom."

"This is a politically sensitive issue in China," President Hu replied.  "...It will draw a very strong reaction from the Chinese people." What he meant was that it would draw a strong reaction from the government, which did not want me to be the first American president to appear with the Dalai Lama in public.

"I'm afraid that I will have to go to that ceremony," I said. "
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