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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Dalai Lama in Britain laments 'totalitarian' China

May 22, 2008

May 20, 2008

LONDON (AFP) - The Dalai Lama began an 11-day visit to Britain Tuesday, during which Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces a delicate balancing act backing Tibetan rights while not offending China.

Speaking hours after touching down at London's Heathrow airport, the Tibetan spiritual leader denounced the "totalitarian" government in Beijing as he received an honorary doctorate.

"In Tibet, although the Chinese government is helping modern education... as you know the totalitarian system is one-sided, every field is much politicised and it does not give a complete form of education," he said.

He flew in from Germany, the first stop on a five-country tour, for a visit which will notably include talks with Brown and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the world's Anglican communion.

But the meeting Friday, at Williams' Lambeth Palace residence, has been criticised by pro-Tibetan campaigners because it is not taking place at Brown's Downing Street office.

Both of Brown's immediate predecessors, Tony Blair and John Major, met the Dalai Lama in Downing Street.

Political opponents have accused Brown -- who is keen to boost trade and other ties with China -- of bowing to pressure from Beijing, which is unhappy at protests around the world in support of the pro-democracy movement.

The London leg of the Olympic torch relay on April 6 was marred by scuffles between police, demonstrators and Chinese security officials guarding the flame on its route around the British capital.

Brown, who has said he was "unhappy" about China's actions in Tibet in March, has rejected criticisms that he was willing to kowtow to Beijing, saying the location of the talks was irrelevant.

He has insisted that "all issues of substance" on the situation in Tibet were on the table and he would press the Dalai Lama to help set up talks between the Chinese government and Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama's visit, which ends May 30, follows a similar pattern to his five-city German tour, with talks on human rights and peace as well as meetings with lawmakers.

On Tuesday, he received an honorary philosophy doctorate from London Metropolitan University in recognition of his "outstanding achievements in promoting peace globally as well as for his inspirational spiritual leadership."

Dressed in a blue academic gown and tassled soft cap over his orange robes, he said he was "very happy and very proud" to receive the award and "extremely happy to be here once more" in Britain.

The Dalai Lama spoke about his passion for human values and education, though admitted he had been a "lazy" student.

"The real element to bring inner peace is within ourself," he added. "We cannot develop a peaceful mind through injection."

The 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner later met Tibetan students from the university at a reception.

The Dalai Lama is to meet lawmakers Wednesday and gives evidence Thursday to a parliamentary oversight committee on foreign affairs.

The committee said he is to be asked about China's human rights record in Tibet, including Beijing's military crackdown there in March.

Speeches and talks are also scheduled in Nottingham, east central England, and the university city of Oxford, west of London.

The Dalai Lama -- widely respected in the West and courted by celebrities, but accused of fomenting trouble in his mountain homeland against Chinese rule -- will face protests, one Buddhist group said.

The Western Shugden Society, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism that reveres Dorje Shugden, a god denounced by the Dalai Lama since 1996, said it would picket his appearance before the parliamentary committee and other events.

Tsering Tashi, the Dalai Lama's representative in London, played down the significance of the protest.

"It's definitely not going to affect the visit, because the whole world knows what His Holiness is all about," he told AFP.

"If you are not a very good person then you will not be awarded the Nobel Prize."
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