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China condemns Dalai Lama US trip

October 16, 2007

16 October 2007

Beijing has strongly urged US President George W Bush to cancel a
planned meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying it would "seriously
damage" relations.

Mr Bush is due to host Tibet's spiritual leader at the White House.

On Wednesday, Mr Bush is due to attend a ceremony at the US Capitol
where the Dalai Lama will receive a Congressional Gold Medal, a top US
civilian award.

It will be the first time a sitting president will have appeared in
public with the 72-year-old Buddhist leader.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said: "We would like
to again prompt the American side to correct the mistakes and to
cancel the arrangements."

The White House has said Mr Bush understands Beijing's concerns, but
hopes the Chinese leaders could get to know that the Dalai Lama was
someone who wants peace.

Tuesday's White House meeting will be the third encounter between the
US president and the Dalai Lama since Mr Bush took office in January

But the meeting is expected to take place in the White House residence
rather than the Oval Office out of deference to China.

'Brutal interference'

Chinese officials in Tibet expressed fury at the announcement of the
Congressional award.

Tibet's Communist Party Secretary of Tibet, Zhang Qingli, lambasted
the exiled spiritual leader for trying to "split the motherland".

"We are furious," he said. "If the Dalai Lama can receive such an
award, there must be no justice or good people in the world."

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since a failed uprising
against Chinese rule in 1959.

Beijing has long argued the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate is seeking
to destroy China's sovereignty by pushing for independence for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama insists he wants "real autonomy", not independence for
the region, which China claims has been its territory for centuries,
and which it has ruled since communist forces invaded in 1951.

Human rights concerns

The Dalai Lama's arrival in Washington on Monday was greeted by a
crowd of singing and dancing Tibetans dressed in traditional robes.

The Dalai Lama meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Recently, world leaders have grown more vocal in their concern for
human rights in Tibet.

In September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met the Dalai Lama,
incurring Beijing's wrath.

The historic Berlin meeting prompted China to withdraw from a
Germany-China symposium scheduled to be held in Munich and cancel an
annual event due to be held in Beijing in December to discuss human

The Dalai Lama has also met Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and
Australian Prime Minister John Howard this year, and is due to meet
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper later this month.

China was outraged when Canada granted the Dalai Lama honorary
citizenship last year.

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