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Chinese Envoy Cautions Harper Against Meeting with Dalai Lama

October 24, 2007

Lu Shumin says Canada's support of Taiwan and Tibet could jeopardized
bilateral relations, and wants the government to grant his nation
market economy status.

Embassy -
October 17th, 2007
By Lee Berthiaume

Chinese Ambassador Lu Shumin warned the Canadian government to be
"very, very careful" in its dealings with Taiwan and Tibet amidst
reports Prime Minister Stephen Harper plans to meet the Dalai Lama
later this month.

In an interview with Embassy following a presentation at Carleton
University last week, Mr. Lu said tensions between China and Canada
have eased.

"We have seen some improvements over the last year or so," he said.
"The two leaders, the Chinese president and the prime minister here,
met in Germany [during the G8 leaders' summit] and had a cordial
discussion about our relationship."

Mr. Harper and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed to work on improving
the relationship, Mr. Lu said, including a pledge to continue
strengthening bilateral relations through a strategic partnership
agreement initiated by former prime minister Paul Martin.

Not only is bilateral trade expected to reach $30 billion (US) by the
end of 2007 following strong growth during the first half of the year,
but Mr. Lu said more ministerial visits are expected in the near
future between the two nations.

"I think both sides realize a good relationship between the two
countries is entirely in the interest of both," Mr. Lu said when asked
why the relationship has improved.

"I don't believe damage to the relationship will benefit Canada, will
benefit China. No way. The only thing is if we can keep a good
relationship, that will help both countries, that will benefit the
entire region, will benefit the entire world."

Canada this past year has publicly supported Taiwan's bid for observer
status at the World Health Organization, and abstained from voting on
a resolution concerning the island's membership at the United Nations.
The latter was considered a friendly gesture towards Taiwan.

In addition, there are reports Mr. Harper plans to meet with the Dalai
Lama when the Tibetan spiritual leader, who holds honourary Canadian
citizenship, visits Ottawa later this month.

In a question-and-answer session following his presentation at
Carleton, Mr. Lu was asked about the possible meeting.

"We are strongly opposed to any meeting between foreign officials and
the Dalai Lama because we believe the Dalai Lama is not a purely
religious figure," he said.

"We don't want to see any foreign country become a political stage for
his political activities."

When asked whether a meeting between the prime minister and the Dalai
Lama would hurt relations between Canada and China, he replied: "It
certainly doesn't help the relationship."

During the interview, Mr. Lu acknowledged that problems in the
relationship remain.

"We do have disputes or differences, but the disputes should be
handled in a very careful way," Mr. Lu said. "The question of Taiwan,
the question of Tibet, the meeting with the Dalai Lama and so on and
so forth. We hope these things will be handled in a very, very careful
way to not damage the relationship between the two countries."

He said all of these issues concern China's territorial integrity and
sovereignty, and that his government considers them to be internal

"The World Health Organization is a UN organization that requires
statehood to become a member or observer, so any direction or overt
push for Taiwan to become part of that organization, I think, would
not help our relationship."

Mr. Lu said he will continue pressing for stronger relations between
Canada and China, especially in the areas of education and cultural
exchanges, science co-operation and business.

He also repeated an early request that the Canadian government
recognize China as a market economy, even though Canada doesn't make
such distinctions.

"Still we believe China's economy, which has changed so much, from a
planned one to a market one, there are many countries that have
already recognized in public the market economic status of the Chinese
government," he said. "So I think the Canadians should also give
consideration of that."

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