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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Embassy heat

October 27, 2007

Chinese ambassador protests Harper's meeting with Dalai Lama in Ottawa

Ottawa Citizen
October 26, 2007

In advance of the Dalai Lama's visit to Ottawa this weekend, China's ambassador to Canada warned Thursday night that any interference in what the nation
considers domestic affairs will undermine Canada's interests and jeopardize relations between the two countries.

The revered Tibetan Buddhist is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday or Monday, as part of a global tour that has seen him hold
similar meetings with other western leaders, including U.S. President George W. Bush.

The government of China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist who is seeking Tibet's independence from China, and disapproves of foreign leaders who meet with
him.

"Any meeting with him sends the signal that the government here or in any other country is supportive," ambassador Lu Shumin said. "That is not in the interest of
Canada and of Canadian-Chinese relations."

Although the Prime Minister's Office has yet to release details, reports suggest the meeting between Harper and the Dalai Lama would be held publicly and at an
official venue.

The public meeting is likely to annoy China as a further intrusion on what it considers to be a domestic matter.

On a previous visit to Canada, the 72-year-old monk met with then-prime minister Paul Martin in the private residence of Ottawa's Roman Catholic archbishop.

That helped support the Liberal government's contention that the Dalai Lama was being received as a religious leader and not a political figure.

Speaking at a conference on Chinese-Canadian relations, Lu called the Dalai Lama "a political exile" and "not a pure religious figure."

It is important that Canada be careful with matters involving Tibet, as well as Taiwan, because they are sensitive issues that bear on China's sovereignty and
territorial integrity, Lu said.

"Any failure to do so will undoubtedly jeopardize our bilateral relations and will also undermine the fundamental interests of Canada in the long term."

Relations between Canada and China have been strained under the Harper government, but observers say they had been improving in recent months after
ministerial-level visits between government officials on both sides, and a meeting between Harper and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the G8 summit in June.

Lu expressed hope that the government might reconsider how it handles the Dalai Lama's visit.

"We hope that people will give it thought and consider this in the long term of the relationship between our two countries, not to damage the relationship which we
are now seeing having some positive progress in the right direction."

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