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Beijing blasts ‘conniving’ Canada

November 2, 2007

Beijing blasts 'conniving' Canada

ALAN FREEMAN
Globe and Mail

October 30, 2007

OTTAWA -- The Chinese government lashed out at Canada for "blatant
interference" in its domestic affairs and for undermining relations
between the two countries after Prime Minister Stephen Harper rolled out
the red carpet for the Dalai Lama yesterday.

Just hours after the Tibetan spiritual leader was ushered like a
visiting head of state into Mr. Harper's Parliament Hill office for a
40-minute meeting, the Chinese embassy called a news conference to
denounce Canada and warn of dire consequences for future Canada-China
relations.

Calling the visit "an erroneous act," political counsellor Sun Lushan
accused Canada of "supporting and conniving" with the "the separatist
Tibet independence forces" and warned of unspecified consequences on
bilateral relations between Ottawa and Beijing.

The Dalai Lama spent the day flitting from one official event to
another, praising Canadian multiculturalism as a model for the world,
but also making clear that his philosophy of nonviolence should apply to
Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

"Using violence to counter violence, sometimes it creates more
complicated" situations, he told reporters. "Violence, you see, controls
your physical, not control your mind. Mind can change through reasons,
through affection."

Joining such Western leaders as U.S. President George W. Bush and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Harper decided to ignore Chinese protests
and meet the Dalai Lama in an official venue.

In 2004, Paul Martin was the first Canadian prime minister to meet the
Dalai Lama, but did so on the neutral ground of a Catholic cleric's
private home.

The 40-minute encounter with Mr. Harper started with pleasantries,
giggles from the Dalai Lama and the exchange of white silk ceremonial
scarves, a traditional Tibetan gift. The long scarf, known as a khata,
presented by the Prime Minister was emblazoned with a red maple leaf,
prompting the Tibetan leader to describe it as "a great combination of
Canadian spirit and Tibetan spirit."

Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney later called it "an historic
meeting" that was perfectly appropriate given the fact that the Canadian
Parliament had earlier granted the Dalai Lama honorary Canadian citizenship.

Mr. Kenney scoffed at Chinese objections to the treatment accorded the
Tibetan leader. "I hope the entire world gets the message that attacking
a 72-year-old pacifist Buddhist monk who advocates nothing more than
cultural autonomy for his people is counterproductive."

Mr. Kenney insisted that the issue of Canada's military involvement in
Afghanistan had not been raised in discussions, but said he wasn't
concerned about the Tibetan leader's views.

"It's no news that the Dalai Lama is an advocate of nonviolent conflict
resolution," Mr. Kenney told reporters. "It's our view that we're in
Afghanistan at the invitation of the Afghan government and the United
Nations to defend them from violence. If you look at Tibetan history,
you'll see that self-defence is considered a legitimate context for that."

The Chinese embassy insisted the Dalai Lama still is advocating a
separate Tibet, even though the spiritual leader told parliamentarians
he only wishes to see Tibet obtain increased autonomy and an improved
financial condition within the People's Republic.

Quoting from statements made by the Dalai Lama two decades ago, Mr. Sun
said the Tibetan doesn't recognize Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, and
although he may appear to be a "mild and reasonable" religious figure,
he really is a political leader out to undermine the People's Republic.

The Dalai Lama said his visit was "purely non-political," although he
would continue to fight for the rights of those who suffer human-rights
violations. "My main interest is promotion of human value, promotion of
religious harmony," he said.

The Buddhist monk left Tibet in 1959 after the failure of a Tibetan
uprising and currently lives in exile in India.

In addition to meeting Mr. Harper, he was welcomed at Rideau Hall by
Governor-General Michaëlle Jean.

Wherever he went during the day, the Dalai Lama was greeted by groups of
well-wishers. Olga Chrzanowska came to Parliament Hill with three
friends from Ottawa's Shambhala Meditation Centre and offered the
Buddhist leader a khata as he entered the building for a series of
meetings with senators and MPs.

"I was totally excited. There's something about having this energy here.
I felt sort of euphoric inside," said Ms. Chrzanowska, a 27-year-old
student who describes herself as "a strong believer in his strong
message of compassion."

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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