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Dalai Lama's welcome angers Chinese delegation

November 9, 2007

ALAN FREEMAN
Globe and Mail, Canada
November 6, 2007

OTTAWA -- The leader of a delegation of "Tibetologists" backed by the
Chinese government, yesterday compared Prime Minister Stephen Harper's
meeting last week with the Dalai Lama to China officially supporting
Quebec separation.

"Imagine if our government supported the separation of Quebec from
Canada, how do you think you would feel?" said An Caidan, a researcher
at the China Tibetology Research Center.

Mr. An, who is Han Chinese, was speaking at a news conference at the
Chinese embassy of four Tibet specialists who are on a cross-country
tour of Canada clearly designed to counter the red-carpet welcome the
Tibetan spiritual leader received last week in Ottawa.

"We are here for friendship, but what the Canadian government has done
is not a token of friendship at all," he said. He added that the Chinese
people remembered fondly the support given to the Communist revolution
by the Canadian "hero" Norman Bethune, but were hurt by the welcome Mr.
Harper gave the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama, already designated an honorary Canadian citizen, had a
40-minute audience with the Prime Minister in his Parliament Hill office
and was greeted by the Governor-General at Rideau Hall.

The four members of the delegation, who are meeting with academics in
Vancouver and Calgary as well as Ottawa before heading to the U.S.,
repeated the Chinese government's contention that the Dalai Lama is
seeking secession for Tibet, a charge he denies.

The Tibetan leader, who has lived in exile since 1959, says he is
seeking autonomy for Tibet within a sovereign China, but the
Chinese-sponsored delegation, which also included a Tibetan doctor and a
Buddhist monk, insisted it was simply part of a two-step process aimed
at secession.

"He has never given up his ultimate goal of separation," countered Ciren
Jiabu, an ethnic Tibetan who heads the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences.
"This is only a change in tactics."

When asked whether Tibetans should have the same chance to determine
whether they wish to stay part of China as Quebeckers had in the
referendums of 1980 and 1995, there was clear anxiety among the visiting
experts. They passed notes to each other and attempted to avoid responding.

Mr. An, who first raised the comparison with Quebec, said the two
situations could not be compared because Canada was only 100 years old
while the history of the Chinese nation was 5,000 years old.

Asked again whether they thought it was a good idea for Tibetans to vote
in a referendum on separation, Mr. Ciren responded that "we are not in a
position to be representing the will of the Tibetan people, but I think
the people in Tibet will not have a referendum."

The Tibetologists are being sponsored on their trip by the China
International Culture Association, which they said was a civil
organization, unrelated to the Chinese government.

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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