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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Gordon Brown faces rift with Prince Charles over 'snub' to Dalai Lama

February 5, 2008

Daily Mail
2nd February 2008

Gordon Brown is on a collision course with Prince Charles over the
sensitive issue of the Chinese government's human-rights record.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is planning to
visit Britain in May and has requested an audience with the Prime Minister.

But Mr Brown, keen to boost trade links with China, has yet to reply to
the request and risks being embarrassed during the trip by the Prince of
Wales, a long-standing friend of the Tibetan.

Charles's support for the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile since an
uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959, is understood to be one
of the reasons why he has made it known that he is boycotting this
summer's Beijing Olympics.

He has met the Tibetan on several occasions, including his last visit to
the UK in 2004, and is likely to do so again in May.

Tony Blair met the Dalai Lama in 1999 and President George Bush held a
public meeting with him last year.

The Prime Minister, however, keen to do business with China, has
accepted an invitation to attend the Olympics and campaigners fear he
may snub the Dalai Lama.

When Mr Brown visited China last month, the issues of Beijing's
human-rights record and its rule over Tibet were raised only fleetingly.

Behind the scenes, British diplomats curried favour with their Chinese
counterparts, comparing the confrontational approach of German
Chancellor Angela Merkel - in October she met the Dalai Lama in her
office and backed his call for more cultural autonomy for Tibet - with
Mr Brown's neglect of the issue.

The Dalai Lama's supporters say he has the right to be accorded the
status of a putative leader of a free Tibet.

But many political leaders agree to greet him only as a religious
leader, to minimise the offence caused to the Chinese.

Last night Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, president of the British
Tibet Society, called on Mr Brown to meet the spiritual leader.

He said: "Brown has been concentrating solely on trade with China and
human rights haven't featured.

"He is simply concerned with cosying up to the Chinese government. Why
doesn't he care about human rights?"

Prince Charles, who described senior Chinese officials as "appalling old
waxworks" at the time of the Hong Kong handover in 1997, made his
decision to boycott the Olympics known to campaigners for a free Tibet.

The Chinese government's continued hostility to the Dalai Lama was made
clear last month when a spokesman said of him: "The goal of all of his
schemes is to split the motherland, sabotage ethnic unity, sabotage
China's relations with other nations and interfere with the Olympic
Games. So he is in no way a religious or spiritual leader."

Last night Tsering Tashi, the Dalai Lama's UK representative, said it
"would send a very positive signal to everyone about China and human
rights if Mr Brown would meet His Holiness".

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We will make a decision on this closer
to the time."
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