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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."

China takes swipe at US over Tibet, Taiwan

February 2, 2010

by Susan Stumme
Agence France-Presse (AFP)
February 2, 2010

BEIJING (AFP) -- China warned President Barack
Obama Tuesday not to meet the Dalai Lama and
threatened diplomatic reprisals over US arms
sales to Taiwan, opening a new front in an
escalating feud between the world's top powers.

Beijing's tough rhetoric piled pressure on a
crucial relationship already severely strained
over Google's threat to halt operations in China,
which sparked a row over Internet freedom, and a
host of trade and currency disputes.

China and the United States are working together
on several pressing international disputes,
including fraught negotiations aiming to curb the
nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran.

But Beijing hinted on Tuesday that it may no
longer be willing to play by US rules on such key
foreign policy issues, and blamed Washington for
any negative consequences. Related article: For
Obama on China, no more Mr. Nice Guy?

"China-US relations, in important international
and regional issues, will inevitably be
influenced (by the Taiwan deal) and the
responsibility completely lies with the United
States," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

Ma also called on US companies selling arms to
Taiwan -- corporate giants like Boeing, Lockheed
Martin and Raytheon -- to back away from the arms
deal, after earlier warning that Beijing could impose sanctions.

China is now the largest holder of US government
debt, and some analysts have suggested that its
economic clout has emboldened leaders of the
world's most populous nation to take on Washington in a more forceful way.

The sanctions threat was indeed a new step by
Beijing, which has always strongly opposed US
arms sales to Taiwan and also cut off military
and security contacts with Washington in
retaliation for the deal. Related article: US
urges China against sanctions amid Taiwan spat

Washington last week approved a package of
Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and
other military hardware totalling 6.4 billion
dollars for Taiwan, which China views as part of
its territory awaiting reunification.

On Tibet, Beijing reiterated its long-standing
opposition to any meeting between Obama and the
Dalai Lama, who is accused by China of fomenting
separatist dissent in his Himalayan homeland.

Such a meeting would "seriously undermine the
political foundation of Sino-US relations," Zhu
Weiqun, executive vice minister of the Communist
Party body that handles contact with the Dalai Lama, told a news conference.

"If the US leader chooses to meet with the Dalai
Lama at this time, it will certainly threaten
trust and cooperation between China and the United States," Zhu said.

"We oppose any attempt by foreign forces to
interfere in China's internal affairs using the
Dalai Lama as an excuse," he added.

Zhu's comments followed another round of talks
between Chinese officials and envoys of the
exiled Tibetan spiritual leader -- the ninth
since 2002 and the first in more than a year --
which Beijing said had yielded no progress.
Related article: China says won't relax grip on Tibet

The Dalai Lama is due to visit Washington later
this month on a trip to the United States but no
meeting with Obama has been announced.

The Obama administration backs a one-China
policy, but also is bound by law to provide
self-ruled Taiwan with weapons for defensive
purposes, and backs dialogue between the Dalai Lama's envoys and Beijing.

Obama avoided a meeting with the Buddhist monk in
the run-up to his maiden visit to China in
November, presumably so as not to offend Beijing,
but a top aide said the Nobel Peace Prize winners
would meet at an "appropriate time".

A spokesman for Tibet's government-in-exile,
Thubten Samphel, said "the role of the United
States is to facilitate a just and honest
dialogue between the Dalai Lama's envoys and the government of China".

Washington needs China's support for any new UN
sanctions against Iran, which the West fears is
secretly developing fissile material for atomic
weapons under the cover of its uranium enrichment
programme -- a charge Tehran denies. Related
article: China says still room for talks on Iran

China on Tuesday reiterated that diplomacy was
the way forward on the Iran standoff, batting
back US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's
calls for Beijing to join international calls for sanctions.

"China always believes that dialogue and
negotiations are the best way to resolve this
issue," said the foreign ministry spokesman.
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