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Dalai Lama's presence hurts China ties - India poll

April 5, 2008

Fri Apr 4, 2008

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has hosted the Dalai Lama since he fled
Tibet half a century ago, but a large majority of Indians surveyed by a
news magazine feel his presence has harmed the country's ties with China.

Outlook news magazine said it had polled 547 educated, well-off Indians
in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, asking them: "Is
Dalai Lama a problem for India?"

While 71 percent of respondents said hosting the Tibetan leader had
adversely impacted India-China relations, almost half thought Beijing
could retaliate by giving sanctuary to Indian militants.

A slew of anti-China protests in India since last month's unrest in
Tibet has embarrassed New Delhi, which recognises Tibet as an integral
part of China but which offered the Dalai Lama a refuge after he fled
Lhasa in 1959.

Dharamsala in the north Indian hills now houses the Tibetan
government-in-exile and was at the centre of the recent protests.

The survey showed 47 percent of respondents endorsed India's diplomatic
position of not angering China with open support for the Dalai Lama, yet
64 percent said they didn't want the government to stop Tibetans from
protesting against Beijing.

"People have a soft corner for the Dalai Lama but they don't want India
to take an extreme stand, like say, sending him back or stopping
Tibetans from demanding back their country," Prem Chand Palety, CEO of
Cfore, the pollsters, told Reuters.

After a small group of Tibetan protesters scaled the wall of the Chinese
embassy in New Delhi last month, India urged the Dalai Lama not to
indulge in political activities that hurt its ties with China.

China says the Tibetan leader orchestrated last month's unrest in Tibet,
a charge the Dalai Lama has strongly denied.

The survey showed 70 percent of Indians agreed with him.
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