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China warns Australia over Dalai Lama visit

June 14, 2008

AFP
June 12, 2008

BEIJING, June 12 -- China warned Australia Thursday not to allow the
exiled Dalai Lama to carry out separatist activities on its
territory, despite the Tibetan spiritual leader's stated opposition
to an independent Tibet.

"We request Australia to pay attention to our grave concerns and not
allow the Dalai to engage in separatist activities on Australian
territory," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told journalists.

"The Chinese government firmly opposes the Dalai's engagement in
separatist activities in any country under any name and firmly
opposes any country offering the Dalai support or convenience to
engage in separatist activities."

Qin was commenting on the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner's ongoing
visit to Australia.

China has continued to accuse the Dalai Lama of seeking an
independent Tibet, but the Buddhist leader has repeatedly denied such
accusations while calling for greater autonomy for his homeland from
Chinese rule.

On Thursday in Sydney, the Dalai Lama reiterated his call for
"meaningful autonomy" for Tibet, while appealing to Tibetans not to
interfere with the Beijing Olympic torch relay as it passes through
the capital Lhasa in coming days.

"The Olympic Games we fully support, the Olympic torch is part of
that," the Dalai Lama told reporters in Sydney, where he is
conducting a series of meditation seminars.

"Over a billion Chinese brothers and sisters feel very proud of it,
we must respect this, therefore we should not disturb it."

Some groups critical of China's rule in Tibet have said taking the
torch to the Himalayan region is an insult considering the massive
Chinese security clampdown after unrest against Chinese rule exploded
there in March.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say more than 200 Tibetans have died in the
crackdown. China denies those allegations and says "rioters" were
responsible for 21 Tibetan deaths.

China has largely blamed the Dalai Lama for fomenting the unrest and
accused him of seeking to sabotage the Olympics.
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