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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."

Trade won't suffer from Dalai Lama meeting: Ottawa

November 2, 2007

CTV.ca News Staff
Updated: Tue. Oct. 30 2007 12:59 PM ET

The Harper government maintained Tuesday there will be no economic
fallout from the prime minister's meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying
China and Canada can continue doing business without sacrificing
Canada's moral code.

Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian
identity, told Canada AM on Tuesday that despite threats from Chinese
officials, there will be no repercussions from Monday's official meeting.

"This prime minister, obviously, is someone who has placed a real
emphasis on human rights and Canadian values in our foreign policy, and
he has said that we can do business without sacrificing our belief in
human rights," Kenney said from Ottawa.

"Since we declared the Dalai Lama a honorary citizen, our trade with
China has gone up, our exports with China have gone up for the first
time in a long time and Chinese tourism to Canada has gone up."

On Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke with the Dalai Lama for
about 40 minutes in his office. The two men exchanged white Tibetan silk
scarves called "khata," the one intended for the Dalai Lama embroidered
with the Canadian maple leaf.

The Dalai Lama has visited Canada at least six times. Monday's formal
meeting was his first with a Canadian prime minister at a government office.

The Chinese leadership believes the 72-year-old spiritual leader is a
political figure with aims to fracture the country. On Monday, Chinese
officials called Harper's meeting with the Dalai Lama disgusting conduct
on the part of the Canadian government.

During a meeting with members of all three federal opposition parties,
the Dalai Lama said criticism of China's communist party has been
virtually "wiped out."

He said the father of Chinese communism, Mao Zedong, encouraged
criticism both within the Communist Party and from outsiders.

"He always placed emphasis that the Communist Party needs criticism,''
the Dalai Lama said Tuesday. "Without criticism, including
self-criticism, without that like fish without water -- cannot survive.

"Similarly, the Communist Party cannot survive without criticism.''

Chinese officials critical

On Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry called Harper's meeting with the
Dalai Lama "gross interference'' in China's affairs.

The ministry said Beijing hopes the Harper government can "reflect on
and correct the erroneous actions.''

On Monday, Sun Lushan, an official with the Chinese embassy in Ottawa,
said the meeting will "greatly undermine" relations between China and
Canada.

"It is a blatant interference in China's internal affairs and has
severely hurt the feelings of the Chinese people," he said.

Kenney called the Chinese statement "difficult" but said Canada is one
of many western nations that have immense respect for the Nobel laureate.

"It's Canadian hospitality for a respected world figure and an advocate
of peace, pluralism and non-violence," Kenney said of Harper's meeting.

The Dalai Lama maintained his talk with Harper was not politically
motivated. The spiritual leader is currently on a North American tour to
promote Tibetan autonomy and the preservation of Tibetan Buddhist
culture ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Kenney described him as a "remarkable man" and a "truly holy person."

"At the same time, he's very down to earth and totally unpretentious
with a great, almost child-like, sense of humour, "Kenney said.

"He's obviously a man of great courage and at 72 years of age, filled
with energy. I think everybody that met with him here in Ottawa was
impressed."

It is the Dalai Lama's first visit to Canada since he received honorary
Canadian citizenship last year in Vancouver.

In 1949, China invaded the Himalayan nation. The following year, at the
age of 16, the Dalai Lama assumed full political power as Head of State
and Government in Tibet.

After a failed uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to northern India
where he remains in exile.

With files from The Canadian Press

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