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China warns Obama about Dalai Lama, citing Lincoln on slavery

November 15, 2009

Reuters
November 12, 2009

BEIJING (Reuters) -- A Chinese government
spokesman said Barack Obama should be especially
sympathetic to China's opposition to the Dalai
Lama and Tibetan independence, as a black
president who lauded Abraham Lincoln for helping abolish slavery.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made
the comments at a news conference on Thursday,
four days before Obama arrives in China for a
summit that will cover the two big powers' vast
and sometimes tense economic, diplomatic and security ties.

Obama did not meet Tibet's exiled Buddhist
leader, the Dalai Lama, when he was in Washington
in early October. But the Dalai Lama has said
they may meet after Obama's visit to China, which
condemns the Buddhist monk as a separatist for
demanding Tibetan self-determination.

China is sure to condemn such a meeting, and
spokesman Qin underscored -- and possibly
intensified -- the political temperature of the
issue by citing Obama's background and admiration
for President Abraham Lincoln, who opposed the
secession of the southern states and sought to
abolish slavery, which Qin likened to Tibetan society under the Dalai Lama.

After Obama's inauguration, the U.S. president
said he would not have been able to reach that
position without the efforts of Lincoln, said Qin.

"He is a black president, and he understands the
slavery abolition movement and Lincoln's major
significance for that movement," said Qin.

"Lincoln played an incomparable role in
protecting the national unity and territorial integrity of the United States."

Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a dangerous
"splittist" encouraging Tibetan independence, a
charge he denies. He says he is merely seeking
true autonomy for Tibet, which last year erupted
in riots and protests against the Chinese presence.

China's stance was like Lincoln's, said Qin.

"Thus on this issue we hope that President Obama,
more than any other foreign leader, can better,
more deeply grasp China's stance on protecting
national sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Qin.

Asked about any broader consequences of a
possible meeting between Obama and the Dalai
Lama, Qin said Beijing opposes any such meetings
between the exiled Tibetan leader and foreign
leaders, and said the issue was among China's core concerns.

"We must treasure the positive circumstances and
opportunities for China-U.S. relations," Qin said.

"In particular, both sides must respect each
other's core interests and major concerns, and
Tibetan issues are among China's core interests and major concerns."

(For full coverage of Obama's Asia tour)

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ken Wills)
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