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Beijing's 'living Buddha' saddened by Harper's Dalai Lama meeting

March 25, 2009

Glen McGregor,  Canwest News Service
The National Post (Canada)
March 23, 2009

OTTAWA -- A Tibetan religious figure considered to be a "living
Buddha" by Beijing says Prime Minister Stephen Harper's support for
the Dalai Lama is offensive to the Chinese people and encourages in
Tibet the same kind of separatist sentiments seen in Quebec.

Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, who was designated a "reincarnated soul boy"
under the practices of Tibetan Buddhism in 1950, said he was saddened
that Harper met with the exiled spiritual leader.

The 2007 meeting with the Dalai Lama in Ottawa violated the spirit of
Canada-Chinese diplomatic relations, he said.

"We have agreed to respect each other's sovereignty, territorial
integrity and abide by the principle of one China," he said through
an interpreter. "When your prime minister met with someone engaged in
separatist activity aimed at splitting China, it was a gesture
showing support."

Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, 58, is also a deputy representing Tibet in
China's National People's Congress. He said Canadians would be just
as offended if top Chinese leaders met with separatist activists from Quebec.

He was in Ottawa Monday leading a delegation on a public relations
tour of Canada and the U.S. that China hopes will put a positive spin
on the 50th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama from Tibet

As part of the media blitz, Beijing is pushing March 28 as "Tibet
Serf Liberation Day." China contends the Tibetan people were victims
of an oppressive theocracy that enslaved them in a system of
religious serfdom before "liberation" by Chinese troops.

It is clear, however, that China is still angered by Mr. Harper's
meeting with the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing considers a "splitist" and
blames for instigating violent demonstrations in Tibet last March.
The meeting further soured already strained relations between China
and the Harper government.

But Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak's credibility as a spiritual and political
leader is dubious, says the Canada Tibet Committee, which considers
the Dalai Lama's exiled government the true representatives of the
Tibetan people.

"Any good Communist gains elected office in China," said Dermod
Travis, the group's executive director.

Contrary to claims made by the Tibetan delegation, the human rights
situation in Tibet remains poor, Mr. Travis says.

"There are thousands of Tibetans since last March who have not
received fair and open trials, and who do not receive legal counsel,
and who have been imprisoned for doing activities we take for granted here."

Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak and his delegation met with House of Commons
Speaker Peter Milliken on Monday and were scheduled to meet with the
Parliamentary Friends of Tibet on Monday evening.

In 2007, China announced that "living Buddhas" such as Shingtsa
Tenzinchodrak must be sanctioned by the Chinese government, a move
seen as further political interference by Beijing in the religious
life of Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama's supporters blame Beijing for the disappearance of
the boy he designated the Panchen Lama, the second highest-ranking
figure in Tibetan Buddhism. Beijing later named its own choice for
Panchen Lama.

On Monday, two media outlets with a history of antagonism toward the
Chinese government complained they had been were barred from an event
with living Buddha at the Chinese consulate in Toronto. NDTV and the
Epoch Times, both highly supportive of Falun Gong, a spiritual group
banned in China, said their reporters were tossed out a press
conference held by the Tibetan delegation.
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