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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."

China condemns Dalai Lama US trip

October 18, 2007

16 October 2007

Beijing has strongly urged US President George W Bush to cancel a planned meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying it would "seriously damage" relations.

Mr Bush is due to host Tibet's spiritual leader at the White House.

On Wednesday, Mr Bush is due to attend a ceremony at the US Capitol where the Dalai Lama will receive a Congressional Gold Medal, a top US civilian award.

It will be the first time a sitting president will have appeared in public with the 72-year-old Buddhist leader.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said: "We would like to again prompt the American side to correct the mistakes and to cancel the arrangements."

The White House has said Mr Bush understands Beijing's concerns, but hopes the Chinese leaders could get to know that the Dalai Lama was someone who wants

Tuesday's White House meeting will be the third encounter between the US president and the Dalai Lama since Mr Bush took office in January 2001.

But the meeting is expected to take place in the White House residence rather than the Oval Office out of deference to China.

'Brutal interference'

Chinese officials in Tibet expressed fury at the announcement of the Congressional award.

Tibet's Communist Party Secretary of Tibet, Zhang Qingli, lambasted the exiled spiritual leader for trying to "split the motherland".

"We are furious," he said. "If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world."

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Beijing has long argued the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate is seeking to destroy China's sovereignty by pushing for independence for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama insists he wants "real autonomy", not independence for the region, which China claims has been its territory for centuries, and which it has ruled
since communist forces invaded in 1951.

Human rights concerns

The Dalai Lama's arrival in Washington on Monday was greeted by a crowd of singing and dancing Tibetans dressed in traditional robes.

The Dalai Lama meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Recently, world leaders have grown more vocal in their concern for human rights in Tibet.

In September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met the Dalai Lama, incurring Beijing's wrath.

The historic Berlin meeting prompted China to withdraw from a Germany-China symposium scheduled to be held in Munich and cancel an annual event due to be
held in Beijing in December to discuss human rights.

The Dalai Lama has also met Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Australian Prime Minister John Howard this year, and is due to meet Canadian Prime
Minister Stephen Harper later this month.

China was outraged when Canada granted the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship last year.

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