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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 warns Dalai Lama visit could harm relations

October 31, 2007

Oct. 29 2007
CTV.ca

China has warned that a meeting today between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Dalai Lama could harm its relations with Canada.

The talks scheduled for this afternoon will mark the first time a Canadian prime minister had ever held a formal meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, at a
government office.

In a statement to The Globe and Mail, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed its frustration that Ottawa is going ahead with the meeting, despite its repeated
objections.

The statement said the Dalai Lama is a separatist who veils his intentions in religion.

"China has on many occasions made solemn representations to the Canadian side on the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to Canada," the Chinese Foreign Ministry
said.

"We call on the Canadian side to clearly understand the nature of the Dalai Lama's separatist activities and treat seriously China's serious concerns, and not to allow
the Dalai Lama to visit, not allow him to use Canadian territory for activities to split China, and not to do anything to harm Sino-Canadian relations."

However, the ministry has released no details about retaliatory steps China could possibly take.

Harper will meet His Holiness at his Parliament Hill office.

Upon his arrival in Ottawa on Sunday morning, he was met at the airport by Environment Minister John Baird and Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien.

Talks will set the tone

Meanwhile, a Tibetan-Canadian leader said he hopes the meeting will set the tone for negotiations between Canada and China.

Norbu Tsering, president of the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario, told CTV's Canada AM that the country should learn from the Dalai Lama.

"I think my first hope is that the Canadian government will stand up and support what his holiness is trying to achieve -- to have a peaceful dialogue with the Chinese
government," Tsering said.

Former prime minister Paul Martin met with the Dalai Lama for about an hour in 2004. But they met at the Ottawa home of a Roman Catholic Archbishop, not on
Parliament Hill.

Earlier this month the Dalai Lama met with U.S. President George Bush.

While he said he found Bush to be a likable person, he disagreed with his politics.

"As far as your policies are concerned, I have some reservations," he told Bush.

On Iraq

On the U.S. presence in Iraq, the Dalai Lama then told an Ottawa audience on Sunday that the intention was "not necessarily" bad, but the practical result was that
the problem is only getting worse.

"No matter what the intentions, methods become unrealistic. So instead of solving the problem (they) increase the problem," he said to the audience of about 5,000
people.

As a person, he said Bush was very likable.

"I love him, really, as a human being. Very nice man, very simple, straightforward, no formality," he said, to laughter from the audience.

The Dalai Lama avoided mentioning Canada's military commitment to Afghanistan during his address, but it is likely to come up before he departs the country.

He did however, touch on his commitment to non-violence, saying that when Tibetans resorted to violence in the 1950s, it led to half a million deaths, and less
freedom overall.

"Violence brings more violence, more suffering,'' he said. "That's almost like suicide.'"

Tibetan autonomy

He also spoke little about the Chinese occupation of Tibet, a longstanding thorn in the side of many Tibetans.

He said he isn't pushing for outright Tibetan independence from China, but desires "meaningful autonomy" and democratic reforms, noting that there are economic
benefits from being under Beijing's rule.

Tsering said he hopes Harper's relations with China will be impacted by his meeting with His Holiness.

Tsering said the Dalai Lama's visit is part of his campaign to bring about peaceful relations between the world's nations. He said it is clear the spiritual leader is
against the war in Iraq.

"Definitely he meant we have seen a lot of destruction by the war itself. It's not going to bring any solutions we are looking for, so that means the next option is to
look for the peace options that will bring about harmony," Tsering said.

He said the Dalai Lama's very presence inspires peace and tranquility in those he meets.

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama spoke on a number of subjects including the need for Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Latin America to eventually unite in an effort to
resolve problems in the hemisphere.

He added that Russia should become a part of NATO because it is essentially a European country.

And the Dalai Lama also noted that the world has to come together to destroy nuclear weapons, which he said were useless in the modern world. But he pointed
out that resolving such problems begins with the individual.

The 72-year-old 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.

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.

Chinese officials are vehemently opposed to foreign leaders meeting with the Dalai Lama, claiming the Nobel laureate is a political figure and a separatist.

Beijing has publicly chastised Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for meeting with the leader.

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