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China threatens Canada over Dalai Lama meetings

November 2, 2007

'Consequences'. But negative impact on trade ruled out

CanWest News Service
Montreal Gazette

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Chinese government is harshly denouncing Governor-General Michaëlle
Jean and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for their public meetings with
the Dalai Lama, threatening unspecified "consequences" for the country's
relationship with the emerging power.

Sun Lushan, a counsellor at the embassy of the People's Republic of
China in Ottawa, held a news conference late yesterday afternoon to call
on the Canadian government to stop "supporting and conniving at the
separatist activities of the Tibet independence forces.''

"It is a blatant interference in China's internal affairs and has
severely hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and will gravely
undermine the relationship between China and Canada," Lushan said.

"This is quite serious and there must be some consequences, an impact,
on our relationship."

Lushan refused several times to specify what consequences the Chinese
government had exactly in mind but dismissed any negative impact on the
two countries' trading relationship.

He also hoped that no links on the issue would be made with the 2008
Summer Olympics being held in Beijing, saying politics and sports should
not be mixed.

The Chinese government views the 72-year-old Dalai Lama as a separatist
who is seeking independence of a region integral to their country.

Liberal MP Larry Bagnell, a spokesperson for the Parliamentary Friends
of Tibet who also met with the Dalai Lama yesterday, said the fact that
a counsellor, rather than the ambassador, held the news conference
indicates that the denouncement is "something they had to do" to
maintain their position on Tibet.

Earlier in the day, the Dalai Lama touted Harper as a strong defender of
human rights while expressing reservations about Canada's combat role in
Afghanistan, saying that the war-torn country will only be won over by
non-violent means.

The world-famous pacifist said if Afghanistan came up in their
conversation, he would tell Harper that meeting violence with violence
only makes matters worse.

"I always believe non-violence is the best way to solve problems. Using
violence, counter-violence, sometimes it creates more complications,"
the Dalai Lama said.

He spoke to reporters after meeting briefly with Multiculturalism
Minister Jason Kenney at his office, reminding them he had also
expressed his reservations about the war in Iraq when he recently met
with U.S. President George W. Bush.

Kenney later said Afghanistan had not come up during the meeting with
the prime minister: "Issues like that were not discussed, were not
raised. It's no news the Dalai Lama is an advocate of non-violent
conflict resolution. It's our view that we are in Afghanistan at the
invitation of the Afghan government and the United Nations with the
support of the Afghan people to defend them from violence."

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