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Dalai Lama's welcome angers Chinese delegation

November 8, 2007

Globe and Mail,
November 6, 2007

OTTAWA -- The leader of a delegation of "Tibetologists" backed by the Chinese government, yesterday compared Prime Minister Stephen Harper's meeting last
week with the Dalai Lama to China officially supporting Quebec separation.

"Imagine if our government supported the separation of Quebec from Canada, how do you think you would feel?" said An Caidan, a researcher at the China
Tibetology Research Center.

Mr. An, who is Han Chinese, was speaking at a news conference at the Chinese embassy of four Tibet specialists who are on a cross-country tour of Canada
clearly designed to counter the red-carpet welcome the Tibetan spiritual leader received last week in Ottawa.

"We are here for friendship, but what the Canadian government has done is not a token of friendship at all," he said. He added that the Chinese people remembered
fondly the support given to the Communist revolution by the Canadian "hero" Norman Bethune, but were hurt by the welcome Mr. Harper gave the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama, already designated an honorary Canadian citizen, had a 40-minute audience with the Prime Minister in his Parliament Hill office and was greeted by
the Governor-General at Rideau Hall.

The four members of the delegation, who are meeting with academics in Vancouver and Calgary as well as Ottawa before heading to the U.S., repeated the Chinese
government's contention that the Dalai Lama is seeking secession for Tibet, a charge he denies.

The Tibetan leader, who has lived in exile since 1959, says he is seeking autonomy for Tibet within a sovereign China, but the Chinese-sponsored delegation, which
also included a Tibetan doctor and a Buddhist monk, insisted it was simply part of a two-step process aimed at secession.

"He has never given up his ultimate goal of separation," countered Ciren Jiabu, an ethnic Tibetan who heads the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences. "This is only a
change in tactics."

When asked whether Tibetans should have the same chance to determine whether they wish to stay part of China as Quebeckers had in the referendums of 1980
and 1995, there was clear anxiety among the visiting experts. They passed notes to each other and attempted to avoid responding.

Mr. An, who first raised the comparison with Quebec, said the two situations could not be compared because Canada was only 100 years old while the history of
the Chinese nation was 5,000 years old.

Asked again whether they thought it was a good idea for Tibetans to vote in a referendum on separation, Mr. Ciren responded that "we are not in a position to be
representing the will of the Tibetan people, but I think the people in Tibet will not have a referendum."

The Tibetologists are being sponsored on their trip by the China International Culture Association, which they said was a civil organization, unrelated to the Chinese

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