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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Naval Rebuff Could Be Reply to Dalai Lama's Medal

November 26, 2007

By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, November 24, 2007; A14

BEIJING, Nov. 23 -- China's refusal to allow a U.S. aircraft carrier 
to dock in Hong Kong on Thanksgiving -- a port call planned months in 
advance -- was probably a response to President Bush's appearance 
with the Dalai Lama last month, a longtime specialist in U.S.-China 
relations said Friday.

"The U.S. selling weapons to Taiwan is an old issue, and China 
expresses its dissatisfaction constantly on that," said Shi Yinhong, 
a professor of international relations at People's University in 
Beijing. By blocking the warship and its support vessels, "China just 
hoped to use its reluctance, changing its attitude, to tell the 
United States that China is unhappy with Bush" over his decision to 
personally present the Congressional Gold Medal to the Tibetan 
spiritual leader.

The Washington ceremony marked the first public appearance by a 
sitting U.S. president with the 14th Dalai Lama.

This week, the Dalai Lama further infuriated Beijing by reportedly 
calling for his successor to be elected or picked by him without 
Chinese approval.

On Thursday, China turned away the USS Kitty Hawk, which has 
previously docked in Hong Kong, a common rest and recuperation stop 
for U.S. Navy vessels. Hours later, China changed its mind, with 
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao telling reporters, "It is a 
decision out of humanitarian consideration only."

But by then, the carrier, four warships and a nuclear submarine were 
already 250 miles out to sea and a decision was made to continue on 
to their base in Japan. The 8,000 personnel aboard marked 
Thanksgiving at sea.

A few days earlier, two U.S. minesweepers had been denied permission 
to refuel in Hong Kong and wait out bad weather there, the head of 
the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, told the 
Associated Press.

Many points of tension exist between the United States and China, 
including trade, military issues and how to deal with Iran's nuclear 
program. But China takes special interest in the Dalai Lama, calling 
him a dangerous "splittist" who threatens the sovereignty of China. 
Chinese officials contend that he secretly advocates independence for 
Tibet, rather than just autonomy.

Traditionally, a new Dalai Lama, who is believed to be a 
reincarnation of a past lama, is selected by senior Tibetan monks who 
search for a boy born around the time of the death of the preceding 
lama. The Chinese government recently announced that it must approve 
all lama appointments.

This week, the Dalai Lama was quoted in a Japanese newspaper as 
saying that the Tibetan people would not support a successor who was 
selected by China. "If the Tibetan people wish to uphold the Dalai 
Lama system, one possibility would be to select the next Dalai Lama 
while I am still living. Among options being considered are a 
democratic selection by the high monks of Tibetan Buddhism, or the 
appointment of a successor by myself," the Dalai Lama said, according 
to the Sankei Shimbun.

The Dalai Lama, who is 72, said that if he is reborn, it is unlikely 
to be in Tibet.

Liu, speaking at the same news conference where he briefly addressed 
China's reversal on the USS Kitty Hawk, said the Dalai Lama's 
appointment of a successor would "violate the religious rituals and 
the historical conventions of Tibetan Buddhism."
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