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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."

Did Jean Chrétien misspeak on meeting the Dalai Lama?

December 19, 2008

By Matthew Burrows
Georgia Straight
December 18, 2008
 
 
A year ago, former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien was in Vancouver promoting his book, My Years as Prime Minister (Knopf Canada, $39.95).
 
When he spoke to Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith, Chrétien touched on the fact he can appreciate China’s hostile attitude towards the Dalai Lama.
 
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising on March 10, we can expect more news coverage concerning the Dalai Lama.
 
When Smith interviewed Chrétien, he claimed he had not met with the exiled spiritual leader. And for good measure, he threw in the usual Chrétien political knife-thrust.
 
“I respect him as a great religious leader, but for the Chinese, he is a separatist leader,” Chrétien said at the time. “A guy like Chrétien don’t like separatists very much, whoever they are.”
 
According to evidence from the Canada Tibet Committee’s national office, he liked the Dalai Lama enough to meet with him, despite what he told the Straight.
 
Was it a misspeak? How else to explain the photograph from 1990 that appears at the top of this story?
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