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MPs trip to Dalai Lama's home riles China

June 11, 2009

Daniel Flitton

The Age, June 11, 2009


CHINA has blasted a plan by Australian politicians to meet the Dalai Lama, arguing the trip to the exiled spiritual leader's home in India in effect supports Tibetan independence.


The cross-party group from Federal Parliament will travel to Dharamsala next month to meet the Dalai Lama and other members of the exiled Tibetan community.


It is the first visit by an Australian parliamentary delegation, which includes Labor MPs Michael Danby and Melissa Parke, Liberal Peter Slipper and independent senator Nick Xenophon.


The Chinese embassy in Canberra yesterday criticised the visit as an act of interference in China's internal affairs.


"The visit by a small group of Australian MPs to Dharamsala, where the Tibetan Government in exile is located, and their meeting with Dalai constitute public support to Tibetan independence," a spokesman said in a statement to The Age.


"Tibet has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times. No country or government in the world recognises Tibet as an independent state or recognises the so-called Tibetan government in exile.


"We firmly oppose any interference by outside forces in such issues and statements or actions by any country or people to support, by any means or in any name, the separatist activities of the Dalai clique."


The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising and has since campaigned across the world to pressure China to grant the region autonomy.


Ms Parke said the Dalai Lama was a highly respected world leader who was not seeking independence but to support the right of Tibetan people to practise their culture.


She said the visit offered a chance to hear other perspectives on Tibet following lobbying by Chinese delegations.

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