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China says can't remember Dalai Lama's birthday

July 12, 2010

The Washington Post
July 6, 2010

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China does not keep track of
the Dalai Lama's birthday, which fell on Tuesday,
preferring to remember the date of Tibet's
"peaceful liberation" and "serf emancipation day", a government spokesman said.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, now 75, has
had health problems in recent years which have
been closely followed by both exiles and the
Chinese government, because of uncertainty about who will succeed him.

Beijing claims a historical right to final
approval of any reincarnation of the Dalai Lama
and other senior Tibetan religious figures, which is disputed by exiles.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang
said he was not keeping track of the Dalai Lama's
age, and suggested people devote themselves to remembering other landmarks.

"I can only remember two dates," said Qin, when
asked about the Dalai Lama's birthday.

"One is March 28, 1951, which was the day of
Tibet's peaceful liberation; the other is May 23,
1959, when Tibet began its democratic reforms,
and which we now call Serf Emancipation Day," he
added. "Please remember to keep these two dates
in mind." Chinese Communist troops marched into
Tibet in 1950. The Dalai Lama fled in 1959 after
a failed uprising against Chinese rule, and has
since campaigned for self-rule from exile.

China's Communist Party-run government says that
Tibet has historically belonged to China, and it
is spending generously there to develop a poor
remote area. Officials accuse the Dalai Lama of
fanning a violent campaign for separatism.

The Dalai Lama denies China's charges against
him, and says he only seeks more meaningful
autonomy for Tibet. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard, editing by Paul Casciato)

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