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February 3, 2010

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China: An Obama-Dalai Lama meeting would harm relations

ANY meeting between US President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama would harm bilateral relations, China warned yesterday.

An Obama meeting with the Dalai Lama would "seriously undermine the political foundation of Sino-US relations," said Zhu Weiqun, the executive deputy head of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department, who was in charge of the talks with the Dalai Lama's representatives in Beijing last week.

Zhu told a news conference in Beijing that officials told the Dalai Lama's envoys that China would not make any compromises on national sovereignty and that the central government's and the Dalai Lama side's views remained "sharply divided."

At another press conference yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu also expressed "strong" opposition against any meeting between foreign politicians and the Dalai Lama.

The warning to Obama comes after signals from US officials in recent weeks that the American president might soon meet the Dalai Lama.

No date for Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama has been announced, but White House spokesman Mike Hammer said last month that "the president has made clear to the Chinese government that we intend to meet with the Dalai Lama. It has been his every intention."

Zhu did not give any details on what China would do if Obama meets the Dalai Lama, saying only: "We will take corresponding measures to make the relevant countries realize their mistakes."

Zhu said Tibet will keep to its own path with or without the Dalai Lama, Zhu said, responding to questions on what will become of the region after the Dalai Lama's death.

"Chinese people, including Tibetans, will decide the future of Tibet," he said.

He said the central government hoped the Dalai Lama, 75, could settle the problems concerning his own prospects while still alive and would not pass away abroad.

Central government officials with met with the Dalai Lama's private representatives, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, last week, more than a year after the Dalai Lama declared an end to contacts following a meeting in November 2008.

The two sides had "sharply divided" views in the latest talks, "as usual," Zhu said.

The central government wanted the Dalai Lama to abandon his stand to split the motherland, cease separatist activities, and openly admit that Tibet and Taiwan are inalienable parts of China.

However, the Dalai Lama's private representatives refused to "revise a single word" in their "Memorandum for All Tibetans to Enjoy Genuine Autonomy," nor to make any concession, Zhu said.

The Dalai Lama's followers continued to openly collude with separatist forces to attack the central government, he said.

Some 10,000 followers of the Dalai Lama staged harassing and wrecking activities in front of more than 40 Chinese foreign missions last year.

With his activities to seek foreign support, the Dalai Lama "has already played the role of a troublemaker, which will make the Chinese people feel antipathy toward him and will create obstacles to contact and talks," he said.


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