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Bush dismisses China’s criticism over Dalai Lama

Posted by Author on October 18, 2007

James Orr and agencies, Guardian Unlimited, Wednesday October 17, 2007-

The US president, George Bush, today denied that he had risked damaging American relations with China by attending an award ceremony for the Dalai Lama, and urged Beijing to permit religious freedom.

China has vehemently protested over the public ceremony at which the exiled spiritual leader and 1989 Nobel peace prize laureate was awarded America’s highest civilian honour, the Congressional gold medal.

Mr Bush said the Dalai Lama was a “universal symbol of peace and tolerance, a shepherd of the faithful and a keeper of the flame for his people” as he handed him the award.

“America cannot look to the plight of the religiously oppressed and close their eyes or turn away,” he said.

Beijing regards the 72-year-old, who lives in exile in India, as a Tibetan separatist.

Earlier this week the Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, said the award “seriously wounded the feelings of the Chinese people”.

Mr Bush today defended his attendance at the ceremony.

“I’m going because I want to honour this man,” he told a press conference.

“I have consistently told the Chinese that religious freedom is in their nation’s interest. I’ve also told them that it’s in their interest to meet with the Dalai Lama and will say so at the ceremony.

“They didn’t like it, of course. But I don’t think it’s going to damage – severely damage – relations.”

Speaking after he collected the medal, the Dalai Lama said he was interested only in autonomy for Tibet – not independence from China.

“I believe, given the obvious benefits, especially in economic development, this would be in the best interest for the Tibetan people,” he said. “Furthermore, I have no intention of using any agreement on autonomy as a stepping stone for Tibet’s independence.

“I have explained these in detail [to the Chinese leadership] through my envoys. Despite all this, Beijing continues to allege that my hidden agenda is a separation and restoration Tibet’s old social political system. Such a notion is unfounded and untrue.”

The medal shows an image of the smiling Dalai Lama, with mountains rising behind him. Across the top, the medal reads “14th Dalai Lama of Tibet”…… (more details from the Guardian)

One Response to “Bush dismisses China’s criticism over Dalai Lama”

  1. Libertad religiosa en China

    Las autoridades chinas han prohibido la Biblia entre otros objetos peligrosos para la seguridad en las Olimpiadas de Pekn 2008 y estn capturando y condenando a la esclavitud a las musulmanas de la etnia Uighur (habeis odo a algn musulmn protest…

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