Saturday, July 29, 2006

HHDL Row: China Upset with Canada

Friday, July 28, 2006; Ottawa -- (Associated Press):

China is threatening to use its considerable economic strength to penalise Canada following its decision to bestow honorary citizenship on the Dalai Lama.

Canada's gesture toward the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader does not bode well for Canadian-Chinese relations, said Zang Weidong, minister-counselor at the Chinese embassy in Ottawa.

He said China has relayed its disapproval to the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He also demanded that Canada continue to recognise Tibet as a part of China. "We said that Dalai Lama is a separatist, so I don't think he should be honored with that and that will harm the Canadian image and also harm the relationship between China and Canada," Zang told reporters at a news conference.

Honorary status
Parliament adopted a motion on June 22 conferring the honorary status on the Dalai Lama. The honour has been awarded only twice before, to South African leader Nelson Mandela and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved countless Jews from extermination during World War II.

China is Canada's second-largest trading partner, with annual trade worth USD 26.3 billion in 2004, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Zang hinted that Parliament's decision could bring economic repercussions.

"We have 1.3 billion population and the future for China is bright, and China has a big market and we hope we can cooperate with all the countries in the world," Zang said.