Tuesday, August 22, 2006

China Warns Mongolia Over HHDL Visit

As reported 8.22.06 by Agence France-Presse

BEIJING -- China warned again Tuesday it was opposed to any country offering the Dalai Lama a political stage, after the Tibetan spiritual leader began his seventh visit to neighboring Mongolia.

"The Dalai Lama is not merely a religious figure, but a political exile that over a lengthy period has engaged in splittist activities and hurt national unity," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"China is resolutely opposed to any country offering him a stage to engage in the above-mentioned activities," it said.

The faxed statement to Agence France-Presse was in response to a request for comment on the Dalai Lama's visit to Mongolia, which began late on Monday and is expected to last a week.

Mongolia's biggest monastery, Gandantegcheling, which is officially hosting the Buddhist leader, said he would give several lectures and make public appearances during his week-long visit, including one at a sports stadium.

But in a sign of the sensitive nature of the trip and its potential to impact on Mongolia-China ties, the monastery did not give details on whether the Dalai Lama would meet with government officials.

Beijing has ruled Tibet since 1951 and opposes any countries receiving the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 amid a failed uprising crushed by the Chinese military.

Despite the Dalai Lama insisting he only wants limited autonomy for his homeland under Chinese rule, China considers him a politician bent on independence for Tibet.

In 2002, the last time the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia, China showed its anger by blocking trains at the border and warning Mongolian officials not to meet with him.

The Mongolian government was avoiding appearing as the organizer of this week's visit, with all press inquiries and journalist accreditations handled by the monastery.