Thursday, September 14, 2006

China Expresses "Strong Dissatisfaction" Over US Congressional Gold Medal for Dalai Lama

As reported by the Associated Press, published September 14, 2006

BEIJING -- China on Thursday denounced a decision by the U.S. Congress to award the Dalai Lama a Congressional Gold Medal, its highest honor.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the bill, which recognizes the exiled spiritual leader for "his many enduring and outstanding contributions to peace, nonviolence, human rights, and religious understanding."

It was also passed by the Senate in May but now requires the signature of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Qin Gang, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday said the decision "seriously interferes with China's internal affairs and damages China-U.S. relations."

"We express our strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition," he said at a regular briefing.

The Dalai Lama, one of the figures most reviled by the Beijing leadership, fled to India following a failed uprising nine years after Communist troops marched in Tibet in 1950.

The Chinese government accuses the Dalai Lama of waging a clandestine campaign for formal independence, though he says he wants only greater autonomy in hopes of preserving Tibet's Buddhist culture.

"The words and actions of the Dalai Lama have shown for several decades that he is a political exile" who has long been engaged in activities disguised as religion, Qin said.

"He has never, ever stopped his Tibetan independence activities."

The Congressional Gold Medal has also been awarded to Sir Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.I

n 1989, the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize -- a move strongly condemned by Beijing.