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Terrorism & Security

Dalai Lama's US visit roils US-China relations

The exiled leader's visit to the US comes amid ongoing tensions over Tibet.

By / April 15, 2008

The Dalai Lama's high-profile visit is stirring pro- and anti-China sentiment in the US as the White House prepares to host the exiled Tibetan leader next week. The meeting is likely to be sensitive for US-China relations, as China continues to reject Western criticism of its handling of widespread unrest in Tibet amid increasing international calls to boycott the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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The Dalai Lama has repeatedly denied any involvement and condemned violence in Tibet. Last week, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate arrived in Seattle to attend a conference on compassion at the University of Washington. While thousands gathered to hear him speak Monday of peace and dialogue, hundreds of people, mostly Chinese-Americans protested outside the venue against the Dalai Lama, reports the Associated Press.

Demonstrators held signs alleging media bias and protesting the violence from rioting by Tibetan monks.
Some echoed Beijing's stand that the Dalai Lama is behind the recent uprising against five decades of Chinese rule. Signs called the Dalai Lama a liar and a "CIA-funded militant." Many people waved large Chinese flags.
"I think that people are misinformed. They have media discrimination," demonstrator Jiange Li said. "Tibet was freed – 50 years ago."

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that protesters sang the Chinese national anthem and waved American and Chinese flags. A small plane circled above the university, pulling banner that read DALAI UR SMILES CHARM, UR ACTIONS HARM. One organizer said ethnic Chinese had paid for the flight.

President Bush's special envoy on Tibet, Paula Dobriansky, is due to meet the Dalai Lama next week. It will be the highest-level meeting with the US administration since the unrest began. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that a Chinese envoy in Washington criticized the US for the planned meeting, as it amounted to interfering in China's "internal affairs." A State Department spokesman called for dialogue between Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama.


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