China condemns U.S. award for Dalai Lama

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BEIJING, Oct 11 (Reuters) China has complained to the United States over a decision to award exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a US Congressional Gold Medal, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese Communist rule of Tibet in 1959, is branded by China as a ''separatist''.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner says he only wants greater autonomy for the predominately Buddhist Himalayan region.

''The Chinese government strongly opposes the US Congress giving the Dalai Lama a so-called award,'' spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news briefing.

''We strongly oppose any country or person who uses the Dalai Lama to interfere in China's internal affairs. We have already made solemn representations about this to the US side.'' White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said last month that President George W. Bush would attend the October 17 ceremony at the US Capitol.

Bush has previously met the Dalai Lama at the White House.

China has already chided German Chancellor Angela Merkel for hosting the Dalai Lama, demanding Berlin take action to repair damage done to bilateral ties.

China, keen to maintain stability ahead of a key Communist Party meeting next week, is also questioning the loyalty of ethnic Tibetan Party members, accusing many of swearing their true allegiance to the Dalai Lama, according to an internal memo.

This week, China's state media lashed out at the Dalai Lama, accusing him of supporting ''evil cults'', such as Japan's Aum Shinrikyo and banned Chinese spiritual group Falun Gong.

Today, the overseas edition of Party mouthpiece the People's Daily said the Dalai Lama was involved in killing people during an uprising in the 1950s, in violation of Buddhist principles, and that he was a liar.

''The armed rebels set houses on fire, looted Tibetan people and raped women. What happened then still lingers in Tibetan people's minds today,'' said the commentary, signed by somebody called Shi Shan.

REUTERS AE ND1442

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