China "furious" at Dalai Lama's US award

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BEIJING, Oct 16 (Reuters) China expressed fury today that the United States is to honour the Dalai Lama with an award and warned that the activities of his supporters were increasing in Chinese-controlled Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since staging a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, is to receive the US Congressional Gold Medal yesterday after being hosted at the White House by President George W Bush.

''We are furious,'' Tibet's Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, told reporters. ''If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world.'' China, which views the Dalai Lama as a separatist and a traitor, pulled out of a meeting this week at which world powers were to discuss Iran in protest at the US plan to honour him.

China has also cancelled an annual human rights dialogue with Germany to show is displeasure over German Chancellor Angela Merkel's September meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said China had expressed its ''resolute opposition'' to the award.

''China has solemnly demanded the United States cancel the above-mentioned and extremely wrongful arrangement,'' Yang told reporters on the sidelines of the 17th Communist Party Congress.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that if the decision to honour the Dalai Lama was not reversed it would have an ''extremely serious impact'' on bilateral relations.

China had pulled out of the meeting on Iran for ''technical reasons'', he told a news conference.

China's rhetoric against the Dalai Lama, whom Tibetan Buddhists consider their spiritual leader, has been increasing in line with his accolades abroad, even though the government and the Dalai's envoys are engaged in a tentative dialogue process.

OBSTACLES Tibet officials said the dialogue was not going well.

''Although we have undergone a lot of contacts and talks, the Dalai Lama has consistently supported Tibetan independence,'' said Qiangba Puncog, Tibet's governor.

''Under these circumstances, even though we keep the doors for contact open, there cannot be major development as long as the problem is not resolved.'' The Dalai Lama has said he supports a ''middle way'' policy that advocates autonomy for Tibet within China, but Qiangba Puncog said China believed he still supported independence and warmed that separatist activities in the region were increasing.

''He (the Dalai Lama) should resolutely abandon his Tibetan independence stance and activities,'' Qiangba Puncog said. ''But in my opinion, some of those activities are actually escalating Reuters GL GC1519

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