China calls US medal for Dalai Lama a "farce"

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BEIJING, Oct 17 (Reuters) China's top religious affairs official today condemned as a ''farce'' plans by the US Congress to honour the Dalai Lama and urged Tibet's spiritual leader to abandon his dreams of independence.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since fleeing his predominantly Buddhist homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising against Communist rule, was to receive the US Congressional Gold Medal later today.

Yesterday, President George W Bush hosted the Dalai Lama, despite China's warning that US plans to honour the Nobel Peace laureate could damage relations between Beijing and Washington.

''The protagonist of this farce is the Dalai Lama,'' Ye Xiaowen, director-general of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, told a select group of reporters on the sidelines of the Communist Party's five-yearly conclave.

''What Peking opera has he been singing? The Dalai Lama has engaged in activities splitting the motherland over a long period of time,'' said Ye, a delegate to the 17th Party Congress.

''(After) no one sang along with him, he later said he does not advocate independence. He said he wants a high degree of autonomy and a Greater Tibet, but in reality it's independence in disguise.'' Greater Tibet refers to parts of western Chinese provinces populated by Tibetans and Tibet proper under a single administration.

Without naming Bush by name, Ye said those abetting the Dalai Lama were Christians.

Alluding to the Bible, Ye told the United States not to do unto others as it would not have others do unto it.

The Dalai Lama supports a ''middle way'' approach that advocates autonomy for Tibet within China. But Chinese officials do not trust him and have accused him of being a separatist.

Quoting from Buddhist scriptures, Ye urged the Dalai Lama ''to make efforts to atone for his misdeeds and to repent and be saved''.

Asked if China would appoint a successor if the 14th Dalai Lama dies, Ye said that without exception it would have to follow regulations introduced recently banning reincarnations of ''living Buddhas'' that fail to seek government approval.

Atheist China's attempt to manipulate the centuries-old Tibetan practice of searching for reincarnations of holy monks is stoking anger in the Himalayan region, exiled Tibetans say.

China pulled out of a meeting this month at which world powers were to discuss Iran in protest at the medal for the Dalai Lama. It has also cancelled an annual human rights dialogue with Germany to show its displeasure over German Chancellor Angela Merkel's September meeting with Tibet's god-king.

Reuters PD GC1646

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