China says concerned by McCain, Dalai Lama meeting
Tuesday, 29 July 2008

REUTERS, BEIJING- China expressed `deep concern' on Monday over a meeting last week between US Republican presidential candidate John McCain and exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since its troops marched into the remote Himalayan territory in 1950 and accuses the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in 1959 after an abortive uprising, of being a separatist.

McCain met the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in Colorado on Friday and urged China to address human rights concerns and free Tibetan prisoners.

But China's Foreign Ministry repeated its long-standing position that anything to do with Tibet was purely an internal affair.

"The Chinese side expresses deep concern about the above report," spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement, referring to the McCain meeting.

"We oppose the Dalai engaging in splittist activities in any country in any capacity, and oppose anyone using the Dalai issue to interfere in Chinese internal affairs. This position is consistent and clear," he added.

Though China and envoys for the Dalai Lama have met twice this year following rioting in Tibet in March, the government reguarly blasts him for supporting violence, seeking independence for the region and wanting to harm the Beijing Olympics.

The Dalai Lama denies supporting violence, says he wants only true autonomy for the region rather than independence and that he supports China holding the Olympics.

Beijing last year cancelled a number of high-level meetings with German officials after Angela Merkel became the first German chancellor to meet the Dalai Lama.

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