Wed, Jun 13, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Dalai Lama warns against trying to contain China

AGENCIES , CANBERRA

The Dalai Lama warned major countries yesterday not to try to contain China's economic and military rise and urged countries like Australia to use their trading clout to pressure Beijing on human rights.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, speaking in Canberra, said he shared concerns about growing strategic and trade ties between the US, India, Japan and Australia, which Beijing has interpreted as moves toward encirclement.

"It is absolutely wrong to isolate China and also contain China. It's wrong, morally also wrong," the Dalai Lama told the Australian National Press Club.

"China must be brought into the mainstream of the world community, and now fortunately China themselves [sic] want to join the world community. Most welcome. Very good," he said.

"However ... while you are making good relations, genuine friendship with China, certain principles such as human rights and also democracy, rule of law, free press, these things you should stand firm. That means you are a true friend of China," he said.

The US, Japan and Australia have said their growing defense ties are not aimed at containing China, even though India last month joined the three in security talks.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard and pro-China Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd said yesterday they would ignore pressure from the Chinese embassy in Canberra not to meet the Tibetan Buddhist leader, despite vague warnings of repercussions.

Howard and Rudd initially said they would not meet the Dalai Lama during his 10-day visit to Australia, which began last week.

But following accusations of kowtowing to China, they both said they would check their diaries to see whether they had time.

Howard found he could make time to meet the Dalai Lama on Friday in Sydney. Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat, met him yesterday at a Canberra hotel.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) criticized the Dalai Lama's visit to Australia.

"The Dalai is not a purely religious figure; he is a long-term political exile who engages in splitting the motherland and sabotaging unity among ethnic groups," Qin said.

"We express our strong dissatisfaction and stern representations over Australia ignoring China and insisting on allowing the Dalai to engage in activities in Australia," he said.

The Australia Tibet Council urged Rudd, who is riding high in the polls, to support greater autonomy for Tibet if he won power in a general election later this year.

But China warned Australia against supporting Tibet.

"The issues of the Dalai and Tibet are absolutely not human rights issues, but issues about separatism and anti-separatism. We hope that the Australian government will be able to fully understand this issue," Qin said.

The Dalai Lama admitted China's fast-growing world influence was hampering his access to some world leaders to press demands for greater autonomy -- not independence -- for his homeland.

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