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China warns Germany over Dalai Lama visit

AFP · 20 May 2008, 16:42

Published: 20 May 2008 16:42 GMT+02:00

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The visit - part of a five-nation tour - comes eight months after German Chancellor Angela Merkel caused a diplomatic row with Beijing when she met the Dalai Lama in the face of Chinese protests.

"We oppose any country, group or individual using the Dalai to interfere in China's internal affairs," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told journalists. "We hope that Germany can take concrete measures to realise its commitments (to oppose Tibet independence) and to not support in any form or connive with the Dalai's anti-China separatist activities on German soil."

Qin declined to comment directly on an olive branch held out by the Dalai Lama during a speech in Berlin on Monday in which he insisted he is not seeking independence for the Himalayan region, which China annexed in 1951, but rather cultural autonomy.

"I see many Tibetan flags here. I want to make clear that is not to be considered something against China. This is not a separatist movement," the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner told 25,000 supporters at Brandenburg Gate.

He also called for continued dialogue with China as it clamped down on protests in Tibet that have erupted in recent months and drawn international attention ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.

During his stay in Berlin, which ended Monday, the exiled leader held talks with German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and met the foreign affairs committee of parliament.

Chancellor Merkel met the Dalai Lama in Berlin in September, causing a diplomatic rift with Beijing that has only recently begun to heal.

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"With the joint efforts from both sides, Chinese-German relations are gradually coming back to the normal track," Qin said. "The German government has expressed on many occasions that it adheres to the one China policy and does not support or encourage any attempts at Tibet independence."

On Tuesday the Dalai Lama arrived in Britain for an 11-day visit. He will also go to Australia, the United States and France as part of a three-month Western tour ending in mid-August - just before the conclusion of the Beijing Olympics.

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