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Dalai Lama accuses China of "arrogance of power" on German visit
DPA[Saturday, September 22, 2007 15:52]
Berlin - The Dalai Lama has accused China of showing 'the arrogance of power' in objecting to his meeting on Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

The 72-year-old religious and political leader said it was senseless to be angry about the way China attempted to interfere in his affairs, in an interview published in the Saturday edition of the Sueddeutsche newspaper.

'That is simply the Chinese attitude. The arrogance of power. Beijing is also interfering in Germany's internal affairs, by demanding that the chancellor should not meet me,' said the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India and is currently on a tour of Europe.

He dismissed the sharp Chinese reaction to his meeting with Merkel - the first ever with a serving German chancellor - as an indication that Beijing was testing the limits of its power.

'I don't belive that my visit to Mrs Merkel will cause long-term damage to Chinese-German relations,' the Dalai Lama said.

The Tibetan leader indicated optimism regarding the situation in Tibet and China as a whole.

'The only opportunity for us is that things are changing in China, and a lot has happened there, by comparison with 30 years ago,' he said in remarks translated from the German.

'And China will continue to change. The Chinese government appears to be in a dilemma with regard to Tibet,' the Dalai Lama said.

Chinese leaders were well aware that their foreign image depended to a large extent on their attitude to Tibet and knew that unity and stability throughout the country depended on peace in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama predicted that if there was trouble in Tibet, this could have knock-on effects on the Chinese provinces of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, where there is also resistance to rule from Beijing.

He pointed out that these three huge provinces made up around half of Chinese territory.

The Dalai Lama emphasized that he was not seeking independence for Tibet, which he left in 1959 to go into exile, following the 1951 invasion by Chinese troops.

And he acknowledged that the mountainous region was economically backward.

But he insisted that Tibet should be under Tibetan control and that the many Chinese who now lived there should either learn Tibetan and accept Tibetan ways or leave.

Merkel meets the Dalai Lama on Sunday afternoon for what German government officials term 'a private exchange of views.' She has met him previously while a member of the opposition.

Gerhard Schroeder, the previous German chancellor, declined to meet the Tibetan leader.

German government spokesman Thomas Steg said the meeting should be seen as part of a series of meetings between Merkel, who is the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, and global religious leaders.

Steg insisted the meeting should not affect Berlin's 'high quality' relations with Beijing, which had been extended during Merkel's visit to China at the end of August.

'The German government believes that the Tibetan problem can only be solved by dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama,' Steg said.

He added that the German government supported Tibet's claim to religious and cultural autonomy.

Merkel and the Dalai Lama are to pose for photographs following their meeting, but are not scheduled to answer journalists' questions.

On Tuesday China warned the German government not to allow the visit and urged it to consider the 'general picture of Chinese-German relations.'

'We hope the German side will not allow the Dalai Lama to visit Germany,' Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

The Dalai Lama's meeting Thursday with Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer also drew condemnation from Beijing.

The Tibetan leader previously visited Spain and Portugal.
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Tibet for Tibetans (khampa1)
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