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China blasts Canada for Dalai 
Lama meeting
Politics Watch News Services
October 30, 2007, updated 10:30 a.m.

The Dalai Lama meets with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Prime Minister's Parliament Hill office on Monday, October 29, 2007. 
(Photo courtesy Parliamentary Press Gallery pool/Reuters).

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) —  China's government warned of "consequences" Monday following Prime Minister Stephen Harper's unprecedented meeting with the Dalai Lama.  
"This is quite serious and there must be some consequences, an impact, on our relationship," Sun Lushan, an official with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Ottawa, said at a news conference. 

Lushan never elaborated on what the consequences would be. 

The warning came after Harper met for 40 minutes in his Parliament Hill office with the the exiled Tibetan leader. It was the first time a Canadian prime minister held a public meeting with the Dalai Lama

China considers the Dalai Lama a Tibetan "separatist."

Earlier on Monday, one government cabinet minister was downplaying suggestions the visit could increase tensions with China. When asked if the Dalai Lama's meeting with Harper could have negative trade and economic implications, Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism told reporters, "I don't think so."

"The prime minister has made it clear in the past that foreign governments won't dictate who he meets with here in Canada and it's only appropriate for him to meet with an honourary Canadian citizen who also happens to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate," Kenney told reporters on Parliament Hill.

Kenney pointed out that since Parliament granted honourary citizenship to the Dalai Lama, China's trade and tourism to Canada has increased. 

He later called Harper's meeting with the Dalai Lama "historical," but said he was not at liberty to reveal details about what the two men discussed. 

"I hope that the entire world gets the message that attacking a 72-year-old pacifist Buddhist monk who advocates nothing more than cultural autonomy for his people is counterproductive," Kenney said in an indirect jab at China.

The Conservative government's defiance of China on this visit is the latest episode exposing tensions in Canada-China relations. 

Last year during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation conference in Vietnam, China's President Hu Jintao cancelled a meeting with Harper in a move considered a snub because of the prime minister's criticism of China's human rights record. 

In August, the prime minister publicly expressed concerns about the number of recalls of products made in China and said he would raise the issue at the North American Leaders' Summit in Montebello, Quebec. 
The Dalai Lama also met with Governor General Michaelle Jean and a number of MPs on Monday. He addressed a room of about 40 MPs and other guests at an event on Parliament Hill hosted by Canada's Parliamentary Friends of Tibet. 

Those in attendance included Conservative cabinet ministers Bev Oda and Monte Solberg, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and MPs from all four political parties on Parliament Hill, including Liberals Mauril Belanger and Maurizio Bevilacqua, the NDP's Brian Masse and Nathan Cullen and the Bloc's Michel Guimond

The Dalai Lama thanked Canada's MPs for bestowing honourary citizenship upon him in June and referred to Canada as his "home" now.

He praised Canada for its multiculturalism and bilingualism and its international standing in support of human rights and democracy. 

"It's really a country with genuine human harmony," he said.

In his address, the Dalai Lama denied accusations that he was a separatist and said his goal was not Tibetan independence, but Tibetan autonomy. 

Shortly after he became head of state for Tibet in 1950, communist forces from China invaded the country. The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since a failed Tibetan uprising in 1959. 

NDP MP Peggy Nash was among those MPs in attendance at the Dalai Lama's speech. 

Her Toronto-area riding has the largest community of Tibetans in Canada. 

Nash said the Canadian government should do more and use its relationship with China to "urge them to show leadership on granting full autonomy to Tibet."

"We should be aware of the investments that we have (in Tibet) and as a way to maintain our dialogue with them as we're urging them to take action," she told PoliticsWatch. 

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