US honours Dalai Lama; China furious

Beijing, September 14 :

China expressed anger today over the granting of the US Congressional Gold Medal to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, saying the award had damaged Sino-US relations.

“We express our strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a routine briefing. “This has sent very serious, wrong signals to the Tibetan independence forces, seriously interfered into China’s internal affairs and damaged China-US relations.” The US House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday to award the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner the medal, the highest US civilian honour.

The medal has also been given to such diverse individuals as Sir Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

The award is in recognition of the Dalai Lama’s advocacy of religious harmony, non-violence, and human rights and his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue through dialogue with China.

“The US Congress, regardless of the firm and repeated representations from the Chinese side, insisted on adopting the motion granting the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal,” Qin said.

“Words and actions by the Dalai Lama have shown that he is a political exile who has long been engaged in splitting the motherland under the disguise of religion.”