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UPDATED: March 7, 2009
Dalai by No Means a Religious Figure, But a Political One

The Dalai Lama is "by no means a religious figure, but a political figure," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said here Saturday.

The Dalai Lama and his followers insist to establish the so-called "Greater Tibet" on one quarter of the Chinese territory. They want to drive away the Chinese armed forces deployed on its own territory, and all the Chinese people of other ethnic groups who have been living in Tibet for generations, Yang told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session.

"Do you call such a person a religious figure?" he asked.

"Shall German, France or any other country accept the separation of one quarter of their territory," asked Yang.

"Please keep in mind that China has supported the reunification of German (after the cold war)."

The difference between China and Dalai Lama has nothing to do with religion, human rights, ethnic relations and culture. It is an issue of whether to defend China's unity against attempts to separate Tibet from China, he said.

"Other countries should not allow Dalai to visit and should not let him use their territory to engage in secessionist activities."

"It's not a matter of doing a favor to China, but rather an obligation under the basic principals of international relations, "he said, adding it is the wish of China that other countries should respect the principals of international relations, respect international laws, respect China's Constitution and its law on autonomy in ethnic regions.

He said cause for the postponed meeting between China and European leaders last year was not on the Chinese side.

The upcoming meeting between China and European leaders in the first half of this year was made possible not only by a Czech proposal, but rather a result of discussion during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to the European Union headquarters last month," he said.

"It's not a big problem to decide the date of meeting."

(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2009)

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