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China Rejects US Calls for Dialogue with Dalai Lama - 2004-07-13

China has rejected U.S. calls for dialogue between Chinese government and the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

A report issued by the U.S. Department of State says Washington continues to press for Beijing and the Dalai Lama to open a dialogue without preconditions.

Beijing immediately cast off the report as interference by Washington in China's internal affairs. Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue accused the United States of fomenting pro-independence sentiments in Tibet.

"This statement defies the facts on Tibet, and boosts the arrogance of splittist forces following the Dalai Lama," he said.

For decades, the exiled Buddhist leader has led a government in exile in neighboring India. China accuses him of campaigning for Tibetan independence, although the Dalai Lama says he wants autonomy for the region.

In its report, the State Department says Washington hopes contacts between Beijing officials and the Dalai Lama will lead to a negotiated settlement to the dispute, which has festered since Communist Chinese troops overran the mountainous territory in 1951. The Dalai Lama fled into exile eight years later.

At Tuesday's briefing, spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said her government remains open to any offer of dialogue with the Dalai Lama, but she repeated Beijing's conditions for any such contact.

"The Dalai Lama should give up advocating for Tibet's independence; stop his activities, and publicly recognize that Tibet and Taiwan are a part of China," she said.

The United States government says it recognizes Tibet is part of China, but has urged the Chinese to respect the religious, linguistic, and cultural heritage of Tibet's people.

China has protested U.S. high-level contacts with the Dalai Lama, including a meeting between President Bush and the spiritual leader in Washington last September. The United States says it maintains contact with the Dalai Lama in his capacity as an important religious leader and Nobel laureate.

Beijing's criticism of the U.S. report on Tibet came as Chinese officials blasted Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for traveling to Taiwan and meeting with the island's President Chen Shui-bian. Singapore officials said the visit was unofficial, which Beijing said was unlikely.

China expressed what it said is its "strong dissatisfaction" and canceled a trip by the head of its Central Bank to Singapore. Mr. Lee is expected to become Singapore's prime minister in the coming months.