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Invoking Lincoln, China warns Obama
By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-13 08:00

United States President Barack Obama should understand China's opposition to the Dalai Lama as a black president who lauded Abraham Lincoln for ending slavery, said the Foreign Ministry yesterday.

Invoking Lincoln, China warns Obama
Volunteer Xiao Xin holds a rice bowl and chopsticks while standing in front of a sign during a snowfall on the outskirts of Beijing November 12, 2009. The organizer Oxfam Hong Kong, an international NGO, held the activity to call on U.S. President Barack Obama, who will visit China next week, to keep his public promises and ensure that the U.S. plays a key leadership role in the climate negotiations culminating at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. The Chinese characters on the banner reads "Against Climate Change for Poverty People".

Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the remarks when asked to respond to a White House official's comments earlier this week that Obama would be ready to meet the Dalai Lama "at the appropriate time". Obama is expected to arrive in China on Sunday for a highly anticipated visit.

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"Obama has said in a speech that without the efforts of Lincoln he would not have been able to reach his position," Qin said. "He is a black president, and he understands the slavery abolition movement and Lincoln's major significance for that movement."

Qin said China's position is similar to Lincoln's when the nation abolished serfdom in Tibet.

"Thus on this issue we hope that President Obama, more than any other foreign leader, can better, more deeply understand China's stance on protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.

China has long opposed any contact between foreign leaders and the separatist "in any name and form". The matter is among China's core concerns, Qin said.

His comments come as Obama kicked off his maiden Asia trip as president yesterday. After attending the annual Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Singapore and a brief stay in Japan, he will arrive in the financial hub of Shanghai on Sunday for a four-day China visit.

The US president avoided meeting the Dalai Lama in Washington in October but a high-ranking US official has hinted he would make the meeting happen after returning from China.

Qin pointed out yesterday that more than 90 percent of polled Chinese Internet users are against such a meeting.

"The opinion of Chinese people should not be humiliated," he said.

A poll run by Chinese news portal listed a number of choices that should be among the primary issues that China should raise with Obama. As of 8 pm yesterday, the choice of "Stop supporting separatists, including the Dalai Lama" ranked second after a call for the US to stop trade protectionism against China.

"We hope President Obama visits Tibet and tell us whether his ideas about the region is still the same as before," a netizen wrote as a comment to the poll.

Yuan Peng, head of the Institute of US Studies under the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said an immediate meeting with the Dalai Lama after leaving China will seriously damage the achievements of the visit and smear Obama's image among Chinese people.

Tenzin Lhunzub, a native of Lhasa and deputy director of Institute of Social and Economics under the China Tibetology Research Center, said Obama should "change" his stance on Tibet.