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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chinese Ire Over Dalai Lama Prize

BEIJING -- China has complained to the United States over a decision to award exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese Communist rule of Tibet in 1959, is branded by China as a "separatist."

The Nobel Peace Prize winner says he wants greater autonomy for the predominately Buddhist, Himalayan region.

"The Chinese government strongly opposes the U.S. Congress giving the Dalai Lama a so-called award," spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news briefing.

"We strongly oppose any country or person who uses the Dalai Lama to interfere in China's internal affairs. We have already made solemn representations about this to the U.S. side."

China has already chided German Chancellor Angela Merkel for hosting the Dalai Lama, demanding that Berlin take action to repair damage done to bilateral ties.

China, keen to maintain stability ahead of a key Communist Party meeting next week, is also questioning the loyalty of ethnic Tibetan party members, accusing many of allegiance to the Dalai Lama, according to an internal memo.

This week, China's state media lashed out at the Dalai Lama, accusing him of supporting "evil cults," such as Japan's Aum Shinrikyo and banned Chinese spiritual group Falun Gong.