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World - Asia/Pacific

Dalai Lama says Tibetan people 'fed up' with Chinese rule

The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama  

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Dalai Lama of Tibet said Saturday night his people are "fed up" with Chinese rule. He pleaded for international help, saying his homeland and culture are "in danger of extinction."

He spoke to the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington. Tibet, which lies north of the Himalayas, is now a province of China.

White House expected to name new Tibet coordinator

As the Dalai Lama visits the United States, there are reports the Clinton administration will soon appoint Wendy Sherman, a top aide to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as the new special coordinator for Tibet.

Her appointment is expected to highlight U.S. interest in human rights in Tibet, according to administration and congressional officials.

Sherman would replace Greg Craig, who has left the State Department to join the legal team defending President Bill Clinton against impeachment charges.

Sherman is expected to retain her position as a State Department counselor while filling the coordinator role.

Beijing, which is extremely sensitive about Tibet, refused to deal with Craig as special coordinator, arguing that the appointment reflected an attempt by Washington to interfere in China's internal affairs.

As a result, Craig functioned primarily as a liaison to the Tibetan community and its U.S. supporters, a group of growing size and political clout.

Craig, who attended Saturday's gathering, declined to comment on the report of Sherman's appointment.

Goldie Hawn: Pay attention

Actress Goldie Hawn, who also attended, told CNN she supports the Tibetan people's cause. Asked if there is any specific action she would like the White House to take on Tibet's behalf, she replied, "Rome was not built in a day.... Pay attention."

The Dalai Lama, exiled religious leader of Tibet, is on a nine-day trip to the United States to focus attention on China's treatment of Tibet, its Buddhist religion and its culture.

A Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Dalai Lama is expected to meet Clinton at the White House this week and to talk with Albright.

Beijing has long accused the Tibetan leader of trying to split China, while the United States has pressed for a dialogue between Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama.

The Americans have said that if China eased its hold on the region or released some political prisoners, the confidence-building gesture would lay groundwork for a dialogue and resonate positively in the United States.

Jiang: 'The door is open for dialogue'

At a summit last June in Beijing with Clinton, Chinese President Jiang Zemin stunned the Americans by discussing Tibet publicly and suggesting he was ready for talks.

"As long as the Dalai Lama recognizes Tibet is an inalienable part of China and that Taiwan is a province of China, then the door is open for dialogue and negotiations. I hope the Dalai Lama will make a positive response," Jiang said then.

The Dalai Lama has already renounced Tibetan independence, and Tibetans see complicating the discussion with Taiwan as an irrelevant distraction.

Sources close to the Tibetan exile movement speculate the Dalai Lama may make a gesture to Beijing during his U.S. visit.

But U.S. officials said this seems unlikely, as it appears he has not yet discussed the issue with Beijing.

China's suppression of Tibetan nationalism has made the Himalayan region's fate a deeply emotive issue in the United States, where the Dalai Lama enjoys a spiritual star status, with support from Hollywood personalities.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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