Hundreds of pro-China demonstrators protest outside Dalai Lama speech at Seattle college
By MANUEL VALDES, AP
April 15, 2008, 12:00 am TWN
SEATTLE -- In a showing of pro-Chinese support, hundreds of demonstrators protested outside a college arena as the Dalai Lama spoke to students on solving problems through dialogue.
Thousands of people have flocked to Seattle to hear the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader speak since he arrived Thursday for a five-day conference on compassion, but the city's Chinese community had remained largely silent until Monday.
Demonstrators held signs alleging media bias and protesting the violence from rioting by Tibetan monks.
Some echoed Beijing's stand that the Dalai Lama is behind the recent uprising against five decades of Chinese rule. Signs called the Dalai Lama a liar and a "CIA-funded militant." Many people waved large Chinese flags.
"I think that people are misinformed. They have media discrimination," demonstrator Jiange Li said. "Tibet was freed - 50 years ago."
The group chanted "We love Tibet," "Stop lying" and "Dalai, your smiles charm, your actions harm," as thousands of people filed into the University of Washington arena. A small plane flew overhead with a banner mirroring the chants.
The China-born community is the largest Asian immigrant group in Seattle, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.
However, Seattle has historically been friendly to the Tibetan cause. The Dalai Lama has visited the city several times and has always been warmly welcomed.
Inside the arena, the Dalai Lama received an honorary degree and spoke of the importance of employing dialogue and mutual respect to solve problems.
He was greeted by a standing ovation. University president Mark Emmert welcomed the Tibetan leader, calling him the "pre-eminent spiritual leader of our time."
"You will make this century of peace," the Dalai Lama told students. "Today's world (is) heavily interdependent. Destruction of your neighbor or enemy is destruction of yourself."
He said dialogue is the only way to solve conflict, especially because he sees poverty and environmental problems increasing in the future.
While his visit to the United States was billed as nonpolitical, the Dalai Lama is expected to meet with a senior U.S. official next week to discuss China's crackdown on anti-Beijing protesters in Tibet.