China's Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday repeated claims that the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, threatens the unity of the nation and may be trying to separate his Himalayan homeland from China.
Surveying the situation in crucial outlying regions within China's sphere, Wen also criticized what he called the "plots taken by secessionist forces" in Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China claims, and praised Hong Kong for having the "freest economy in the world."
Wen's remarks came in an annual news conference that's the only chance for journalists to question China's senior leadership.
Speaking for two hours from a rostrum bedecked with flowers, Wen discounted any chance that he would meet with the Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, unless the Dalai Lama categorically accepted China's dominance of Tibet.
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