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China Objects and MIT Rejects

April 02, 1991

The Dalai Lama's current visit to the United States has brought a number of protests from Chinese officials. The following is one such protest in a letter from Song Youming, China's deputy consul general, to Charles N. Vest, the president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Vest's reply also appears below.

"It came to our attention that the Dalai Lama is going to attend a symposium . . . at MIT and Harvard University on March 23-24 . . .

"The Chinese government has always held that the Dalai Lama is not only a religious personage, but also an exile who engages in political activities aimed at splitting the motherland.

"Therefore, the Chinese government resolutely opposes his visits to other countries in whatever capacity and under whatever reason to deliver reports distorting Tibet's history and current situation or advocating 'Tibetan independence.' It also opposes any country that takes advantage of the 'Tibet issue' to interfere in China's internal affairs.

"With a view to maintaining the Sino-U.S. friendship and cultural exchanges between our two countries, we both should be on our guard against any political scheme under the cloak of religious or cultural activities.

" . . . I hope that you would kindly use your influence to handle this matter properly."

-Song's letter to Vest dated March 20

" . . . The tradition of MIT, and every great university, is to encourage the exploration and discussion of different, often divergent ideas, and this symposium falls squarely within that tradition. The freedom to openly express, challenge and debate different points of view provides the foundation for education and research. I cannot, therefore, agree with you that the participation of the Dalai Lama in this program is inappropriate."

-Vest's reply to Song, dated March 21

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