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In face of Chinese opposition, Dalai Lama speaks at U.K. festival

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama spoke of love, tolerance and forgiveness at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts in South West England, defying objections expressed by the Chinese government in the days leading up to the event.

The very purpose of existence is “a happy life”, the Nobel laureate told a rain-soaked, sold-out crowd at one of Europe’s largest music festivals, Reuters reported. He said that love, tolerance and forgiveness were necessary to resolve conflicts like those playing out currently in Iraq and Syria.

The speech came two days after Chinese officials warned festival organizers that having the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader speak was on par with providing him with a platform to partake in anti-China activities.

“China resolutely opposes any country, organization, body or individual giving any kind of platform to the 14th Dalai Lama to engage in anti-China splittist activities,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, according to Reuters.

Countries that host the spiritual leader who seeks autonomy for his Tibetan homeland regularly receive objections from Beijing.

The Chinese government issued similarly stern warnings ahead of President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama last year.

China cautioned the United States then that the meeting would “inflict grave damages” on its relationship with the world’s most populous country, the Associated Press reported.

During that speaking tour in the U.S., the Dalai Lama led members of the Senate in their opening prayer.

China has ruled the Himalayan region since 1950. Following a failed uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to northern India, where he has lived in exile ever since.

The Dalai Lama was in England as part of a four-day tour of the United Kingdom to promote compassion, non-violence and the oneness of humanity, according to the festival’s website.

After the U.K., he heads to the U.S., where he will celebrate his 80th birthday on July 6.

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