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Dalai Lama calls China a 'great nation' but criticizes its system of government

APTOPIX Congress Dalai Lama.JPEG

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama meets with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)The Associated Press

The Dalai Lama calls China a "great nation" but warns that its governmental system is "harmful."

The Buddhist spiritual leader spoke Friday at Washington's National Cathedral.

He says Tibetans are willing to remain part of China, though with greater autonomy to preserve their culture and environment.

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have welcomed the Nobel laureate during his U.S. visit, angering Beijing, which regards him as an anti-Chinese separatist.

Asked why China's government was upset by his activities, the Dalai Lama said, quote, "Ask them."

He criticizes China's system as unfair and harmful to individual creativity. He says a number of Chinese people, quote, "show solidarity with us" and want more freedom.

Hundreds demonstrated outside the cathedral, many from a Buddhist sect opposed to the Dalai Lama.

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