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By Gerry Shih | AP March 7


BEIJING — John Oliver won rave reviews for his “Last Week Tonight” interview showing the Dalai Lama in all his candor and wit. Beijing, however, was not amused.

China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader had appeared “deceptive” on the HBO show where he criticized some Chinese leaders as small minded and mocked Beijing’s portrayal of him as “a demon.”

The Dalai Lama’s comments about the contested issue of his reincarnation “appear to be funny and humorous but they’re all lies,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference. He dismissed the show that aired Sunday night in the U.S. as merely intended for entertainment purposes.

China’s ruling Communist Party has long depicted the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist and frequently objects when he meets with global political leaders and entertainment figures, seeing those events as suggesting he is a world leader himself.

China’s leadership also insists it has the authority to appoint the Dalai Lama’s successor after his death. Traditional beliefs dictate that the highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism will be reincarnated in a boy who would subsequently be recognized as the new Dalai Lama by senior monks. But the current spiritual leader has said he would be happy if the title ends with his death.

During the interview conducted at the Dalai Lama’s residence in India’s northern hill town of Dharmsala, Oliver asked the Dalai Lama if he was worried about the Chinese authorities naming his successor. The Dalai Lama did not answer the question directly but told Oliver that Chinese hard-liners lacked common sense and “that part of the brain.”

“They describe me as a demon,” the Dalai Lama said, referring to Beijing’s officials. “Then I immediately (say) I am a demon with horns,” he said, sticking his fingers up on either side of his head to laugher from Oliver and his audience.

“Whatever they want they want to say, that’s their opinion. I have no negative feelings. I just feel a laugh, like that,” he added. “I practice taking others anger, suspicion, distrust and give them patience, tolerance and compassion. I practice that.”

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