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10february2011011234London: New Zealand, this week, joined the growing number of countries establishing Chinese-Tibetan Friendship Associations. The organisation hopes to bridge the gap between China and Tibet to strengthen better understanding between the two communities and to promote peace and stability in China and Tibet.

Chinese-Tibetan Friendship Association began in July 2008, with the launch of the Australian branch. His Holiness the Dalai Lama suggested during his visit to Australia suggested the formation of a Friendship Association between the Han Chinese and the Tibetans, to promote harmonious society. Based on this suggestion, Mr Tenzin Atisha, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Australia, announced formation of the Friendship Association of Han Chinese and Tibetans on 6 July, during the celebration of the 73rd birthday of His Holiness.

Since the Australian association many other countries, including Japan and Europe have also followed suit and formed additional Chinese-Tibetan Friendship Associations. The newly formed association intends to uphold similar objectives as Ms Dadon, the Chinese liaison officer at the Office of Tibet in Canberra explained, " The newly formed association would help to strengthen efforts to bring a mutually beneficial solution to the issue of Tibet through the Middle-Way policy, and to clear doubts and misunderstandings between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples."

The New Zealand branch of the growing phenomena was formed voluntarily by a group of educated Chinese and Tibetans living in Auckland. It was officially launched at their first event on February 6th. Around 30 people, consisting of members of the local Chinese and Tibetan communities, Tibet supporters, Chinese liaison officer of the Office of Tibet in Australia, editor of a Chinese newspaper in Auckland and journalists, attended the function.

Chen Weijian, the association's vice-president and a long time Chinese supporter of Tibet, said: "The Chinese-Tibetan Friendship Association in New Zealand has been instituted in accordance to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's advice on the need for such an association to foster friendship and trust between the two communities. The association would make efforts to facilitate better understanding amongst the Chinese people about the issue of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visions."

Mr Rinchen, president of the association, addressed the gathering on the association's objectives and its future plan of action. "The Chinese government is making different deceitful schemes and propaganda to sow discord and obstacles between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples. We need to make efforts to clear our doubts and misunderstandings through the Middle-Way policy envisioned and endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people respectively."

Mr. Rinchen concluded by adding that both countries events would be commemorated and celebrated together, including His Holiness' birthday, Tibetan National Uprising Day and Chinese democracy movement day.

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