Bush Signs Bill Awarding Congressional Gold Medal to Dalai Lama

President Bush has approved a bill awarding Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a Congressional Gold Medal - the highest honor given by the U.S. Congress.

Mr. Bush signed the bill into law Wednesday. It is meant to honor the Dalai Lama's advocacy of religious harmony, nonviolence and human rights.

The Dalai Lama has been on a tour of the United States this month, speaking at universities, visiting a Buddhist monastery, and attending a women's conference in California.

China has protested plans to award the Dalai Lama the medal. Beijing also protested Canada's decision earlier this month to grant the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship.

Beijing has long condemned the Dalai Lama as an enemy of Chinese national unity because of his demands for greater autonomy for Tibet.

China says it strongly opposes any country's offer to give the Buddhist leader a stage for what it considers his separatist activities.