Sunday, May 04, 2008

China renews Dalai Lama criticism

The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India - 2/5/2008
The Dalai Lama has spoken out against the violence in March

Chinese state media has renewed its criticism of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as two of his envoys prepare to meet Chinese officials.

The Tibet Daily repeated accusations that the Dalai Lama had masterminded anti-Chinese riots in Tibet in March. This is a charge he denies.

The Tibetan government-in-exile said his envoys would convey his suggestions for bringing peace to Tibet.

Sunday's talks will be the first such contact since the protests.

Western governments have been pressing China to renew dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

There have been six meetings between China and the Dalai Lama's envoys since 2002, but no breakthrough.

The Tibetan envoys "will convey His Holiness the Dalai Lama's deep concerns about the Chinese authorities' handling of the situation and also provide suggestions to bring peace to the region," a statement from the Dalai Lama's office in Dharamsala, India, said.

There has been no official comment from China about the talks. A spokesman for the Dalai Lama told Japan's Kyodo News agency that the envoys had arrived in Hong Kong and that the meeting would take place in the southern city of Shenzhen.

China's state controlled media meanwhile continued to heap criticism on the Dalai Lama:

"Patriotic people of Tibet strongly condemn and vehemently denounce the litany of crimes committed by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and his followers," said the official Tibet Daily.

Autonomy demands

Anti-China protests led by Buddhist monks began in Lhasa on 10 March and gradually escalated into rioting.

China says at least 19 people were killed by the rioters - but Tibetan exiles say that nearly 100 were killed by the Chinese security forces as they moved to quell the unrest.

The unrest was the worst in the region in 20 years.

The Chinese government blamed the Dalai Lama and his followers for inciting the trouble, saying their goal was to undermine the forthcoming Beijing Olympics and promote Tibetan independence.

"The Dalai clique's hopes of achieving Tibetan independence are increasingly dim, and at this time when their hopes have been destroyed, the Dalai clique launched a bloody violent event - their last bout of madness," the Tibet Daily said on Saturday.

After the riots, pro-Tibetan protesters threw China's global Olympic torch relay into disarray as it passed through several cities, including London, Paris and San Francisco.

The Dalai Lama has repeated his position that he wants increased autonomy for Tibet within China, not independence.

He and the Tibetan government-in-exile have been based in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959.

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