Defiant China rejects dialogue, vows to smash Tibetan protests
by Charles Whelan
59 minutes ago
BEIJING (AFP) – China turned its back Saturday on appeals for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, vowing to smash anti-China forces in Tibet, where it said the death toll from recent unrest had risen to 19.
A day after Beijing launched a manhunt for monks and others it blamed for violence in Tibet, an editorial in the People’s Daily, mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist party, said opposition to Chinese rule in the Himalayan region must be wiped out.
“China must resolutely crush the conspiracy of sabotage and smash ‘Tibet independence forces’,” the newspaper said in the editorial, rejecting calls from US, European and Asian leaders for talks.
The commentary accused the Dalai Lama of masterminding protests in Tibet in the hope of undermining the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics and gaining Tibet independence from Beijing.
It said that “1.3 billion Chinese people, including the Tibetan people, would allow no person or force to undermine the stability of the region.”
The commentary effectively rebuffed growing international calls for dialogue to end the crackdown on protests that began last week to mark the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Beijing’s rule.
But Tibet’s government-in-exile on Saturday said talks between China and the Dalai Lama were crucial.
“Talks are more necessary than ever before,” Thubten Samphel, spokesman for the administration, told AFP. “China has always pursued this hard line and very forceful military solutions to the problems in Tibet, and these have never worked,” he said.
Earlier Saturday, China said 18 “innocent” civilians and one police officer were killed in rioting in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, raising its official death toll from 13.
Tibet’s government-in-exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala has put the toll from a week of unrest across the Himalayan region and neighbouring provinces at 99.
On Friday, leaders in Japan and Poland joined the United States and other countries in an international appeal for restraint and dialogue.
They were joined on Saturday by 30 prominent Chinese writers and intellectuals who signed a letter to their government urging talks with the Tibetan spiritual leader.
They also called on China to open Tibet up to foreign media and to allow a team of independent UN investigators to carry out a full investigation of “the evidence, the course of the incident, the number of casualties, etc.”.
The signatories, who included Liu Xiaobo, Teng Biao, Wang Qisheng and other noted rights activists, also said China should show evidence it says it possesses that proves the Dalai Lama was behind the uprising.
US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi has also demanded that China come clean on repression in Tibet.
“The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world,” said Pelosi, who was greeted in Dharamshala by thousands of flag-waving Tibetan exiles as she arrived for talks Friday with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.
“What is happening, the world needs to know,” she said.
However, China has responded to the protests with a massive clampdown on the affected areas, and on Friday released a most-wanted list of 19 people caught on film taking part in the Lhasa riots, amid warnings by activist groups of harsh reprisals.
Outside China, street demonstrations against the crackdown in Tibet continued on Saturday in Tokyo, where 600 people took to the streets.
On Friday protesters in Paris burned Chinese flags, while demonstrators in New Delhi stormed the Chinese embassy.
The protests come with less than five months to go before the Beijing Olympics, which is becoming a magnet for more protests over Tibet and other issues.
On Monday the symbolic start to events leading up to the Games is scheduled to take place in Greece on Monday when the Olympic flame is lit.
The so-called sacred Olympic flame is to be lit during a 30-minute ritual in the presence of International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, whose organisation has been sharply criticised for its silence on the Tibet crackdown.
Greek police told AFP that “stringent security” would be applied to deter anti-China protests during the ceremony.
After a tour of Greece, the flame will travel to Beijing for an official send-off ceremony on March 31 for the torch relay on its journey across five continents.
It then returns to China in May for the start of a domestic leg that includes three days in Tibet in mid-June after a scheduled stop at the summit of Mount Everest.
Pro-Tibet groups have said they are planning protests along the international route of the relay and in China.
Beijing insists such protests run counter to the Olympic Charter, which opposes using the Games for political propaganda.
China cracking the heads of Budhist Monks and no one calls them on it. Yet, we do the right thing in Iraq and everyone turns on us, including a number of Americans..