From Associated Press – An indignant China said Friday the U.S. “seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” when Congress passed a resolution calling on Beijing to stop cracking down on Tibetan dissent and talk to the Dalai Lama.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu labeled the resolution anti-Chinese, saying it misrepresented Tibet’s “history and modern reality.”
“The Chinese side expresses its strong indignation and resolute opposition toward this,” Jiang said in a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site.
Meanwhile, state media labeled a group linked to the Dalai Lama’s India-based government-in-exile a “terrorist organization.” China claims that recent anti-Chinese protests were part of a violent campaign to overthrow Chinese rule and sabotage this summer’s Beijing Olympics.
The resolution in Congress sponsored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and passed on Wednesday called on Beijing to “end its crackdown on nonviolent Tibetan protesters” and put a stop to cultural, religious, economic and linguistic “repression.”
While noting reports of deadly rioting in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas in March, the resolution called China’s response “disproportionate and extreme.” It said hundreds of Tibetans had been killed and thousands detained, but did not say how it obtained its information.
China says 22 people were killed in the riots, many in arson attacks, and over 1,000 detained. The Dalai Lama’s India-based government-in-exile says more than 140 people were killed.
The resolution also called on China to begin an unconditional “results-based dialogue” with the 72-year-old Dalai Lama to address Tibetan concerns and work toward a long-term solution to the dispute.
China has held six rounds of contacts with representatives of the Dalai Lama with no apparent result, and has demanded he meet numerous preconditions before it will talk to him directly.
Jiang said the resolution failed to condemn the “Dalai clique” that China blames for orchestrating the protests that began peacefully on March 10 among Buddhist monks in Lhasa before spiraling into violence four days later. Beijing has called the protests a plot to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games and advance the cause of Tibetan independence.
The resolution “makes willful accusations against the … lawful handling of the serious violent criminal incident in Lhasa and crudely interferes in China’s internal affairs,” Jiang said.
China has stepped up condemnation of Tibetan protesters following major demonstrations when the Olympic torch passed through San Francisco, London and Paris this week on its relay around the world.
Thousands of protesters angry at China’s Tibet policies, human rights record and friendly ties with Sudan have attempted to block the torch’s passage, with some individuals seeking to grab it or extinguish the flame.
The San Francisco route was changed and shortened to sidestep demonstrations, but the International Olympic Committee said it had no plans to cancel the rest of the relay, which was to continue Friday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
On Friday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency accused the Tibetan Youth Congress of planning the rioting in Lhasa, saying it “exposed the terrorist nature” of the group.
The congress organized recent protests in India and elsewhere overseas, coinciding with the demonstrations that began peacefully among Buddhist monks in Lhasa before spiraling into violence four days later.
“The crimes made the organization look like a kin member of al-Qaida, Chechnyan armed terrorists and ‘East Turkistan’ separatists,” Xinhua said. East Turkistan is another name for China-controlled Xinjiang, where separatists among its Muslim Turkic ethnic group have been staging a low-intensity insurgency.
Xinhua cited alleged statements and speeches by Youth Congress leaders, as well as a purported plot to smuggle weapons into Tibet to launch attacks. The allegations were impossible to verify.
“Judging by these criteria, the TYC is a terrorist organization in a pure sense,” Xinhua said.
The accusation was among the strongest against an exile Tibetan group in the latest round of anti-government protests. Chinese police earlier this month accused radicals of organizing “suicide squads to launch violent attacks.”
Scholars say the accusations help the government justify its crackdown and demonize the opposition while driving a wedge between the government-in-exile and groups like the Tibetan Youth Congress that have challenged the Dalai Lama’s policy of nonviolence.
China plans to carry the Olympic torch over Mount Everest and through Tibet, but jitters about protests during that leg apparently prompted a reversal of a decision to reopen Tibet to foreign tourists on May 1, the start of a three-day national holiday.
Foreigners have not received permits to visit the Himalayan region since the Lhasa protests. Tour operators said Thursday the Tibetan Tourism Bureau told them this week to stop arranging trips for foreigners. They said the bureau cited the need for safe passage for the torch relay to the summit of Everest, as well as continuing safety concerns in Lhasa.
On Thursday, the Dalai Lama said he supports China’s hosting of the Olympics but insisted that nobody had the right to tell protesters demanding freedom for Tibet “to shut up.”