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'India's position on Tibet is consistent'

world Updated: Mar 24, 2008 00:52 IST

Irked by top US lawmakers hobnobbing with the Dalai Lama in its backyard, China on Sunday claimed that India's position on Tibet has not changed as the Red Army deployed in strength to crush the rebellion in the Himalayan region accused the spiritual leader of holding the Olympic games hostage.

India - which maintains that Tibet is an internal issue of China - has assured Beijing that its position on Tibet is "clear and consistent" and it would not change in the future, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

New Delhi also clarified that Vice President Hamid Ansari had no plans to meet the Dalai Lama, leader of the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamshala, following a "rumour" about such a meeting, he said. "The Indian side has clarified to China on relevant rumour, saying there's no such plan," Qin said.

China is fighting the most vicious protests in two decades in Tibet and nearby areas after riots erupted in Lhasa on March 10 coinciding with the anniversary of the 1959 failed uprising, jolting the Communist leadership.

Bejing claims 19 people have died in the violence but the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamshala claimed that the death toll had reached 100. State-run Xinhua news agency said 94 people had been injured from March 14 to 19 in violent clashes in Gansu province, including 64 police officers, 27 paramilitary police, two government officials and a civilian. This brings to more than 700 the number of people injured in the recent unrest.

On Friday, US Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a high-profile meeting with the 72-year-old Dalai Lama in Dharamshala where she spoke out against China's "oppression" in Tibet and demanded an international probe into China's allegations that he had masterminded the unrest.

The meeting infuriated Beijing which warned other countries and foreigners against meddling in its internal affairs. In a stringing commentary targeting Pelosi, Xinhua accused her of ignoring the violence by the Tibetan rioters. "'Human rights police' like Pelosi are habitually bad tempered and ungenerous when it comes to China, refusing to check their facts and find out the truth of the case," it said.

On the same day Tibetan protesters waving flags and draped in banners carrying anti-China messages such as "Boycott Beijing Olympics" stormed the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi. Police said they arrested 33 people.

Tibetans have been holding almost daily marches in Dharamshala and elsewhere in India demanding boycott of Beijing Olympics slated to be held in August. India has asked Tibetans not to take any action which will affect its relations with other countries, reminding them that they were allowed in the country on the condition that they will refrain from engaging in any political activity.

Another article in the The Liberation Army Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese army, claimed that the "Dalai Lama clique" would inevitably fail to achieve its "goal of independence for Tibet".

"In 2008, all the world's people are looking forward to the Olympics, but the Dalai Lama clique aims to take the Games hostage and force the Chinese government to yield on the 'Tibetan independence' issue," the article said.

"It doesn't matter if the Dalai Lama and his followers disguise themselves under the pretence of 'peace' and 'non-violence' -- their splittist sabotage activities are doomed to fail," it said.

Premier Wen Jiabao had earlier said that Beijing "appreciates" the stand taken by the Indian government to handle the Tibet "independence" activities.