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China slams protesters, US over Tibet

China slams pro-Tibetan activists who disrupted the Olympic torch relay and lashed out at Washington for interfering in its rule of the Himalayan region.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Beijing
UPDATED ON APR 08, 2008 08:32 AM IST

China on Tuesday slammed pro-Tibetan activists in Paris and London who disrupted the Olympic torch relay and lashed out at Washington for interfering in its rule of the Himalayan region.

Following high-profile demonstrations in London and Paris, with a further protest subsequently breaking out in San Francisco, where the relay makes its next stop on Wednesday, China moved swiftly to hit back.

"We express our strong condemnation (of) the deliberate disruption of the Olympic torch relay by 'Tibetan independence' separatist forces regardless of the Olympic spirit and the law of Britain and France," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu was quoted as saying in state media.

"Their despicable activities tarnish the lofty Olympic spirit and challenge all the people loving the Olympic Games around the world," Xinhua news agency quoted Jiang as saying.

The report said "a handful of Tibetan separatists" in Paris and London had tried to disrupt the torch relay, adding the flame had been warmly welcomed in both cities.

However, police in London arrested 37 protesters who tried to disrupt the high-security tour on Sunday, while in the French capital a day later, officials doused the torch at least four times as hundreds of pro-Tibetan demonstrators disrupted its progress.

Jiang denied early Tuesday the torch had to be extinguished in Paris, a separate Xinhua report quoted her saying.

In the immediate aftermath of the protests, Xinhua also released two separate lengthy unnamed commentaries, the first slamming US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The second editorial strongly criticised the pro-Tibetan activists in London, saying they were wasting their time calling for Tibetan independence and strongly criticising them for "violating Olympic spirits."

The first editorial rounded on Pelosi after she visited the Dalai Lama last month in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, and spoke out against Beijing's "oppression" in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, 72, who has repeatedly said he wants autonomy and not independence for Tibet, fled the Himalayan region in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

"This is a typical example of confusing right with wrong. The Lhasa riots were violent acts premeditated, organised and masterminded by the Dalai clique," the editorial said in response to Pelosi's comments.

Pelosi had spoken out with exiled Tibetan leaders saying more than 150 people were killed in weeks of unrest, beginning on March 10, against Beijing's rule of the Himalayan region.

China says its security forces have killed no-one while trying to quell the protests. It says Tibetan "rioters" have killed 20 people.

Warning Pelosi's comments and US Congressional resolutions on Tibet would harm US-China relations, the commentary said: "The growth of China-US relations has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples and contribute(d) to world peace, stability and development.

"However, those who stick to the 'Cold War mentality' are still trying to distort the truth with bias and disrupt harmony with discord."

The commentary said China had acted "lawfully" in putting down the demonstrations in Tibet.

It added of the Dalai Lama: "The government is ready to continue talks with him as long as he truly abandons advocating 'Tibet independence' and stops activities aimed at splitting the nation, especially activities to instigate and plot violent crimes in Tibet and other regions.

It said he had to stop "activities to sabotage the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games...".

In the first editorial on the protests in London, the Xinhua commentary called for the August Games not to be politicised and said the fact Beijing had won the right to host the Games meant it had the backing of the international community.

"Any acts, motivated by political bias, to instigate some extremist groups and individuals to sabotage the Olympic torch relay will victimise not only the Olympic Games, but the Olympic spirit that embodies the lofty ideals of mankind," the commentary said.

State censorship has meant the Chinese public has been largely unaware of the protests that are likely to follow the torch all the way to Beijing in August.

State-controlled CCTV's late-night news on Monday reported briefly on the protests, saying a small number of people tried to disrupt the flame's journeys through London and Paris.

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