Wen calls on Dalai Lama to preach calm
Choi Chi-yuk in Vientiane and Raymond Li
Talks could follow Tibetan spiritual leader's use of influence on rioters, premier says
Premier Wen Jiabao has urged the Dalai Lama to use his influence to stop the ongoing violence in Tibet before the central government resumes talks with the Tibetan spiritual leader.
The premier, who is in Laos for the Third Greater Mekong Sub-Region Summit opening in Vientiane today, said 'the door is always open for dialogue with the Dalai Lama provided he gives up his position on independence and recognises Tibet and Taiwan are inseparable parts of Chinese territory'.
He said that the Dalai Lama should use his influence to end the unrest in Tibet.
The premier also appealed to the international community, including media outlets, to adopt an objective viewpoint of the Tibet crisis.
His appeal comes as mainland authorities have come under mounting pressure from the international community to engage the Dalai Lama in resolving the crisis in Tibet or face further backlash in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics in August.
Mr Wen's toned-down rhetoric towards the revered Tibetan leader seems a departure from the often harsh official line. The exiled spiritual leader has been accused of masterminding the violence in Lhasa and many Tibetan-populated areas in neighbouring provinces that has resulted in 18 deaths - according to the official count.
The worst rioting to hit the volatile Himalayan region in more than two decades erupted in Lhasa on March 14 and has seen many Han Chinese killed or wounded and their shops looted and burned.
Tibetan rights groups say more than 100 Tibetans have been killed since Beijing launched a crackdown on peaceful demonstrations by Tibetan monks and that hundreds of monks have been detained.
In the latest salvo against the Dalai Lama, Xinhua compiled a 'fact checklist' chronicling the Dalai Lama's alleged involvement in masterminding and fanning the rioting in Tibet and efforts of the so-called Dalai clique to derail the Olympics.
Referring to a 2004 statement from an official in charge of the '2008 Free Tibet Movement', saying 'the world will watch China closely and that has created a unique opportunity to exert political pressure on China', Xinhua said that 'the Dalai clique' had begun pushing for independence through the disruption of the 2008 Games right after Beijing's successful bid.
Quoting an unidentified suspect linked to the Lhasa violence, Xinhua added that the security department of the 'Tibetan government-in-exile' ordered the suspect to distribute leaflets promoting the so-called 'Tibetan people's uprising' in Tibet.
'For the sake of protecting myself, [the Dalai Lama clique] asked me not to participate in the demonstrations in person, just to be in charge of stirring people up,' the suspect said.
The Xinhua report also referred to a closed-door meeting held by 'the Dalai Lama clique' on how to expand the 'achievements' on the same day violence broke out.
A day after the violence on March 14, the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), a 'hardline organisation openly supporting Tibetan independence', decided to 'set up guerillas to infiltrate Tibet and start armed struggles' at a meeting in Dharamsala, where the Tibetan government-in-exile was located, the article said.
The TYC leaders said they were ready to sacrifice at least another 100 Tibetans to achieve their goal, the article said.
Premier Wen has maintained that the incident was 'a violent criminal act involving looting and arson that is detrimental to the basic interests of people of all ethnicities'.
He pledged to uphold religious freedom under the rule of the constitution and the law and to preserve Tibetan culture and the ecosystem of the region.