Dalai Lama attacked for 'wrecking' ethnic unity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 March, 2010, 12:00am

Beijing and the Dalai Lama have stepped up their war of words on the eve of a sensitive anniversary.

In a further sign that a recent round of dialogue between the two sides has made little progress, the Foreign Ministry and mainland media hit back yesterday at remarks made by the Dalai Lama on the 51st anniversary of his exile to India.

To commemorate the failed uprising in 1959 that led to his exile to Dharamsala, the Tibetan spiritual leader said on Wednesday that China intended to 'annihilate Buddhism' and that monks and nuns in Tibet lived in 'prison-like' conditions.

Sunday marks the second anniversary of bloody rioting that began in Lhasa and later spread to other Tibetan-populated areas.

The Dalai Lama also referred to Xinjiang , another restive border region, as East Turkestan, a term only used by pro-independent exiles.

The Foreign Ministry said his remarks had distorted the situation in Tibet and insulted Beijing's policies in the Himalayan region.

'This exposes and proves his intent and nature on splitting up China and wrecking ethnic unity,' said Qin Gang , a ministry spokesman.

Beijing has long accused the Nobel Peace Prize winner of being a separatist intent on making Tibet independent, a claim that the Dalai Lama has repeatedly denied.

Qin said the Dalai Lama should 'seriously reflect' on his stance and mistakes, 'so that he could create favourable conditions for contacts and negotiation with the central government'.

The Dalai Lama's envoys and Beijing officials held a closed-door meeting in Beijing in January after a 15-month hiatus. Both sides have revealed few details and there has been little sign of progress.

Beijing said the dialogue was only used to discuss the Dalai Lama's personal future - such as whether to allow him back on Chinese soil. The Dalai Lama's envoys had hoped to ask for greater autonomy and the integration of Tibet with other Tibetan-populated regions.

Juma Tayier, vice-chairman of the Xinjiang Islamic Association, told Xinhua the reference to East Turkestan indicated the Dalai Lama was trying to split the country.

'The East Turkestan [Islamic Movement] is known internationally as a terrorist force, how could Dalai Lama publicly support this?'

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a Uygur militant organisation, has been branded a terrorist group by the United Nations.