FURIOUS over a European resolution critical of China's policies in Tibet, mainland officials and senior legislators have accused the European Parliament of conspiring with the Dalai Lama to gain Tibetan independence. In a strongly worded statement, members of the National People's Congress said the European Parliament resolution constituted an 'utterly unjustifiable distortion' and 'brutal interference' in Chinese affairs. The European Parliament resolution condemned a controversial resettlement programme on the mainland which aims to move poor ethnic Chinese farmers on to traditionally Tibetan lands. The long eight-part statement, carried in full by Xinhua, voiced opposition to the resolution's reference to Tibet as a 'country' that China has 'occupied'. 'The resolution has deliberately called the Chinese territory [of Tibet] a country' and 'slandering that China 'occupied' Tibet', Xinhua blasted, adding that 'by doing so, the European Parliament is obviously trying to render support to a handful of separatists led by the Dalai Lama so as to gain its aim to split China'. Beijing has reacted strongly over the collapse of a planned World Bank loan that would have provided US$40 million (HK$309 million) to resettle 60,000 poor Chinese farmers in areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans. The loan to fund the programme in the remote western province of Qinghai drew fierce opposition from pro-Tibetan activists and fell apart earlier this month under pressure from the United States and other World Bank shareholders. The mainland statement rejected accusations in the European Parliament resolution that the resettlement was an attempt to 'assimilate' Tibetans. Beijing has argued it is a legitimate effort to alleviate poverty for both ethnic Chinese and Tibetans.