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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China says only socialism can "save" Tibet

March 8, 2010

Ben Blanchard
February, 28 2010

The new Chinese-appointed governor of Tibet said
on Sunday that only socialism can "save" the
remote region and guarantee its development, and
lampooned the Dalai Lama's indecision on his succession.

China has defended its iron-fisted rule in Tibet,
saying not only did it free a million Tibetan
serfs but it also poured billions of dollars into
the Himalayan region for development.

Padma Choling, an ethnic Tibetan appointed
governor in January, blamed Tibet's problems on
exiled spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize
winner the Dalai Lama, a man reviled by Beijing
as a "separatist" and instigator of anti-Chinese violence.

"The main source of instability in Tibet is the
Dalai Lama, and it is also he who causes trouble
for Tibet's economic development and
socio-economic progress," Padma Choling told
reporters on the sidelines of the annual meeting of parliament.

"But I have to say, we are not the least bit
scared ... as all the peoples of Tibet have
already clearly realized that only the Chinese
Communist Party and socialism can save Tibet, and
only then can Tibet develop," he said in impeccable Chinese.

Protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese
rule in March 2008 gave way to torrid violence,
with rioters torching shops and turning on
residents, especially Han Chinese, who many
Tibetans see as intruders threatening their culture.

At least 19 people died in the 2008 unrest, which
sparked waves of protests across Tibetan areas.
Pro-Tibet groups overseas say more than 200
people were killed in a subsequent crackdown.

The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in
1959 after an abortive uprising, denies China's
charges against him, and says he only seeks more meaningful autonomy for Tibet.

Several rounds of talks in recent years between
the Chinese Communist Party and the Dalai Lama's envoys have yielded little.

Uncertainty also surrounds what will happen once
the aging Dalai Lama passes away.

The Dalai Lama has floated several scenarios,
including that his successor and reincarnation
may not be found in Chinese-controlled territory.

Many Tibetans and pro-Tibet groups fear Beijing
will simply announce its own Dalai Lama, as it
did with the Panchen Lama, Tibetan's Buddhism's
second-highest figure, in 1995. The Dalai Lama's
choice for Panchen Lama, a six-year-old boy, was
swiftly picked up and taken away by the Chinese authorities.

Human rights groups dubbed the child then "the
world's youngest political prisoner."

Padma Choling said that boy was a "victim" of the
Dalai Lama's unilateral decision in 1995 to
recognize him as the 11th Panchen Lama, and that
he was now living a quiet life in Tibet, out of the public gaze.

The governor also poked fun at what he said was
the Dalai Lama's indecision on his succession.

"One minute he says he will be reincarnated, the
next he won't ... One minute he says it can
happen within China, the next it will happen
overseas," he said. "I don't know which one is accurate.

"The Dalai Lama is still alive, let's talk about
it (his reincarnation) again when he dies," the governor added.

(Editing by Benjamin Kang Lim)
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