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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 rejects Japanese pressure on Tibet

April 20, 2008

TOKYO 17 Apr 2008 (AFP) — Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on
Thursday rejected Japanese pressure over the Tibet situation,
reiterating that it was a domestic issue in which foreign countries
should not interfere.

Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura told a joint press conference
that he had urged Yang during talks here to "increase transparency and
stressed the importance of dialogue" to resolve the Tibetan problem.

But Yang rebuffed the call, saying he had told Komura "that the Tibetan
issue is China's domestic issue" at a meeting that had aimed to lay the
groundwork for a visit by President Hu Jintao that was confirmed for May
6-10.

"The door is always open to dialogue," Yang said, adding that obstacles
to talks lay with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and his
supporters.

"If they are sincere enough and they abandon a policy of independence
for Tibet and stop violent activities and stop interfering with the
Olympics, we are ready to talk with them," he said.

China has repeatedly blamed people close to the Dalai Lama for
orchestrating unrest in Tibet, which it says is a deliberate attempt to
sabotage the upcoming Beijing Olympics, and accuses him of seeking
independence for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama denies the charges and says he only wants "meaningful
autonomy" for the Himalayan region to preserve Tibet's language, culture
and environment within China, and does not seek independence.

China has made no secret of its displeasure at the Dalai Lama's frequent
visits to Japan, most recently this month, although he was not met by
any Japanese leaders.

Generally improving relations between Tokyo and Beijing have also been
strained by a health scare over Chinese-made dumplings and an ongoing
dispute over lucrative drilling rights to gas fields in the East China Sea.

Japan hopes that Hu's visit next month will take relations between the
two countries to another level of cooperation, said Komura.

"This means not only friendly bilateral ties but also that the two
countries contribute to Asia and the international community as a
whole," he said.

It will be the first visit here by a Chinese head of state in a decade,
and only the second ever.

Although once-icy relations between the two Asian neighbours have thawed
recently, Hu's visit could be clouded by the issue of Tibet, with Japan
repeatedly calling on Beijing to resolve the problem peacefully.

Violence erupted in Tibet on March 14 after protests days earlier to
mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule in
the Himalayan region.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say more than 150 people have been killed in a
Chinese crackdown on the unrest. The Chinese government says that
Tibetan "rioters" killed 20 people.

Yang reiterated China's view that "splittist groups" were behind the unrest.

"It is not a problem of ethnicity nor region nor human rights. It is
about splitting the country," he said.

Since taking office in September, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
has tried to further ease strains in relations between the Asian powers,
which hit rock-bottom just a few years ago.

Yang earlier had expressed "great pleasure" that relations are improving
between the two giants, which are more intertwined economically than
ever before despite often tense diplomatic relations.

China refused all high-level contact with Japan during the 2001-2006
premiership of Junichiro Koizumi due to his annual visits to a shrine
that venerates Japanese war dead including war criminals.
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