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China unleashes new attacks on Dalai Lama, but vows to keep up contacts with Tibetan leader

May 9, 2008

By Joseph Coleman
The Star Tribune/Associated Press
May 7, 2008

TOKYO - China mounted a broad attack on the Dalai Lama on Wednesday,
with President Hu Jintao accusing the Tibetan spiritual leader of
inciting violence and Chinese state media saying he is plotting the
division of China.

The fresh criticism came even as Hu — at a summit with Japan's prime
minister in Tokyo — vowed to push ahead with talks initiated earlier
this month between Beijing and representatives of the Tibetan
government-in-exile.

"The next step is we are going to have further contact. Our contacts
with the Dalai's personal representatives are serious," Hu told
reporters, dropping the Tibetan spiritual leader's honorific title, Lama.

"We hope that the Dalai will express his sincerity through his acts.
We hope the Dalai will stop acting to separate the homeland, stop
orchestrating the inciting of violent acts and stop undermining the
Beijing Olympics," Hu added.

The Dalai Lama has denied such accusations, which China makes
repeatedly, saying he is seeking greater autonomy for Tibet, not
independence. He has also denied any involvement in March protests
against Chinese rule in the Tibet region that turned violent.

The comments by Hu, the first Chinese president to visit Japan in 10
years, matched renewed propaganda attacks on the Dalai Lama by
China's state-run media.

In an editorial titled "The Dalai's front for his splittist plot,"
the Communist Party's Tibet Daily newspaper accused him of conspiring
with China's enemies in a bid to break up the country and impede its
development.

"In seeking to internationalize the 'Tibet question,' the Dalai Lama
simply wishes to bring about his evil plot of splitting China,
sabotaging Tibet's stability and subverting socialist China," the paper said.

Representatives of the Tibetan exile government met with Chinese
officials earlier this month for the first time since 2006. The talks
were prompted by a resurgence of violence in Tibet, which China has
governed since the 1950s.

China says 22 people died in violence in Tibet's capital of Lhasa in
March, while overseas Tibet supporters say many times that number
were killed in the protests and a subsequent crackdown.

At a joint news conference with Hu after their meeting, the Japanese
prime minister praised Hu's decisiveness and willingness to talk with
the Dalai Lama's side.

But Fukuda, too, had a warning.

"The Olympics must succeed," he said. "The world is watching. We hope
the Chinese government and people realize this and that people will
be able to watch the games with pleasure."

Fukuda said Beijing's hosting of the Olympics is much like Tokyo's
hosting of the 1964 games, which marked Japan's emergence on the
world stage after its defeat in World War II. Fukuda, however, said
he had not decided whether to attend the opening ceremony.

The Chinese criticism of the Dalai Lama signaled no letup in
Beijing's relentless campaign to vilify Tibet's highest ranking
Buddhist leader.

The broadsides continued despite the relatively mild tenor of an
official statement issued after Sunday's meeting in southern China
between Chinese officials and a pair of envoys from the Dalai Lama's
India-based government-in-exile.

The attacks appear driven in part by the Communist Party's
realization that a half century of media demonization and ideological
indoctrination have failed to erode the top Buddhist cleric's
popularity among many Tibetans.

The propaganda also seeks to arouse hatred among ordinary Chinese by
associating the Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, with a
hazily defined array of "overseas anti-China forces" accused by the
party of seeking to restrain China's development.

At the same time, Beijing is under international pressure to take a
more conciliatory stance toward Tibet to avoid more negative
publicity ahead of the Olympics, which has roused considerable
national pride in China.

Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to
this report.
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