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Dalai Lama Says China "Acting Like a Child" On Rights

April 24, 2009

AFP
April 22, 2009

TOKYO -- The Dalai Lama on Wednesday accused
China of "acting like a child" in cracking down
on Tibetans and other minorities, saying it
lacked the moral authority of a genuine superpower.

The Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters in
Japan that while China could boast military,
economic and population muscle, it feared even small signs of dissent.

Addressing a Tokyo news conference on a stopover
before a speaking tour of Europe and the United
States, he said he saw China, "such a big nation, acting like a child."

He said the government routinely arrested
individuals with different views, but stressed
that "such a big nation of over one billion
people (should have) no need for such sort of fear."

"One or two persons have different views, and
immediately they are in trouble with the
government. No. You're a big nation. You should have more self-confidence."

He said he believed that while Tibetans are poor
but have openness on their side, "one weakness of
the Chinese government is that it is not
transparent, always telling distorted information."

The Tibetan leader said China was on the path to
becoming a superpower and already had the "power
of population, power of military and power of economy."

"Now the fourth condition to becoming a
superpower is moral authority," he said. "That is
lacking. Moral authority is very, very essential.
Trust is key. State secrets destroy trust. That
is the greatest obstacle to authority."

The Dalai Lama was speaking 50 years after
arriving in Indian exile after fleeing China's
crackdown against a 1959 uprising in the
Himalayan territory, and more than a year since
forces again cracked down on protesters.

Fierce anti-China riots broke out in Lhasa in
March last year and spread across Tibet and
adjacent areas with Tibetan populations, deeply
embarrassing the Chinese government as it
prepared to host the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Tibetan activist groups say thousands of people
may have been arrested in the crackdown, and the
exiled Tibetan government has said more than 200 were killed.

Beijing says "rioters" were responsible for 21
deaths and that its security forces killed only one "insurgent."

Asked about sentences handed down to Tibetans for
arson during the riots, including the death
penalty, the Dalai Lama said that, while
criminals should be punished, he did not trust China's courts.

"All these sentences are politically motivated,"
he said, "so we have great reservations.

"The PRC (People's Republic of China) as a whole
is without rule of law, no independent judiciary.
Everything is controlled by the party."

China has blamed the Dalai Lama for inciting the
unrest, responding with a massive security crackdown on the region.

While the Dalai Lama says he is seeking only
greater autonomy for Tibetans under Chinese rule,
Beijing calls him a separatist and pressures
world leaders not to meet with the Nobel Peace laureate.

He retorted Wednesday that China's rulers "are
very much short-sighted" and - employing a term
commonly used against him - said their actions
themselves were being "splittist."

"We have sincerely committed to remain part of
the PRC for our own interest, for our economic
development, provided (we have) minimal autonomy
to safeguard our culture, our spirituality and the environment."

Ending his news conference, he chuckled that he
expected "a scolding" from China's state-run news
agency Xinhua for his comments.

The Dalai Lama was due to fly Wednesday to
engagements in the United States and Europe,
including Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands.
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