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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 denounces Dalai Lama as Tibet riot's anniversary looms

March 11, 2010

Agence France-Presse (AFP)
March 9, 2010

BEIJING (AFP) -- China on Tuesday accused the
Dalai Lama of trying to "create chaos" in Tibet,
on the eve of the sensitive anniversary of a
failed uprising against Chinese rule that drove the Buddhist monk into exile.

Two years ago, protests in the Tibetan capital
Lhasa to mark the anniversary of the March 10,
1959 uprising descended into deadly violence,
prompting a massive security clampdown in the Himalayan region that is ongoing.

"If there were no anti-China forces or no Dalai
to destroy and create chaos, Tibet would be
better off than it is today," the region's
Communist Party secretary Zhang Qingli said in an
interview posted on a government website.

"Although anti-China forces and the Dalai clique
are trying to... destroy our harmony and
stability, they can never shake our heartfelt
belief that China cannot live without Tibet and
Tibet cannot live without China," he said.

China would continue to pour investment into
Tibet in an effort to develop the economy of the
remote, impoverished region and raise the living
standards of its people, Zhang said.

Zhang's remarks came during the nation's ongoing
annual parliamentary session, at which top
leaders and lawmakers have heaped praise on
Beijing's efforts to develop Tibet -- and hit out at the Dalai Lama.

"Tibet has witnessed the fastest-ever development
in its history (under China's rule)," Qiangba
Puncog, head of Tibet's legislature, told journalists on Sunday.

Over the last eight years, Tibet has witnessed
over 12 percent economic growth annually as 180
billion yuan (26 billion dollars) was poured into
infrastructure in the region, mostly by the central government, he said.

Zhang said such investment would continue in the
coming years and would remain the bedrock of
Beijing's efforts to ensure "socialism with Chinese characteristics" in Tibet.

"Our main task is to improve the lives of the
people and give them a foot to stand on," Zhang said.

"Here the central government has given us a lot
of support. We will take this money and invest more of it on the basic level."

China routinely blames unrest in Tibet on the
Dalai Lama, viewed by Beijing as a separatist
bent on independence. The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize
winner has denied such accusations, saying he is
seeking "real autonomy" for the region.

Zhang further insisted that Tibetans enjoyed full
freedom of religion, but that police crackdowns
in the region were largely due to "anti-China and
separatist forces inciting monks into doing bad things."

Tourist officials and hotel operators said the
streets of Lhasa remained quiet ahead of the
anniversaries of the uprising and the violence,
but that foreign tourists still needed special permission to visit Tibet.

"The armed police are still patrolling the
streets, just like they have been doing since the
riots," an official at the China Youth Tourism
Service told AFP, asking not to be named.
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