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China says Dalai Lama wants a 'Greater Tibet'

March 10, 2009

Dan Martin
March 7, 2008

Beijing has made similar accusations before, but Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi's comments come amid a lockdown of Tibetan regions for Tuesday's 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule that sent the Dalai Lama into exile.

"The Dalai side still insist on establishing a so-called Greater Tibet on a quarter of China's territory," Yang told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session in Beijing.

"They want to drive away the Chinese armed forces on Chinese territory and ask all non-Tibetans to relocate themselves, people who have long spent their lives in that part of Chinese territory," he said.

"You call this person a religious figure?"

The Dalai Lama, 74, who accuses China of cultural repression in Tibet, has repeatedly denied Beijing's accusations. He says he seeks only meaningful autonomy for the region.

In another sign of growing vigilance ahead of next week's anniversary, the Tibet Daily on Saturday carried a front-page article showing the region's Communist chief, Zhang Qingli, visiting riot police.

"We must keep a watchful eye, and with clenched fists, constantly be on the alert," Zhang was quoted as telling the officers, dressed in full protective gear.

"We must resolutely and directly strike at criminal elements who dare to stir up incidents. We must foil the separatist schemes of the Dalai clique," Zhang said in Friday's meeting.

China meanwhile detained two Tibetan women on Thursday for protesting in a Tibetan part of Sichuan province in the southwest, the International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement.

"The two women, a nun and layperson, staged separate protests in Kardze town, handing out leaflets and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet," said the statement, issued Saturday.

Following a bitter spat with Europe over a December meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama, Yang warned other countries that friendly relations with China hinged on rejecting the exiled monk.

"In developing relations with China, other countries should not allow the Dalai Lama to visit their countries or allow their territories to be used by the Dalai Lama to engage in separatist activities," he said.

"This is an integral part of the norms governing international relations."

Unrest has simmered in Tibet since violent anti-Chinese riots erupted a year ago on the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising.

Activist groups said China had hugely increased security across the region although several protests have already taken place in recent weeks.
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