Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Tibet prospers under China: Wen

AFP , BEIJING

Tibet is stable and prospering under Chinese rule, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) said yesterday in comments indicating China would maintain its tough stance toward Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama over the region’s future.

Wen told a press conference the key to future talks rested with the Dalai Lama abandoning “separatist activities,” a charge the he has long denied.

“The situation in Tibet is on the whole peaceful and stable,” Wen told reporters in Beijing at the end of China’s annual parliamentary session.

As the sensitive 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against China passed in the Himalayan region under tight security, Wen defended China’s policies in Tibet, saying they had kept stability and improved the lives of its people.

“Over the past few years, the government has increased its fiscal input in Tibet to accelerate the pace of economic development and worked to improve the living standards of the Tibetan farmers and herdsmen,” he said.

“It is a fact that Tibet’s peace and stability and continued progress have proven that the policies we have adopted are correct.”

Armed Chinese security forces have sealed off Tibet and neighboring areas with Tibetan populations to prevent unrest during the anniversary of the 1959 uprising, which forced the Dalai Lama into exile and cemented Chinese control.

The crackdown has drawn condemnation from rights and pressure groups as well as foreign governments such as the US, which called this week for China to reassess its “harmful” policies there and open talks with the Dalai Lama.

However, Wen went on the attack, accusing the Dalai Lama of lying and trying to deceive foreign leaders in a bid for international support.

He repeated China’s position that it will resume contacts with the Dalai Lama’s government in exile if he abandons separatist activities.

“As long as he abandons separatist activities, we are willing to carry out consultations with his representatives. This door is always open,” Wen said.

China has long accused the Dalai Lama of scheming to subvert Chinese control in a bid for Tibet independence but has offered no credible evidence.

The Dalai Lama has repeatedly denied the separatism charge, saying he only seeks more autonomy for Tibet’s people through negotiations, plus an end to Chinese repression.

In a speech from his exiled base in Dharamshala, India, on Tuesday to coincide with the uprising’s anniversary, the Dalai Lama said Chinese rule had made his homeland “hell on earth.”

However, Wen countered that China would push ahead with its controversial plan of pouring billions of dollars into the region to develop it.

“Tibet will remain committed firmly to the policy of opening up because this meets the needs of Tibet’s own development,” he said.

The Dalai Lama and other critics of China’s rule in Tibet say so-called development has brought in a massive influx of Han Chinese people, eroded Tibetan culture and damaged the region’s environment.

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