Those who criticize China over human rights in Tibet have been “bewitched” by the Dalai Lama, a senior Chinese official said yesterday, days before the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s flight into exile in India.
China says it “peacefully liberated” Tibet in 1950 and has since exerted enormous effort to bring the remote region into the modern era, abolishing feudal practices while protecting its Buddhist people’s right to freely practice their religion and maintain their culture.
Critics, including the US, say that China rules Tibet with an iron fist and has overseen widespread rights abuses.
Tibetan society was “very dark and very cruel” before Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule, Tibet Deputy Governor Norbu Dondrup said.
He was speaking in Beijing on the release of a policy paper marking six decades since China began what it calls “democratic reforms” in Tibet.
Ordinary people, or “serfs,” could be bought and sold, thrown in jail or even killed when the Dalai Lama was in charge in Tibet, he added.
“The Dalai Lama attacking our human rights totally has ulterior motives. He tramples on human rights, and has no right, no qualifications and is unworthy of talking about human rights,” Norbu Dondrup said.
“As for countries slamming our human rights, they either don’t understand or don’t believe the Dalai clique’s rumors and bewitchments,” he said.
The human rights situation in Tibet is extremely good, he said, citing free medical care and an abundance of food.
Asked whether China would ever allow an independence referendum in Tibet, as has happened in Scotland and Quebec, Norbu Dondrup said that Tibet has been an inseparable part of China since ancient times.
“We have never recognized Tibet independence, and neither has any other country,” he said. “Moreover, the peoples of Tibet in the extended family of the peoples of the motherland now have very happy lives.”
China reviles the Dalai Lama, who crossed the border into exile in India on March 31, 1959, after a failed uprising against China.
Seen by Beijing as a dangerous separatist, he says that he merely seeks genuine autonomy for his mountainous homeland and denies espousing violence.
The Tibet issue has also become another irritant in China-US ties after US President Donald Trump signed into law a Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act in December last year.
The act seeks to pressure China to open the region by denying US entry to officials deemed responsible for restricting access to Tibet. China has denounced the law.
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