China’s top official in charge of religious groups and ethnic minorities yesterday vowed to step up the fight against exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, as a rights group reported police shootings of monks marking his 78th birthday.
The comments by Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲), No. 4 in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) hierarchy, appear aimed at thwarting speculation that China’s new leadership could take a softer line on the Dalai Lama.
Visiting a heavily Tibetan area of Gansu Province, Yu told local officials and religious leaders that the Dalai Lama’s separatist activities ran counter to the country’s interests and to Buddhist tradition.
“For the sake of national unity and the development of stability in Tibetan regions, we must take a clear-cut stand and deepen the struggle against the Dalai clique,” Xinhua news agency cited Yu as saying.
Buddhist leaders must be guided to oppose separatism and any efforts to damage the CCP’s leadership, added Yu, who is head of a largely ceremonial advisory body to parliament which aims at coopting religious and minority groups.
Yu repeated that ties with the Dalai Lama could only improve if he openly recognized that Tibet has been a part of China since ancient times and abandoned his Tibetan independence activities, Xinhua reported.
Meanwhile, police in a Tibetan part of Sichuan Province opened fire on a group of monks and others who had gathered to mark the Dalai Lama’s birthday on Saturday, seriously injuring at least two, the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said.
It named the monks as Tashi Sonam and Ugyen Tashi, and said both were in hospital. At least 20 people were detained after the incident on Saturday, the ICT added.
Additional reporting by AFP