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India clarifies stand on Tibet as China rebukes Dalai
Raghavendra | March 23, 2008 21:03 IST
Irked by top US lawmakers hobnobbing with the Dalai Lama [Images] in its backyard, China on Sunday claimed that India's position on Tibet has not changed as the Red Army deployed in strength to crush the rebellion in the Himalayan region accused the spiritual leader of holding the Olympic games hostage.
India -- which maintains that Tibet is an internal issue of China -- has assured Beijing [Images] that its position on Tibet is 'clear and consistent' and it would not change in the future, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.
New Delhi also clarified that Vice President Hamid Ansari had no plans to meet the Dalai Lama, leader of the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamshala, following a 'rumour' about such a meeting, he said.
"The Indian side has clarified to China on relevant rumour, saying there's no such plan," Qin said.
China is fighting the most vicious protests in two decades in Tibet and nearby areas after riots erupted in Lhasa on March 10 coinciding with the anniversary of the 1959 failed uprising, jolting the Communist leadership.
Bejing claims 19 people have died in the violence but the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamshala claimed that the death toll had reached 100.
State-run Xinhua news agency said 94 people had been injured from March 14 to 19 in violent clashes in Gansu province, including 64 police officers, 27 paramilitary police, two government officials and a civilian. This brings to more than 700 the number of people injured in the recent unrest.
'It does not matter if the Dalai Lama and his followers disguise themselves under the pretence of 'peace' and 'non-violence' -- their splittist sabotage activities are doomed to fail,' it said.
Premier Wen Jiabao had earlier said that Beijing 'appreciates' the stand taken by the Indian government to handle the Tibet 'independence' activities.
Situation in Lhasa is returning to normal with shops reopened, classes resumed and power supplies restored, Xinhua claimed.
The 'social order' has returned to normal with no violence reported since March 20, officials said.
Half of the shops on main business streets opened on Saturday in Aba county in Sichuan province, where China had acknowledged for the first time last week that the police had opened fire at protesters and wounded four of them.
In a report from Gansu, Xinhua said police had found a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition in the hideout of a mobster who took part in the riot in the Gannan prefecture. It said 19 rioters have surrendered in Gannan by Sunday.
The western media came under attack from the Chinese state media for what it called 'distorting facts' in their coverage of the Lhasa riots, as it said 'tens of thousands' of netizens have responded to calls to condemn it.
Xinhua news agency carried the comments of internet users, who named western media organisations and accused them of 'intentionally' leaving out the cruelty of mobsters, revealing the 'hypocrisy' of fairness flaunted by them.
Pope Benedict XVI, meanwhile, again raised the Tibet issue and called for a solution that will 'safeguard peace and the common good' during his traditional Easter message.
'How can we fail to remember certain African regions, such as Darfur and Somalia, the tormented Middle East, especially the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon, and finally Tibet, all of whom I encourage to seek solutions that will safeguard peace and the common good!' the Pope said at St Peter's Square.