Dalai Lama warns of a more vigorous struggle, after his death, by the youth

China claims support of nearly 100 countries

Intensifies hunt for suspects in Lhasa riots

Beijing: China on Saturday vowed to “resolutely crush” the “Tibet independence forces” even as the Dalai Lama, Buddhist spiritual leader, warned that the younger generation may launch more vigorous and violent struggle against Beijing after his death.

Updating its earlier toll of 13 in the unrest in Lhasa, which started on March 10 coinciding with the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Communist rule in Tibet, Chinese authorities said the violence claimed the lives of 18 civilians and a police officer.

“[We must] resolutely crush the ‘Tibet independence’ forces’ conspiracy and sabotaging activities,” The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), said in a hard-hitting commentary on Saturday as Beijing poured in thousands of Chinese troops to assert control in the restive Tibetans-inhabited regions of the country.

China alleged that the violent incidents were “masterminded” by the Dalai Lama “clique” with the “vicious intention” of undermining the Olympics and splitting China. The Dalai Lama has denied the charge, and said he is ready for a dialogue with Beijing. The Tibetan leader, however, cautioned China that his death may result in a more vigorous struggle by Tibetans against Communist rule as the younger generation had a “stronger spirit” to fight injustice.

“Both inside and outside (Tibet), the older generation may go away, but the newer generations carry the same spirit. Sometimes it’s even stronger. So after my death a younger generation will come up,” the Dalai Lama told the Newsweek magazine.

He said he was worried about the possibility of greater violence after him as he was fully committed to amity between the Tibetans and the Chinese. Amid attempts by the U.S. and other Western powers to ratchet up pressure on Beijing to hold a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, China hit back, claiming that nearly 100 countries had demonstrated their support to its action to maintain its national sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability in Tibet.

“It is a clear proof that the international community is on the side of China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

Dismissing the Dalai Lama as a political refugee engaged in activities of splitting China, Mr. Qin said China opposed any “encouragement or support” for the secessionist attempts of the “Dalai clique” which violated the basic principles of international relations.

China’s tough response came a day after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi met the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India and demanded an “independent, outside” investigation into Beijing’s allegation of the monk being the instigator. She also asked all “freedom-loving” people to speak out against China’s “oppression” in Tibet.

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, now on a visit to Paris, also criticised China’s actions, saying the crackdown in Tibet “is not correct.”

“The people there are being subjected to mistreatment that is not acceptable with the conduct of a world power, which China is,” Mr. McCain told reporters.

European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said a boycott of the Beijing Olympics was “justified” if China shunned talks with the Dalai Lama.

China has insisted that the Dalai Lama must recognise Tibet and Taiwan as parts of China and undergo a “thorough review of himself” to create conditions for talks.

Authorities in Beijing said the charred bodies of five persons, including a married couple and an eight-month-old baby girl, were found in a motorcycle garage in Dagze county of Lhasa on Friday, taking the toll in the unrest to 19. Quoting the regional government, the official Xinhua news agency said 382 civilians were injured in the riots which also caused an economic loss of $ 34.59 million.

Beijing has also intensified its hunt for the “most wanted” suspects for the Lhasa riots, which had spread to Tibetan-inhabited areas in Sichuan and Gansu provinces.

Police said 183 “perpetrators” of the riots had surrendered to them so far ever since a deadline was issued to turn themselves in before Monday midnight. — PTI

More In: Today's Paper