China: will ‘crush Dalai Lama clique'

Top Chinese officials have said they would put in place measures to “resolutely crush” any activities that destabilise Tibetan areas in western China, even as they blamed exiled religious leader the Dalai Lama for fanning unrest ahead of a crucial Parliament meet.

“Currently, the clique of the Dalai Lama are trying in vain to continuously create incidents in Tibet and the Tibetan-inhabited areas in the four provinces [Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan and Gansu],” said Jia Qinglin, the Communist Party's highest official in charge of ethnic affairs and the fourth highest-ranked member of the Politburo Standing Committee.

Authorities needed to “implement prescribed measures well to resolutely crush the Dalai Lama clique's conspiracy of making Tibetan-inhabited areas unstable”, said Mr. Jia, who also heads the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a top political advisory that advises the government on ethnic affairs.

The CPPCC and the National People's Congress, the top legislative body, will begin its annual sessions on Saturday in a crucial week-long sitting that will set policies ahead of a once-in-decade leadership transition.

Chinese authorities have stepped up security across the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and in Tibetan areas in Sichuan and Qinghai, which have seen recent protests and at least 25 reported self-immolations by monks and nuns against what is described as restrictive religious policies. In TAR and Sichuan, informed sources said, communications had been restricted — text-messaging has been banned and Internet access disrupted — and additional patrols have been deployed.

Ahead of the sessions, officials have expressed concern about instability in Tibet and far-western Xinjiang, where violence claimed at least 20 lives near Kashgar earlier this week. At a press briefing on Friday ahead of the start of the CPPCC's session, spokesperson Zhao Qizheng blamed the Dalai Lama for the recent Tibetan unrest, suggesting the self-immolations had been organised with a political motive.

“According to what I have heard, [the Dalai Lama] publicly applauded the courage of people who set themselves on fire,” said Mr. Zhao, when asked about the Dalai Lama earlier explicitly stating that he did not encourage such acts though he expressed sympathy with the monks.

“If he said both things, then he is not an honest man.”

Mr. Zhao said “an eminent monk” told him that Buddhism prohibited killing and “held life as precious”. “Suicide”, he added, “is almost a sin as taking another person's life… and is not a compassionate thing to do.”

Tibetans from Sichuan and other areas have, however, blamed a government security clampdown for recent unrest. Measures particularly unpopular with monks include banning the worship of the Dalai Lama and moves to put in place Communist Party officials and “patriotic education” within monasteries.

One journalist asked Mr. Zhao about reported moves to install portraits of Mao Zedong, former leader Deng Xiaoping and President Hu Jintao in monasteries, where the Dalai Lama's image cannot be displayed. He said the pictures were likely photographs marking “the sixtieth anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet”, and said it was right to display them.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 1:20:42 PM |

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