China calls US Tibet remarks ‘disgusting’

Reuters in Beijing: China’s foreign ministry has lambasted the US in exceptionally harsh terms for its comments on the human rights situation in Tibet, saying it had filed a formal diplomatic complaint.

Maria Otero, the US special co-ordinator for Tibetan issues, said in a statement on Wednesday that tensions in Tibetan areas, including self-immolations, had been exacerbated by tough Chinese policies and controls.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Tibet issue had nothing to do with human rights, ethnicity or religion. “It is an important issue of principle which relates to China’s unity and territorial integrity. China resolutely opposes any country or person using any means to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” he told a daily news briefing.

Ninety-two Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest against Chinese rule since 2009, with at least 75 dying from their injuries. The number of self-immolation cases has increased this year, with 28 in November.

Hong repeated the official stance that Tibetans had enjoyed unprecedented advances and rights under Communist rule, blaming the Dalai Lama for inciting the self-immolations.

“The relevant US official issued a so-called statement and did not condemn the anti-Chinese splittist conduct of the Dalai Lama clique and Tibetan independence forces and actually attacked and rebuked China’s important ethnic policies; it is totally confusing black with white and right with wrong,” he said.

“It is sending a serious wrong message to Tibetan splittist forces and is utterly disgusting. China is extremely dissatisfied with this and resolutely opposes it. We have already made solemn representations with the US side,” Hong added.

“China demands the United States abide by its promises to recognise that Tibet is part of China, not to support Tibetan independence and respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and stop using the Tibet issue to interfere in China’s internal relations.”

China has defended its iron-fisted rule in Tibet, saying the remote region suffered from dire poverty, brutal exploitation of serfs and economic stagnation until 1950 when Communist troops “peacefully liberated” it.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

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