Chinese anger and terror warnings cloud Olympics
BEIJING (Reuters) - China said it was outraged by a resolution by U.S. lawmakers urging an end to a crackdown in Tibet as a Beijing-run newspaper linked al Qaeda to claimed plots to attack the Beijing Olympics.
The condemnation came in response to a U.S. House of Representatives resolution urging China to open dialogue with the Dalai Lama, end a crackdown on nonviolent Tibetan protesters and halt repression in the region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said her government was "strongly indignant and resolutely opposed" to the resolution passed on Wednesday with the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Jiang said the U.S. lawmakers should instead direct their ire at what Beijing calls the Dalai Lama's clique, which China has blamed for deadly rioting in Tibet's regional capital, Lhasa, on March 14 and subsequent protests.
"It is confusing black with white and is vicious-minded of certain members of the U.S. House of Representatives to not only fail to condemn the attacks, smashing, looting and arson in Lhasa ... but rather to point the spear at the Chinese government and people," Jiang said.
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, has rejected claims that he orchestrated the violence, and Western governments have urged China to open up conciliatory contacts.
But China has underscored the gulf in perceptions over Tibet by saying that groups campaigning for independence there have joined militant Muslim Uighurs fighting for an independent "East Turkestan" in the northwest region of Xinjiang.
China said on Thursday it had foiled "terrorist" plots to kidnap foreigners and carry out suicide attacks around the Beijing Olympics in August.
The Wen Wei Po, a Hong Kong newspaper backed by the mainland, said Uighur extremists were colluding with the exiled Tibetan Youth Congress and even al Qaeda to target the games.
"Al Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and Tibetan Youth Congress are all planning to make the Beijing Olympic Games the target of terror attacks, and have strengthened collusion and collaboration," the paper said in a commentary.
"The Dalai clique is not only implicated with al Qaeda, it is colluding with the East Turkestan organization
Human rights groups have said Beijing is using the perceived terror threats, denied by exiled Uighur groups, to justify tough controls in Xinjiang.
Konchok Yangphel, a New Delhi-based spokesman for the Tibetan Youth Congress, said the Wen Wei Po report was ridiculous.
"We are trying to stick to nonviolence and demonstrations and have not engaged in violence," he said by telephone. But he said the group did not rule out the possibility of violence in Tibet "if people are forced by Chinese violence."
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge said he was happy with how preparations for securing the August 8-24 Games were proceeding.
"We discuss security each time we meet the Beijing organizing committee, we have received assurances from the authorities that there will be the necessary and appropriate level of security," he told a news conference in Beijing at the end of a two-day meeting of the IOC's executive board.
The Beijing Games torch relay, which has been dogged by protests by Tibet activists, resumed under heavy security in Buenos Aires on Friday after disruptions in London, Paris and San Francisco.
Buenos Aires deployed thousands of police and city officials to keep order, but the relay was not interrupted, with the greatest threat just a couple of tossed water-filled balloons.
Enthusiastic onlookers outnumbered activists protesting China's rule of Tibet. Police separated small groups of pro- and anti-China protesters who gathered in front of Argentina's pink presidential palace and at other points along the route.
Chief Beijing organizer Liu Qi earlier told the IOC his team was working to avoid more chaotic scenes in the remaining legs of the relay. The torch relay's San Francisco route was abruptly changed by city officials this week, and Indonesia has said it would significantly shorten its leg on April 22.
Jin Jing, 27, a wheelchair-bound Chinese torch bearer, gained national fame after fending off protesters in Paris.
"I still feel very angry now, and I think the man was very irrational," the Paralympic fencer told Reuters. "Hosting the Olympics is such a good thing for our country, so why do they want to ruin it?"
Zhan Yongxin of Chinese Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong said the attack showed "some people are physically able, but spiritually disabled, while others have disabled bodies but their spirit is sound."
Kenyan Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai pulled out of Sunday's Tanzanian relay leg to highlight her concerns about Tibet.
(Take a look at the Countdown to Beijing blog at http:blogs.reuters.com/china)