BEIJING (Reuters) - The people of Tibet should not be taken in by the Dalai Lama’s lies and clearly understand the importance of Communist Party rule in the region, the Chinese government said ahead of March’s sensitive 60th anniversary of him fleeing into exile.
Beijing sent troops into Tibet in 1950 in what it officially terms a peaceful liberation and has ruled there with an iron fist ever since.
The Dalai Lama, the highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, fled into exile to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
China routinely denounces him as a dangerous separatist, although the Dalai Lama says he merely wants genuine autonomy for his remote and mountainous homeland.
The official Tibet Daily said in a lengthy commentary released online late on Thursday the 83-year-old Dalai Lama had never given up promoting Tibetan independence, dismissing his intentions to seek a “middle way” of genuine autonomy.
“Whether it’s the ‘middle way’ or a ‘high degree of autonomy’, the aim is to try and negate the leadership of the party, negate the socialist system, and negate the ethnic autonomous region system,” the paper wrote.
It said the Dalai Lama has tried to use hostile forces in the Western media to spread his “rumors and slander” against China to promote Tibetan independence, ignoring the freedoms and respect accorded to the people of Tibet.
“In the face of the lies of the 14th Dalai Lama, the various peoples of Tibet should be even more aware that socialist new Tibet replacing the theistic and feudal system of old Tibet was a historical necessity, and a victory for the truth and the people,” the paper wrote.
The head of the Tibetan-government-in-exile based in northern India denounced the criticism of the Dalai Lama and said he was the solution to the Tibetan problem because the vast majority of Tibetans accept him as their leader.
“Intimidation and fear are not the ways to govern Tibetans. Even after 60 years of occupation the Chinese government is using these techniques,” Lobsang Sangay told Reuters in the hill station of Dharamsala.
The Dalai Lama on Friday gave a lecture in Mumbai on ancient Indian knowledge, but did not directly mention current relations with China.
“Violence always brings suffering,” he said, in comments streamed live on his Facebook page. “Basic human nature is more compassionate.”
Sangay said the Dalai Lama’s middle way was a win-win situation seeking autonomy for the Tibetans within the framework of the Chinese constitution and called for talks between his envoys and the representatives of the Chinese government to address the 60-year-old issue.
Rights groups say the situation for ethnic Tibetans inside what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region remains extremely difficult.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in June conditions were “fast deteriorating” in Tibet.
This week, the U.S. Senate passed the Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act, which now goes to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign into law.
That act seeks to promote access to Tibet for U.S. diplomats and other officials, journalists, and other citizens by denying entry into the United States for Chinese officials deemed responsible for restricting access to Tibet.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the bill was an interference in China’s domestic affairs and they had already made “stern representations” to the United States about it.
Many foreigners visit Tibet every year, with almost 40,000 trips by Americans there since 2015, including by senior U.S. politicians, showing there was no reason for this bill, he told a daily news briefing.
China urges the United States to prevent the bill becoming law to avoid harming bilateral relations, Lu added.
All foreigners need special permission to enter Tibet, which is generally granted for tourists but very infrequently for foreign diplomats and journalists.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Christian Shepherd, and Abhishek Madhukar in DHARAMSALA, India; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani