- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

CHENGDU, China (AP) — China accused the Dalai Lama yesterday of stoking Tibetan unrest to sabotage the Beijing Olympics and also berated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she is ignoring the truth about Tibet.

This month’s violence in Tibet and neighboring provinces has turned into a public relations disaster for China ahead of the August Olympics, which it had been hoping to use to bolster its international image.

The Chinese government said through official media that formerly restive areas were under control and accused the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, of trying to harm China’s image ahead of the summer games.

“The Dalai clique is scheming to take the Beijing Olympics hostage to force the Chinese government to make concessions to Tibet independence,” said the People’s Daily, the main mouthpiece of the Communist Party.

The Tibetan spiritual leader called the accusations against him “baseless,” asserting that he supported China’s hosting of the summer games.

“I always support [that] the Olympics should … take place in Beijing … so that more than 1 billion human beings, that means Chinese, they feel proud of it,” he said yesterday in New Delhi.

Mrs. Pelosi’s visit to the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, on Friday was the first by a major foreign official since the protests broke out.

The Democratic leader said if people don’t speak out against China’s oppression in Tibet, “we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world.”

China’s official Xinhua News Agency published commentary yesterday accusing Mrs. Pelosi of ignoring the violence caused by the Tibetan rioters.

“ ’Human rights police’ like Pelosi are habitually bad-tempered and ungenerous when it comes to China, refusing to check their facts and find out the truth of the case,” it said.

China’s reported death toll from the protests in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, earlier this month is 22. Tibet’s exiled government says 99 Tibetans have been killed.

Despite the media restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, some information was leaking out. An American backpacker who traveled to Chengdu, the capital of western Sichuan province, said he had seen soldiers or paramilitary troops in Deqen in northwest Yunnan province, which borders Tibet.

“What was an empty parking lot by the library was full of military trucks and people practicing with shields. I saw hundreds of soldiers,” said the backpacker, who would give only his first name, Ralpha.

The official lighting of the Olympic torch is set for today in Greece, and about 1,000 police will surround ancient Olympia to keep away pro-Tibetan protesters from the ceremony. The torch is scheduled to travel through 20 countries before the Beijing Olympics open Aug. 8.

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