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China Lashes Out at Dalai Lama, Other Olympic Critics

Associated Press
Beijing – In a blast of harsh rhetoric, China lashed out Thursday at the Dalai Lama and critics of Beijing’s support for Sudan, saying attempts to link political issues to the Beijing Summer Olympics betrayed the spirit of the games.
“We can definitely not accept them,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in reference to rights groups which say China’s support for Sudan’s government is prolonging the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region.
“To link the Darfur issue to the Olympics is a move to politicize the Olympics and this is inconsistent with the Olympics spirit and will bear no fruit,” Jiang told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.
Jiang also attacked the Dalai Lama as a religious phony seeking to split China, a response to the exiled Tibetan leader’s reported support for peaceful protests during the Olympics.
Beijing’s tough approach illustrates its extreme sensitivity toward anything that might tarnish its staging of the Aug. 8-24 Olympic Games. Beijing has invested billions of dollars (euros) and massive national prestige in what it hopes will be a glorious showcase of China’s rapid development from impoverished agrarian nation to rising industrial power.
A rising tide of criticism from rights groups, celebrities and international media threatens to dampen the mood surrounding the games.
On Sunday, American actress Mia Farrow received widespread publicity with an attempt to stage a protest at a former Khmer Rouge prison in Cambodia over Chinese support for Sudan. Farrow has been working with the U.S.-based advocacy group Dream for Darfur, which has been staging mock Olympic-style torch-lighting ceremonies in places around the globe that have suffered mass killings to call attention to the Darfur violence.
China has sold weapons to the Sudanese government and defended Khartoum in the U.N. Security Council. Resource-hungry China buys two-thirds of Sudan’s oil exports and observers say Sudan’s military receives up to 70 percent of oil royalties.
China counters the accusations by saying it plays a constructive role in seeking to resolve the Darfur conflict, where more than 200,000 people have died since a government-backed militia stepped up attacks in 2003.
China last year began deploying 315 non-combat troops to Darfur to prepare for the arrival of a proposed 26,000-strong hybrid African Union-U.N. peacekeeping force that has been delayed in part by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s refusal to allow non-Africans to participate.
“The international community knows very well that the Chinese government has played a positive and constructive role,” Jiang said. “Some organizations are trying to make some sensations. This is to undermine the preparation work of the Olympics and we are firmly against that.”
While China routinely vilifies the Dalai Lama, a recent interview with British broadcaster ITV News in which he reportedly gave his blessing for protests at the Olympics put him in the focus again.
According to a transcript circulated by pro-Tibetan groups, the 72-year-old winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize said protests could remind the Chinese public of government policies he says are eroding the region’s traditional Buddhist culture.
The Dalai Lama said Chinese repression in Tibet had gotten “certainly worse” since China was awarded the Olympics in 2001.
“The goal of all of his schemes is to split the motherland, sabotage ethnic unity, sabotage China’s relations with other nations and interfere with the Olympic Games,” Jiang said.
“So he is in no way a religious or spiritual leader. He is purely a general leader bent on pursuing separatism and sabotaging national unity,” she said.
China has also been angered by a series of overseas visits by the Dalai Lama, who leads an India-based exile government. Beijing’s relations with Germany were strained for months after Chancellor Angela Merkel received the Dalai Lama in September.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Joey

    “Beijing has invested billions of dollars (euros) and massive national prestige in what it hopes will be a glorious showcase of China’s rapid development from impoverished agrarian nation to rising industrial power.”
    I wonder if they realize how much it would improve their image to actually DO THESE THINGS THAT PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD WANT THEM TO DO?
    …Just sayin’. :-)
    God bless.

  • Henrietta22

    Whatever the problems with China and the Dalai Lama are, other people included, they should be set aside during the Beijing Summer Olympics. These games are for the sports of the whole world, and shouldn’t be put in the middle of political protesting that could harm the contenders and other people.

  • pagansister

    Unfortunately the Chinese aren’t going to change even with all the pleading from the world community. They are looking out for #1, themselves. The only thing that would get them to do at least a partial about face, would be to somehow change the Olympics to another country…and that’s not going to happen, as it is too late for a major country change.
    And they are addicted to harrassing the Dali Lama…so that won’t change either.

  • nnmns

    They give cover for the Sudanese government, which is somewhat thuggish. I’ve urged us to take effective action for Darfur so I think there’s a good reason to get behind this protest. I understand China’s need for resources, we all have that, but it seems like they, a budding superpower, should be able to put the arm on Sudan to do the right thing.
    Olympics have been politicized before and no doubt they will be again. It’s a shame for the athletes who’ve practiced for so long, but the Darfurians’ suffering is orders of magnitude more serious a problem.

  • Henrietta22

    There is reason to protest about Darfur, but not at the summer olympics. I thought Hindus say do no harm? Someone competing or their relatives may be injured or killed because of out of control protesting. My point.

  • aerocash

    Actually, the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist. Tibetan Buddhist to be specific, not a Hindu. Also, it is a Buddhist practice to do no harm and there will be no real harm done in protesting the Chinese Olympics. Notice that the article mentioned “peaceful protest” not violent riots or anything of the sort. The protests help to show the world that just as China is trying to be a super power, it needs to conduct itself in a more just and humanitarian way. Unfortunately, I think pagansister is right, China is still going to be looking out for Number 1.
    As nnmns said, the Olympics have been politicized before and they will again. It is unfortunate for the athletes who have worked so hard to make it but the world needs to see China for what it is.

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