China Vows To Continue Crackdown On Tibetan Unrest

Published February 7, 2012 10:36AM (EST)

BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday vowed to crack down on unrest in Tibetan areas and accused overseas activist groups and the Dalai Lama of fomenting the recent violence.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said clashes last month between Tibetans and security forces in Sichuan province were the work of criminals and were instigated by overseas groups advocating for Tibetan independence.

"We believe that this is a case of a handful of criminals illegally gathering and smashing and looting," Liu said in a routine briefing.

He added that the "surprising" promptness with which overseas Tibetan activist groups reported the unrest "showed that they have colluded and premeditated the incidents." Liu also accused the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' spiritual leader, of preaching that actions were more powerful than prayer.

"The Chinese government will resolutely crack down on any attempt to incite violence or to disrupt national unity and integrity," Liu said.

His remarks came a day before vigils called for by the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharmsala, India, are to take place.

More than a dozen monks and nuns have set themselves on fire in ethnic Tibetan areas of Sichuan over the last year. Most have chanted for Tibetan freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of encouraging the immolations.

This has been the region's most violent period since 2008, when deadly rioting in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, spread to Tibetan areas in adjoining provinces. China responded by flooding the area with troops and closing Tibetan regions entirely to foreigners for about a year.

Western reporters trying to visit that part of Sichuan in the last several weeks have been turned away by security forces.

By Salon Staff

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