Give up pursuit of 'Tibet independence'

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-09 07:23

Chances for Dalai Lama's return to Tibet Autonomous Region are slim unless he totally abandons his secessionist activities of "Tibet independence", a senior Tibetan official said yesterday.

Qiangba Puncog, government chairman of Tibet, denounced Dalai Lama's staunch "pro-independence" stance, at a news conference on the sidelines of annual NPC session yesterday.

"Unless Dalai Lama completely gives up the pursuit of 'Tibet independence' both in idea and deed, the chance for him to return is slim," he said.

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He said the central government had never shut the door to talks with Dalai Lama through his personal representatives.

"But we will never recognize his so-called government-in-exile," he said.

"The attitude of the central government is clear-cut. He must completely give up his pursuit of 'Tibet independence'; he must recognize that Tibet is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory since the ancient times, and he must also recognize that Taiwan is a part of China."

Dalai Lama fled to India after a failed rebellion in 1959. Tibet was peacefully liberated in 1951. "It's already been 48 years since he fled the country, and in the last 48 years he has never done anything beneficial for the Tibetan people nor the motherland," Qiangba said.

Qiangba Puncog also slammed Dalai Lama's recent proclamation that he would give up the pursuit of "Tibet independence" in exchange for a "high-degree autonomy" to form a so-called "greater Tibet".

The "greater Tibet" in nature is independence and Dalai Lama made the remark to seek sympathy from people who know little about Chinese history and to internationalize the Tibetan issue, he said.

Tibet has witnessed huge economic growth over many years since it established autonomous government in 1965, Qiangba said.

"Practice proves that the ethnic autonomous government system is very wise," he said.

In another development, he said that the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which began operation last July, has not caused environmental damage to the plateau.

"The railway did not damage the frozen earth layer, the lakes or the grassland," he said.

The reliability rate of the train is more than 90 percent, which proves its sound operation and high quality, he added.

Construction of an extension line of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway linking Lhasa to Xigaze has been approved and will start this year. The 254-kilometer line is expected to be completed in 2010.

And Zhang Qingli, Party secretary of Tibet brushed aside the concern that the 2008 Beijing Olympic torch relay to the plateau would harm its environment.

"How can the torch relay damage the environment? It is a great opportunity for Tibet," he said.

Beijing Olympic officials have expressed hope that the torch would arrive at the top of Mount Qomolangma, the world's highest mountain.

The final schedule of the torch relay, which needs to be approved by the International Olympic Committee, will be announced the next month.

(China Daily 03/09/2007 page5)

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