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Talks with Dalai Lama to continue
By Hu Yinan and Zhang Haizhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-03-14 08:52

The central government's talks with the Dalai Lama may continue if the political exile gives up his separatist attempts, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Friday.

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That stance toward Tibet is "consistent and clear cut", Wen told a press conference in Beijing after the conclusion of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

The stability and development of the autonomous region proves that the central government has carried out the right policies in Tibet, he noted.

"The situation in Tibet on the whole is stable. The Tibetan people hope to live and work in peace and stability," he added.

"Both China's Constitution and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy safeguard the freedom and rights of people in Tibet, particularly over religious belief."

Wen also urged France to "show its clear-cut attitude" toward Tibet to help repair Sino-French relations, which were severely harmed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama last year.

He said issues related to Tibet are "China's internal affairs which should not be interfered in by other countries", as the region is an "inalienable part of China".

"The problems that have arisen between China and France arose mainly because the French leader met the Dalai Lama in a prominent way," Wen said.

Beijing had previously objected to the fact the two met by calling off a summit with EU leaders scheduled for last December.

"China hopes the French side will show its clear-cut attitude toward Tibet-related issues to help repair relations between China and France as quickly as possible," he added, noting this year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Wen did not mention whether President Hu Jintao would meet Sarkozy bilaterally during the upcoming G20 Summit in London.

Tibet, only 50 years since the abolition of slavery after a failed uprising by its feudalistic upper class, witnessed a shocking riot in its capital Lhasa last March by followers of the Dalai Lama, which led to the deaths of 18 civilians and huge financial losses.

On Tuesday, half a century after the "uprising" that drove him to a "government-in-exile" in Dharamshala, India, the Dalai Lama accused China of having brought "hell on earth" to Tibet.

Tibet's top officials refuted the accusation, saying the metaphor was accurate only to describe the old Tibet - the one under the theocratic rule of the Dalai Lama before 1959.

"The Dalai Lama is trying to turn black into white in an attempt to mislead the public," Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the government of the Tibet autonomous region, earlier told Xinhua.

Legqog, Tibet's top legislator and a former serf, said the autonomous region would continue to strengthen legislation and law enforcement to fight separatism and ensure national security and regional stability.

The autonomous region is "on the front line of the fight against separatism. Development and stability have always been top priorities for the region", said Legqog, chairman of the standing committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Regional People's Congress.

Meanwhile, the NPC on Friday expressed strong indignation and opposition to a European Parliament resolution on Tibet.

"We are strongly indignant over and opposed to the act that intervenes in China's internal affairs, damages China-Europe relations and hurts the Chinese people's feelings," the NPC foreign affairs committee said in a statement.

"Regardless of China's repeated stern representation, the European Parliament, stirred up by a few of its members, insisted on approving a resolution on Tibet that distorts the facts and again encourages the Dalai Lama's separatist practice, in an attempt to internationalize the Tibet-related issues," said the statement.

Over the past few years, the Chinese government has held a number of patient and sincere dialogues with the Dalai Lama's representatives.

However, as the Dalai Lama has not stopped his separatist activities, no substantial progress was made, the statement said.

From 2006 to 2010, the central government planned 180 key projects valued at nearly 80 billion yuan ($11.7 billion) to develop Tibet's infrastructure.

These projects included the Qinghai-Tibet Railway line extension and the airport in Ngari.

Xinhua contributed to the story