BEIJING - A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday slammed a statement issued by a U.S. official on the situation in Tibet, urging the United States to stop interfering in China's internal management.
"Tibetan affairs are China's domestic affairs," said Hong Lei. "Issues related to Tibet are major issues of principle concerning China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, rather than issues of ethnic minority, religion or human rights."
Hong made the remarks at a daily press briefing in response to a statement issued on Wednesday by Maria Otero, under secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights, who accused China's policy on Tibet of causing tensions in Tibetan areas.
"China firmly opposes any country or anyone using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China's internal affairs," said Hong.
He said that, since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, especially since the beginning of the reform and opening-up policy more than three decades ago, Tibet has made historic progress in its social and economic development, with great improvement in its human rights situation.
The Tibetan people's rights of participating in the deliberation and administration of state affairs, using the Tibetan language, maintaining traditional culture and freedom of religious beliefs are all safeguarded in accordance with laws, according to Hong.
The spokesman added that, like people of other ethnic groups, Tibetans enjoy freedom of speech, rights of assembly and association as enshrined in the Constitution.
Practices have proven that the Chinese government's policy on ethnic affairs accords with the national conditions of China and the actual situation of the Tibetan area and is supported by people of all ethnic groups including the Tibetan people, he insisted.
"Inciting self-immolations is the means used by the Dalai Lama's group to realize its political goal of splitting China, and is the most brutal and inhumane delinquent behavior," Hong said.
The Chinese government cherishes the life of each and every citizen and has made utmost efforts to prevent self-immolations, he continued, but the Dalai Lama's group has tried to blame the incidents on the Chinese government, and attacked China's policy on ethnic affairs.
"Such conduct of sacrificing others' lives to realize their own political goals violates the common conscience and human morality, and should be severely criticized," said Hong.
Instead of condemning the Dalai Lama clique and the anti-China separatist activities of "Tibet-independence" forces, Otero's statement made accusations against Chinese government policies, "distorted facts, and confused right and wrong," Hong said.
The statement, malign in nature, sent a wrong signal to "Tibet-independence" separatist forces and had a "very negative" influence, according to the spokesman.
"China is firmly opposed to it with strong dissatisfaction, and has lodged solemn representation to the U.S. side," Hong said, adding that Tibet-related issues concern China's core interests and Chinese people's feelings.
China demands the U.S. side keep its commitment of recognizing that Tibet is an internal part of China, not backing "Tibet-independence," and respecting China's sovereign and territorial integrity, he said.
He also stressed that China asks the United States to stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere with China's internal affairs and to refrain from undermining Sino-U.S. mutual trust and cooperation by ignoring facts.