BEIJING (AP) — China accused the Dalai Lama on Tuesday of wanting to restore feudalism to his exiled homeland of Tibet and dismissed a report by the spiritual leader’s government accusing Beijing of sidelining Tibetans and endangering the remote region’s environment.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular briefing that “Tibet has achieved prosperous social, cultural and economic development. People are leading a happy life.”
Qin said Tibet’s “cruel and dark feudal system, which the Dalai Lama clique dreams of restoring” was the “one thing that has been destroyed and will never be restored.”
He would not respond directly to a report published Monday by the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile that said Beijing should stop dictating and give Tibetans a say in how the high plateau region is developed.
“I don’t want to comment on the report because they have distorted the facts and told so many lies,” Qin said. “The basic goal of the Tibetan government-in-exile, no matter what they say, is to not recognize that Tibet is part of China. Their goal is to split Tibet from China.”
The report suggested China was to blame for Tibet’s low literacy rate and the erosion of Tibetan culture, partly because of a new railroad linking Beijing to the capital, Lhasa, which has brought an influx of the Chinese Han majority and huge numbers of tourists.
The railway is also making it easier for Beijing to mine Tibet, which is rich in iron, copper, zinc and other minerals, and speed construction of numerous dams that will provide hydroelectric power needed to fuel China’s growing economy.
Tibet, the world’s highest plateau, is the source of rivers that feed hundreds of millions of people, and such projects could “seriously decrease the water supplies” across South and Southeast Asia, the report said.
Chinese Communist troops occupied Tibet in 1951 and Beijing continues to rule the region with a heavy hand. Beijing enforces strict controls on religious institutions and routinely vilifies the 71-year-old Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 amid an aborted uprising against Chinese rule.
China says it has ruled Tibet for centuries, although many Tibetans say their homeland was essentially an independent state for most of that time.
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