Tibetan Deputies Slam Separatism

Senior lawmakers from the Tibet Autonomous Region Wednesday criticized the separation activities of the Dalai Lama clique, meanwhile commending the Qinghai-Tibet Railway project, which is expected to put Tibet on a faster development track.

Over the past four decades, the Dalai Lama has never abandoned his "Tibet independence" stance or given up political activities aimed at separating the motherland, Raidi, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), said Wednesday in Beijing.

Although the Dalai Lama can contact and talk with the Chinese government, he has exploited the issue to serve his own purposes, and has shown no sincerity, Raidi told a press conference on the sidelines of the Ninth NPC, whose fourth session ends Thursday.

When he believes the international situation is unfavourable to him, the Dalai Lama agrees to talks, but when he thinks the world situation is favourable, he refuses to come to the table, according to Raidi, also chairman of the Standing Committee of the Regional People's Congress of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama has become an obedient tool used by anti-China forces outside China, and he is to blame for the lack of progress on contact and talks, Raidi said.

The lawmaker urged the Dalai Lama to seize the moment and make a wise choice, instead of being swayed by activists who advocate "Tibetan independence."

Raidi also reiterated the consistent stance of the Chinese government that the Dalai Lama must give up his pro-independence position, stop his separatist activities and make a public announcement agreeing that Tibet is an inalienable part of China.

He should also announce Taiwan is part of China, and that the People's Republic of China is the country's sole legal government.

Commenting on the Dalai Lama's planned tour to Taiwan at the end of this month, Raidi said the Chinese government has never recognized the "exiled government" of Tibet, and resolutely opposes Tibetan independence groups colluding with elements preaching independence in Taiwan.

He said any attempt by anyone to separate the motherland will fail.

As to the question of India's decision to grant the 17th Karmapa Lama refugee status, Raidi said the Indian government said it will not allow the Karmapa to engage in any anti-Chinese activities, nor will it allow any foreign force to use him to engage in such activities.

"China and India as neighbours have both adhered to the policy of mutual respect and non-interference into each other's internal affairs," Raidi said. "We hope the Indian government will continue to uphold this principle and appropriately handle the issue."

The 17th Karmapa, one of the most senior spiritual leaders in Tibetan Buddhism and also the head of the Karma Kagyu -- one of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism -- arrived in Dharmasala in January 2000.

In answering a China Daily question regarding the Qinghai-Tibet Railway project to be launched this year, Raidi said the first railway linking the "roof of the world" with the country's inland areas has long been awaited by the Tibetan people.

The 1,100-km Qinghai-Tibet Railway, running from Golmud in Qinghai Province to Lhasa, could cost more than 20 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion). It is expected to be completed within the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05), Raidi said.

He said the project will enhance exchanges between Tibet and other parts of China, accelerate economic and social development and will consolidate national security.

With people now more concerned about environmental protection, Raidi said he believed the ecological system along the railway will be carefully safeguarded.

In fact, related departments and experts have made meticulous plans, including precautionary measures, to ensure the impact of the project on the environment will be reduced to a minimum, according to Raidi.

Legqog, another NPC deputy and chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, yesterday said the regional government has vowed to turn the area's abundant natural resources to its economic advantage during China's western development.

(China Daily 03/15/2001)