Beijing blasts Europe for flak on Tibet policy

The Straits Times, 16 July 2000

Smarting from the collapse of a loan to resettle 60,000 Chinese in areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans, China warns of threat to Sino-European ties

BEIJING—Angered by a European resolution critical of China's policies in Tibet, Chinese officials have accused the European Parliament of conspiring with the Dalai Lama to gain Tibetan independence.

In a strongly-worded statement published in state newspapers yesterday, members of the National People's Congress also said the European parliamentary resolution constituted slander and brutal interference in Chinese affairs.

It was not immediately clear what resolution the officials were referring to, but it apparently condemned a controversial resettlement programme in China which aims to move poor ethnic Chinese farmers to traditionally Tibetan lands.

The lengthy statement, carried in full by the official Xinhua news agency, appeared most concerned by the resolution's reference to Tibet as a country that China has occupied.

By doing so, the European Parliament is obviously trying to render support to a handful of separatists led by the Dalai Lama so as to gain its aim to split China, the statement said.

It is an act of hegemonic politics to pass some resolutions rashly in unjustifiable accusation against others without learning the true fact of the issues concerned, it added.

China is smarting from the collapse of a planned World Bank loan that would have provided US$40 million (S$70.4 million) to resettle 60,000 poor Chinese farmers in areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans.

The loan to fund the programme in the remote western province of Qinghai drew fierce opposition from pro-Tibetan activists and fell apart earlier this month, under pressure from the United States government and other World Bank shareholders.

The Chinese statement rejected accusations in the European resolution that the resettlement was an attempt to assimilate Tibetans. Beijing has argued it is a legitimate effort to alleviate poverty for both ethnic Chinese and Tibetans.

Many international experts have criticised the US for opposing the loan, saying China would likely go ahead with the programme anyway using its own money, and that the affected people would have been better off under World Bank supervision.

The Dalai Lama, exiled spiritual leader of the Buddhist Himalayan region, is thoroughly reviled by Beijing, which claims that he leads an international movement to separate Tibet from China.

China said the parliamentary resolution, and similar ones in the past, threatened to damage relations with Europe.

Such acts by the European Parliament not only greatly hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, but will also produce grave negative effects on the healthy advancement of Sino-European relations, it said. --Reuters, AFP