BEIJING: A senior Chinese official has denounced the Dalai Lama’s long-standing pursuit of autonomy for Tibet, describing it as equivalent to advocating Tibetan independence, state media said yesterday.
The comments by Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the top advisory body to parliament, signal that China would probably refuse to pursue a compromise with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
The Dalai Lama, who fled China in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, is considered a violent separatist by Beijing.
“In the fundamental sense, ‘high-level autonomy’ means Tibet’s independence,” Zhu was quoted as saying in the China Daily newspaper. “It is separated into two steps. The first step is so-called autonomy. The second one is actual independence.”
The Dalai Lama’s brand of autonomy “is against China’s autonomy system and does nothing but insert secessionist elements into China’s regional ethnic autonomy law”, Zhu was quoted as saying.
The Dalai Lama’s approach, called the “Middle Way” by Tibetans, seeks a Hong Kong-style autonomy for the region, with Tibetans to respect Chinese sovereignty over their homeland but have a greater say over religious and cultural affairs.