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As global pressure piled on it to hold a direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama [Images], China on Thursday asked the Tibetan spiritual leader to create conditions for talks. The Asian giant also voiced grave concern over British Premier Gordon Brown's planned meeting with the Dalai Lama.
Brown telephoned his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao and spoke about the Lhasa riots, which claimed at least 13 lives last Friday.
The British prime minister, who plans to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to the United Kingdom in May, said in London [Images] that he had appealed to Wen to apply restraint in dealing with protests.
However, Beijing [Images] expressed grave concern over Brown's plans to meet the Tibetan leader.
"During the conversation (with Brown), Wen reiterated China's position that the Dalai Lama must abandon the proposition of independence of Tibet and cease his separatist activities," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.
"It is only under these preconditions that the Chinese government talk to him. It is only on that basis that the doors of the dialogue will be open," he said, making it clear that Beijing held on to its well entrenched position.
Asked why China is reluctant to hold direct talks with the Dalai Lama despite his categorical statement against the violence in Lhasa, he said, "We should not only listen to what he says but also pay attention to what he does."
"We request the Dalai Lama to truly give up his proposition for Tibet's independence and stop separatist activities to split the motherland," he said. "He should undertake a thorough review of himself so as to create conditions for the dialogue."
The Dalai Lama has said in the past that he was ready to meet Chinese leaders. His representatives re-established formal contact with China in 2002 after years of silence. They have met six times since, most recently last June in China.
Qin said the Dalai Lama was a political exile engaged in "separatist activities in the guise of a religious leader with the aim of splitting the motherland." He added, "We hope that the international community will recognise the nature of the Dalai clique (groups associated with the Tibetan leader) and do not provide any venue or support to his activities."
The spokesman dismissed a question about China seeking the extradition of the Dalai Lama from India, where he lives in exile. He also avoided questions about China alerting the Interpol since Beijing had accused the Dalai Lama of criminal activities.
"Our position on the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent," Qin said.
He said China had repeatedly elaborated its position on the nature and cause of the riots in Lhasa and "any country with no prejudice and a government upholding justice will understand and support China's dealing with the case in accordance with the law."
The violence in Lhasa was aimed at undermining the social stability and harmonious life and harming China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. "Any country with no bias will draw a right conclusion," Qin said.
"Can looting, arson and smashing of properties be called peaceful? Can we tolerate them? If they can be tolerated is there any law in the world and is there any justice in the world," Qin said, defending the Chinese actions to quell the unrest. "We hope the international community will understand this."
Responding to international criticism of the crackdown, the spokesman said the law enforcement authorities had shown maximum restraint and not used any lethal weapons.
"No responsible government can turn a blind eye (to the violence). If it happens in your country, will you talk about tolerance," Qin told an Italian journalist, who asked for China's response on Pope Benedict XVI's call for tolerance on the Tibet issue.
"Will the police and the government turn a blind eye and sit back," he shot back.
When a German journalist pointed out that two German reporters had been expelled from Tibet, Qin said, "In your country, during the meetings on the World Trade Organisation and human rights, how did the police deal with the protesters?"
Qin said the Dalai Lama could not shirk off his responsibilities for the violence, as he repeated Beijing's accusation that the Buddhist spiritual leader had masterminded and organised it.
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