Chinese anger and terror warnings cloud Olympics

BEIJING Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:07pm IST

Paramilitary police for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games take part in a training session in Beijing April 10, 2008. REUTERS/Joe Chan

Paramilitary police for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games take part in a training session in Beijing April 10, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Chan

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China said it was outraged by a resolution by U.S. lawmakers urging an end to a crackdown in Tibet as a Beijing-run newspaper linked al Qaeda to claimed plots to attack the Beijing Olympics.

The condemnation came in response to a U.S. House of Representatives resolution urging China to open dialogue with the Dalai Lama, end a crackdown on "non-violent" Tibetan protesters and halt "repression" in the region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said her government was "strongly indignant and resolutely opposed" to the resolution passed on Wednesday with the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Jiang said the U.S. lawmakers should instead direct their ire at what Beijing calls the Dalai Lama's clique, which China has blamed for deadly rioting in Tibet's regional capital Lhasa on March 14 and subsequent protests across Tibetan areas.

"It is confusing black with white and is vicious-minded of certain members of the U.S. House of Representatives to not only fail to condemn the attacks, smashing, looting and arson in Lhasa ... but rather to point the spear at the Chinese government and people," Jiang said.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, has rejected claims that he orchestrated the violence, and Western governments have urged China to open up conciliatory contacts.

But China has underscored the gulf of perceptions over Tibet by saying that groups campaigning for independence there have joined militant Muslim Uighurs fighting for an independent "East Turkestan" in the northwest region of Xinjiang.

China said on Thursday it had foiled "terrorist" plots to kidnap foreigners and carry out suicide attacks around the Beijing Olympics in August.

COLLUSION

Police in Xinjiang detained 45 suspects, seized explosives and firearms and cracked two terrorist groups seeking to disrupt the Olympics, a Ministry of Public Security official said.

The Wen Wei Po, a Hong Kong newspaper backed by the mainland, said Uighur extremists were colluding with the exiled Tibetan Youth Congress and even al Qaeda to target the Beijing Games.

"Al Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and Tibetan Youth Congress are all planning to make the Beijing Olympic Games the target of terror attacks, and have strengthened collusion and collaboration," said the paper in a commentary.

"The Dalai clique is not only implicated with al Qaeda, it is colluding with the East Turkestan organisation."

Human rights groups have said the Chinese government is using the perceived terror threats, denied by exiled Uighur groups, to justify tough controls in Xinjiang.

Konchok Yangphel, a New Delhi-based spokesman for the Tibetan Youth Congress, said the Wen Wei Po report was ridiculous.

"We are trying to stick to non-violence and demonstrations and have not engaged in violence," he said by telephone. But he said the group did not rule out the possibility of violence occurring in Tibet "if people are forced by Chinese violence".

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge said he was happy with how preparations for securing the Aug. 8-24 Games were proceeding.

"We discuss security each time we meet the Beijing organising committee, we have received assurances from the authorities that there will be the necessary and appropriate level of security," he told a news conference in Beijing at the end of a two-day meeting of the IOC's executive board.

The Beijing Games torch relay, which has been dogged by protests by Tibet activists, will resume under heavy security in Buenos Aires on Friday after disruption in London, Paris and San Francisco.

Argentine activists opposed to China's rule of Tibet have promised to carry out non-violent "surprise actions" during the day.

Rogge said protesters had hijacked the relay.

"The protesters know there will be many media and their complaints will be heard all over the world. No one is attacking the Games, some people are using it," he said.

Chief Beijing organiser Liu Qi earlier told the IOC his team were working to avoid more chaotic scenes in the remaining legs of the relay.

The torch relay's San Francisco route was abruptly changed by city officials this week, while Indonesia has said it would significantly shorten its leg of the relay on April 22.

Jin Jing, 27, a wheelchair-bound Chinese torch bearer, has rocketed to national fame after the Paralympic fencer fended off protesters in Paris.

"I still feel very angry now, and I think the man was very irrational," she told Reuters. "Hosting the Olympics is such a good thing for our country, so why do they want to ruin it?"

Zhan Yongxin of Chinese Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong said the attack showed that "some people are physically able, but spiritually disabled, while others have disabled bodies but their spirit is sound."

Kenyan Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai pulled out of Sunday's Tanzanian leg of the relay to highlight her concerns about Tibet.

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