Wen attacks Tibetan govt in exile

Beijing: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today branded the Tibetan government in exile in India as a "theocratic" establishment, and accused it of trying force the secession of Tibetan-inhabited areas from China.

The Premier also decried the recent suicides by monks and nuns in Tibetan-dominated areas, seeking the return of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, as "radical" moves. Answering questions for the first time on the situation in Tibet and the four neighbouring provinces, following over 25 self-immolation attempts, Wen said at his annual press conference today that China is opposed to such radical measures.

"The so-called Tibetan government in exile in Dharmashala in India is by nature a theocratic one, both under the direct control of the Dalai Lama or under his indirect influence," he said in his last annual press conference before his expected retirement later this year.

"The purpose of it is to separate Tibet and the Tibetan inhabited areas, the four provinces from China. We have a firm position and principle on this matter," he said.
"At the same time I should point out that all should recognise that Tibet and Tibetan inhabited areas of four provinces are inseparable part of China`s territory," he said.

Referring to the recent spate of suicides and attempted self immolations, he said such behaviour was distressing. "We are opposed to taking such radical moves which disturb and undermine social harmony. The young Tibetans are innocent. We are deeply distressed by their behaviour," he said.

Chinese officials have blamed the Dalai Lama for instigating the suicides though Wen did not directly blame the Tibetan spiritual leader. At the same time, Wen admitted that development in Tibetan areas had lagged behind compared to mainland China.

Tibet practices regional ethnic autonomy system. The region comprising Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan, is often referred to as Greater Tibet by the Dalai Lama.
"Over the past years Tibet has made significant progress in economic and social development. But we also recognise Tibet is still behind the central and eastern parts of China in terms of economic and social progress," he said.

"The Chinese government has taken strong measures to accelerate economic and social development in Tibet including the formulation of new plan for that purpose in the hope that we will able to further promote the living standards of farmers and herdsmen of Tibet," he said.

"Tibet needs to develop its economy on sustained basis, at the same time we must pay close attention to environment conservation and preservation of Tibet`s cultural heritage. "We respect the freedom of religious belief of Tibetan compatriots and their religious belief is protected by law. We must treat all our Tibetan compatriots with respect and make continuous improvement in our work in this area." he said.