By CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writer
CHENGDU, China – China lashed out Sunday at critics of its crackdown on Tibetan protesters, describing U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “habitually bad tempered” while claiming the Western media serve those who want to smear the communist country.
Paramilitary police march in a street in Zhongdian, in a Tibetan area known as Shangri-La, in China’s southwest Yunnan province Saturday March 22, 2008. Thousands of troops have moved into Tibetan areas of western China following last week’s anti-government riots in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa.(AP Photo/Greg Baker)
The barrage of complaints carried in official media — which included more broadsides against the Dalai Lama — came as the country sought to present its own version of the deadly anti-Chinese protests and their aftermath. The crackdown has been a public relations disaster for China ahead of the Beijing Olympics — a Thailand torchbearer withdrew Sunday in protest.
With foreign media banned and troops dispatched en masse to quell the most widespread demonstrations against Chinese rule in nearly five decades, independent information barely trickled out of the Tibetan capital Lhasa and other far-flung communities.
The People’s Daily, the main mouthpiece of the Communist Party, placed the blame for the recent riots on Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama.
“The Dalai clique is scheming to take the Beijing Olympics hostage to force the Chinese government to make concessions to Tibet independence,” it said.
The attacks on the Dalai Lama have been aimed at further demonizing him in the eyes of the Chinese public, which strongly supports the Olympics. The Dalai Lama, who advocates nonviolence and denies being behind the March 14 riots in Lhasa, asserted Sunday that he has supported China’s hosting of the summer Games.
“I mean the Olympics…take place in Beijing…so that more than 1 billion human beings, that means Chinese, they feel proud of it,” he said on the sidelines of a Buddhist prayer session in New Delhi.
The official Xinhua New Agency, meanwhile, published a commentary bashing Pelosi, a fierce critic of China who on Friday visited the Dalai Lama at his headquarters in India, where she called China’s crackdown “a challenge to the conscience of the world.”
Xinhua accused Pelosi of ignoring the violence caused by the Tibetan rioters. “‘Human rights police’ like Pelosi are habitually bad tempered and ungenerous when it comes to China, refusing to check their facts and find out the truth of the case,” it said.
“Her views are like so many other politicians and western media. Beneath the double standards lies their intention to serve the interest groups behind them, who want to contain or smear China.”
Reports of how many people died in the violence have varied and been impossible to independently verify. China raised its death toll to 22, with Xinhua reporting Saturday that the charred remains of an 8-month-old boy and four adults were pulled from a garage burned down in Lhasa last Sunday — two days after the city erupted in anti-Chinese rioting. The Dalai Lama’s exiled government says 99 Tibetans have been killed, 80 in Lhasa, 19 in Gansu province.
The Chinese government has sought to portray itself and Chinese businesses as the victims.
Xinhua said Sunday that 94 people had been injured in four counties and one city….
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