BEIJING – China expressed indignation Friday over a U.S. congressional resolution calling on Beijing to stop cracking down on Tibetan dissent and talk to the Dalai Lama.
State media, meanwhile, labeled a group linked to the Dalai Lama's India-based government-in-exile a "terrorist organization" — building on claims that recent anti-Chinese protests were part of a violent campaign to overthrow Chinese rule and sabotage the Beijing Olympics in August.
The Tibetan Youth Congress immediately denied the accusation, saying China's communist leadership had long sought to destroy its effectiveness by smearing its reputation.
The accusations are part of a stepped-up condemnation of Tibetan protesters following massive demonstrations surrounding the Olympic torch's passage through San Francisco, London and Paris this week on its relay around the world.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu labeled the resolution passed Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives anti-Chinese, saying it "twisted Tibet's history and modern reality ... seriously hurting the feelings of the Chinese people."
"The Chinese side expresses its strong indignation and resolute opposition toward this," Jiang said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site.
The resolution sponsored by Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who heads the House of Representatives, called on Beijing to "end its crackdown on nonviolent Tibetan protesters," along with cultural, religious, economic linguistic "repression."
While noting reports of deadly rioting in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas, the resolution called China's response "disproportionate and extreme." It said hundreds of Tibetans had been killed and thousands detained, but did not say how it obtained its information.
China says 22 people were killed in the riots, many in arson attacks, and more than 1,000 detained. The Dalai Lama's India-based government-in-exile says more than 140 people were killed.
The resolution also called on China to begin an unconditional "results-based dialogue" with the 72-year-old Dalai Lama to address Tibetan concerns and work toward a long-term solution to the dispute.
China has held six rounds of contacts with representatives of the Dalai Lama with no apparent result, and has demanded he meet numerous preconditions before it will talk to him directly.
China has accused supporters of the Dalai Lama — what it calls the "Dalai clique" — of orchestrating the violence within its borders.
On Friday, China's official Xinhua News Agency accused the Tibetan Youth Congress of planning deadly rioting on March 14 in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, saying that "exposed the terrorist nature" of the group.
The congress organized recent protests in India and elsewhere overseas coinciding with demonstrations inside Tibet that began peacefully on March 10 among Buddhist monks in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, before spiraling into violence four days later.
"The crimes made the organization look like a kin member of Al Qaeda, Chechnyan armed terrorists and 'East Turkistan' separatists," Xinhua said. East Turkistan is another name for China-controlled Xinjiang, where separatists among its Muslim Turkic ethnic group have been staging a low-intensity insurgency.
As evidence, Xinhua cited alleged statements and speeches by Youth Congress leaders, as well as a purported plot to smuggle weapons into Tibet to launch attacks. The allegations were impossible to verify.
"Judging by these criteria, the TYC is a terrorist organization in a pure sense," Xinhua said.
The accusation was among the strongest against an exile Tibetan group in the latest round of anti-government protests. Chinese police earlier this month accused radicals of organizing "suicide squads to launch violent attacks."
Scholars say the accusations help the government justify its crackdown and demonize the opposition, while driving a wedge between the government-in-exile and groups like the Tibetan Youth Congress that have challenged the Dalai Lama's policy of nonviolence.
TYC Vice President Dhondup Dorji condemned the allegation, saying China had no evidence for the claim.
"The Chinese officials, after seeing that the Tibetan Youth Congress is the most potent force today in the peaceful movement in exile, have been trying to brand it as a terrorist organization for many years without any basis," he told The Associated Press in New Delhi.