China Lashes Out at Dalai Lama, 'Clique' of Followers

China heaped more criticism on the Dalai Lama and his followers on Sunday, accusing them of using empty words and concepts as a facade for their goal of independence.

The editorial attacking the Dalai Lama in the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper was part of an ongoing campaign to blame the exiled spiritual leader for inciting recent anti-government protests in Tibet and neighboring provinces in western China.

"The Dalai clique has always been proficient in playing with words. They put forward different kinds of concepts to dazzle people," said the opinion published in Sunday's paper.

But, the editorial said, "there is only one key word behind them — Tibetan independence."

"Tibet has been an inseparable part of China since ancient times," it said. "Any attempt to seek Tibet independence is not permissible."

Many Tibetans say they were essentially an independent nation until Communist forces invaded in 1950, and the Dalai Lama, who fled amid a failed uprising against Chinese rule nine years later, says he seeks meaningful autonomy for Tibet — not independence.

The editorial also criticized the use of terms such as "ethnic conflict" and "cultural genocide" in relation to Chinese rule in Tibet, which Beijing says has been its territory for more than seven centuries.

China has been fighting a public relations battle since peaceful demonstrations in Tibet's capital of Lhasa turned violent on March 14 and protests spread to other Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces.

Chinese authorities say 22 people died in the violence, while overseas Tibet supporters say many times that number were killed in the protests and subsequent crackdown across western China.

The crackdown sparked talk of a possible international boycott of the Aug. 8 opening ceremony of the Beijing Games. Pro-Tibet demonstrators have also reacted, creating chaos at various stops of the Olympic torch relay.

Beijing said Friday that it would meet an envoy of the Dalai Lama, but underscored long-established preconditions for negotiations. The announcement, released on state-run media, gave scant details of the actual process.

The Dalai Lama welcomed China's offer but warned it would be futile if the talks turned out to be only a public relations exercise by Beijing with no real dialogue.

Meanwhile, Woeser, a dissident Tibetan writer said Sunday that her blog — a source of information for the recent unrest — had been hacked into for the second time in a month. She said someone had changed her password, leaving her unable to log on and post new material.

"I don't know who is doing this," she said in a telephone interview from Beijing. It is likely that someone may not want people to see what is going on in Tibet.

"What I write is the truth and they don't want people to see these writings so they want to damage my blog." said Woeser, who like some Tibetans, goes by one name. Woeser is her real name.