CHENGDU, China – China accused the Dalai Lama on Sunday of stoking Tibetan unrest to sabotage the Beijing Olympics and also berated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she is ignoring the truth about Tibet.
This month's violence in Tibet and neighboring provinces has turned into a public relations disaster for China ahead of the August Olympics, which it had been hoping to use to bolster its international image.
The Chinese government said through official media that formerly restive areas were under control and accused the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, of trying to harm China's image ahead of the summer games.
"The Dalai clique is scheming to take the Beijing Olympics hostage to force the Chinese government to make concessions to Tibet independence," said the People's Daily, the main mouthpiece of the Communist Party.
The Tibetan spiritual leader called the accusations against him "baseless," asserting that he supported China's hosting of the summer games.
"I always support (that) the Olympics should ... take place in Beijing ... so that more than 1 billion human beings, that means Chinese, they feel proud of it," he said Sunday in New Delhi, India.
Pelosi's visit to the Dalai Lama in Dharmsala, India, on Friday was the first by a major foreign official since the protests broke out. The Democratic leader said if people don't speak out against China's oppression in Tibet, "we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world."
China's official Xinhua New Agency published commentary Sunday accusing 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," it said.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Sunday that Pelosi condemns the Chinese government's crackdown in Tibet and calls on it "to begin a substantive dialogue and to allow journalists and independent monitors into Tibet to find out the truth."
China's reported death toll from the protests in the Tibetan capital Lhasa earlier this month is 22. Tibet's exiled government says 99 Tibetans have been killed.
Xinhua said Sunday that 94 people had been injured in four counties and one city in Gansu province in riots on March 15-16. The report also said 19 rioters had surrendered in Gannan, a prefecture in Gansu, but it did not give any details.
Despite the media restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, some information was leaking out. An American backpacker who traveled to Chengdu, the capital of western Sichuan province, said he had seen soldiers or paramilitary troops in Deqen in northwest Yunnan province, which borders Tibet.
"What was an empty parking lot by the library was full of military trucks and people practicing with shields. I saw hundreds of soldiers," said the backpacker, who would give only his first name, Ralpha.
There have been no reported protests in Yunnan.
Monks at the Gedan Song Zan Monastery outside of Zhongdian in northwest Yunnan prayed Sunday for peace and an end to the recent unrest among ethnic Tibetan populations in China. The monks, who characterized themselves as both Tibetan and Chinese, said they felt that the upheaval and riots had helped no one.
The government has insisted that stability has returned to the troubled areas. State broadcaster China Central Television said Sunday that electricity and telecommunications had been restored in Lhasa.
The official lighting of the Olympic torch was set for Monday in Greece, and some 1,000 police will surround Ancient Olympia to keep away pro-Tibetan protesters from the ceremony. The torch is scheduled to travel through 20 countries before the Beijing Olympics open on Aug. 8.
One of Thailand's six torchbearers withdrew Sunday in protest. Environmentalist Narisa Chakrabongse said in an open letter that she decided against taking part in the relay to "send a strong message to China that the world community could not accept its actions."
Meanwhile, a group hosting the Dalai Lama's visit to Germany May 14-20 said Sunday that the trip was still scheduled to take place. The trip is to include meetings between the Dalai Lama and various German state leaders.