BEIJING – A senior Chinese official has accused the Dalai Lama of conspiring with a host of perceived enemies, from Islamic separatists to the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, to weaken Beijing's hold over his homeland in Tibet, state media reported Monday.
In a speech, Tibet's Communist Party secretary, Zhang Qingli, warned that the Dalai Lama was "ganging up with Taiwan independence forces, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, democracy movements, and the Falun Gong in an attempt to establish an alliance aimed at splitting the motherland," the official Xinhua News Agency reported on it Web site.
The remarks marked an unusually broad attack. The Tibetan leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who fled into exile in 1959, is widely revered across ardently Buddhist Tibet, and Beijing fears he could be a rallying point against China's often harsh rule over the Himalayan region.
Zhang's list includes groups Beijing has accused of threatening the communist government or Chinese sovereignty. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement has called for independence for the Muslim, Central Asian border province of Xinjiang and is alleged to have links to Al Qaeda. The Falun Gong, a meditation practice, managed to draw millions of followers in the 1990s before Beijing violently suppressed the group, banning it as a cult.
Xinhua did not specify how the disparate groups were linked or how the Dalai Lama was working with them.
"The Dalai clique has stepped up efforts to infiltrate (China's) domestic territory and has schemed to move the center of its separatist activities into domestic territory," Xinhua paraphrased Zhang as saying to a meeting of 600 officials in Lhasa on Friday.
In recent weeks, Beijing has stepped up a diplomatic campaign meant to isolate the Dalai Lama and intimidate foreign governments from hosting him. He canceled an appearance in Belgium after China objected, and a planned visit to Australia next month drew warnings from the Chinese Foreign Ministry last week.
Despite China's accusations that he is trying to foment rebellion, the Dalai Lama has said he wants Beijing to grant Tibet genuine autonomy in hopes of preserving the region's Buddhist culture.