Chinese official urges struggle against Dalai Lama

A top Chinese Communist Party official has called for a renewed struggle against the Dalai Lama's influence, as well as strengthened controls over Tibetan Buddhism, state media reported Friday.

Jia Qinglin's comments come weeks ahead of the third anniversary of the most widespread uprising against Chinese rule by Tibetans in decades.

China blamed followers of the exiled Dalai Lama for fomenting the disturbances on March 14, 2008, including a riot in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, that left 22 people dead.

The Dalai Lama, who heads the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile in India, has denied the charge.

"We must deepen the fight against the Dalai Lama clique, more circumspectly carry out each task in maintaining stability and do a solid job in regards to Tibetan Buddhism," Jia was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as telling party officials at a meeting Thursday.

Officials must "create a positive environment for development" in Tibet and Tibetan regions of four neighboring provinces, said Jia, the ruling Communist Party's fourth-highest ranking official.

Jia's remarks reflect China's two-pronged approach toward Tibet that combines pumping in funds to boost incomes while tightening controls over religious and political dissent.

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1958, remains deeply revered among many Tibetans, despite Beijing's decades-long campaign to vilify him and undermine his influence. Successive rounds of talks between Chinese officials and representatives of the Buddhist leader have made no apparent progress toward bringing the sides together.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China, despite his claims to be working only for a high degree of autonomy under Chinese rule.

China says Tibet has been part of its territory for at least four centuries, while many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for most of that time.