Olympics-China rejects Games link with Tibet, Sudan

From http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnPEK87337.html

China on Thursday defended its policies in Tibet and its relations with the government of Sudan, saying it was wrong for activists to seize on the issues as a way to pressure Beijing ahead of the Olympic Games in August.

The Dalai Lama told Britain's ITV last week in an interview that Tibet supporters should protest peacefully in China against Beijing's rule in the mountainous region during the Olympics.

But a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman repeated the government's position that the Dalai Lama, seen as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, was a separatist and a traitor.

"He has explicitly shown in words and deeds that he's a political exile, long-engaged in separatist activities," spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news conference.

"We hope relevant countries will recognise his nature and will not support his activities."

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese Communist rule in Tibet, where critics say Beijing curbs religious and political freedoms.

Jiang also rejected attempts to link the Olympics with Beijing's policies in Sudan, the war-torn country where China has oil investments and close ties with the government.

"To link the Darfur issue with the Olympics is a move to politicise the Olympics. This is inconsistent with the Olympic spirit and principles and will bear no fruit," she said.

More than four years of conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur have left 200,000 dead and driven another 2.5 million from their homes, according to estimates from international experts. Khartoum says 9,000 people have died.

Jiang said China's ties with the government did not mean it was fomenting the conflict in Darfur, adding that China was taking an active part in the multilateral peacekeeping force now deployed in Sudan.

"On the issue of Darfur, the international community knows very well that China is playing a constructive role," she said.

Asked if China has used its leverage with Sudan to condemn it over allegations that government forces attacked a U.N.-African Union convoy earlier this month, Jiang said "various problems and difficulties" with the peacekeeping force were natural.

Sudan has denied the U.N. accusations that its forces staged the attack, pointing the finger at Chadian-backed rebels instead.

(Reporting by Lindsay Beck; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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