China raps Obama over exiled Tibetan, Uighur leaders
Nov 18, 2009, 9:48 GMT
Beijing - Chinese President Hu Jintao has urged his US counterpart, Barack Obama, not to allow exiled Tibetan and Uighur leaders to conduct 'anti-China separatist activities' in the United States, reports said on Wednesday.
Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said Hu told Obama in their formal talks on Wednesday that he hoped the United States would 'forbid 'Tibet independence' and 'East Turkestan' forces from using US territory to cover their anti-China separatist activities.'
'Respecting each other's core interests is the key to China-US relations,' He said in remarks carried by state media.
He's comments appeared to be directed mainly at the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader, and Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, both of whom regularly speak out against China's ruling Communist Party at public events in the United States.
US resident Kadeer heads the World Uighur Congress and lobbies on behalf of some 10 million Uighurs in China's far western region of Xinjiang, which is referred to as East Turkestan by many exiled Uighurs.
The Dalai Lama lives in India but often visits the United States, where he has many supporters, including celebrities and top politicians.
Both the Dalai Lama and Rebiya Kadeer have strongly criticized China's policies towards its Tibetan and Uighur minorities, accusing the government of failing to respect traditional cultures and encouraging migration of Han Chinese people into traditionally Tibetan and Uighur areas.
Obama said he urged Hu on Tuesday to hold talks with the Dalai Lama.
Tibetan exile groups criticized Obama for failing to meet the Dalai Lama when the Buddhist leader visited Washington last month, but the US president is expected to meet the Dalai Lama in December.
China blamed the Dalai Lama for encouraging violent anti-Chinese protests by Tibetans last year.
It accuses the Dalai Lama of continuing to seek independence for Tibet despite his regular statements that he only wants to maximize cultural and religious autonomy for Tibetans within China.
China also blamed Kadeer for violent ethnic unrest that led to the death of some 200 people in July in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital, a charge that she rejected.
Rights groups have raised serious concerns about China's harsh treatment of Tibetan and Uighur independence and rights activists.
An officials confirmed on Tuesday that a court in China's Gansu province had sentenced the founder of a Tibetan-language website to 15 years in prison for 'disclosing state secrets,' while a rights group said a Tibetan blogger was also sentenced to five years in prison in a separate case.