China calls for renewed fight against Dalai Lama

Image caption It is nearly three years since riots and unrest rocked Tibetan areas

A senior Chinese leader says Beijing should launch a fresh struggle against the influence of the Dalai Lama in Tibet.

The comments were made by Jia Qinglin, who sits on the standing committee of the Chinese Communist Party's powerful politburo.

He said China also needed to raise the living standards of Tibetan people.

The call comes nearly three years after riots and unrest in Tibetan areas which China blamed on the Dalai Lama.

'Handle carefully'

Mr Jia made the comments at a two-day meeting to discuss developments in Tibet and in other provinces where Tibetans live.

The attendance of China's public security minister, Meng Jianzhu, suggests Beijing's control in Tibet was a major issue.

"The fight against the Dalai Lama clique must be continued and deepened," the state-run news agency Xinhua quote Mr Jia as saying.

But he added that initiatives used to ensure stability should be "circumspectly deployed".

He said that issues related to Tibetan Buddhism must be "handled well", perhaps an acknowledgement that a heavy-handed crackdown on religion could prove counterproductive.

The Chinese authorities have long vilified the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism who fled the region more than 50 years ago.

He now lives in exile in India, but his influence in Tibet is still immense - which is why China continues to attack him.

This is, though, only one part of Beijing's strategy to secure control over Tibet, which it claims has been part of China for centuries.

It has also been spending millions of dollars improving the living standards of people there.

Just this week, it said the number of Tibetans living in absolute poverty had nearly halved in five years.

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