China to punish Tibet officials who support Dalai Lama

China to punish Tibet officials who support Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama greets the audience at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington February 20, 2014.

BEIJING - China will severely punish officials in Tibet who support the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader and Nobel laureate, state-run media reported Wednesday.

China's anti-corruption watchdog required officials in the region to concentrate on quashing separatism and maintaining social stability, the Global Times said.

It quoted Ye Dongsong, who headed an inspection team from the Central Commission for Discipline and Inspection (CCDI), the Communist party's internal watchdog, as saying Tibet was not exempt from its much-publicised anti-graft campaign.

"Some grass-roots officials in the region were found to have serious corruption issues," he said. "Some officials have failed to take a firm political stand." In response to the CCDI team's report, Tibet's top Communist party official said the government would severely punish officials who follow the Dalai Lama or support separatism, according to local media.

The Dalai Lama, branded a terrorist by Beijing, fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising and won the Nobel Peace Price in 1989.

The award catapulted him into the global spotlight, and in the decade that followed he was courted by US presidents and Hollywood stars alike as he criss-crossed the world campaigning for greater autonomy in his homeland.

But a quarter of a century later some Western leaders are turning their backs on the Tibetan spiritual leader - sometimes reluctantly - under pressure from China, a rising power and the world's second-largest economy.

A summit for Nobel peace prize winners set to take place in South Africa was cancelled last month after he was denied a visa, and during a visit to Norway government officials declined to meet him so as not to offend Beijing.

More than 130 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 in protest at Chinese rule, according to Radio Free Asia, which is supported by the US government.

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