China rejects EU criticism

BEIJING: China has hit back at European Union criticism of the execution of two Tibetans over unrest in the Himalayan region last year and warned Europe not to interfere in the issue.

The response came after the 27-nation European bloc on Thursday issued a statement condemning the executions and questioning whether the Tibetans had received fair trials.

"We express strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the statement issued by the European side," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a response posted on the ministry's website late on Friday.

Ma said on Tuesday that the two Tibetans had been executed for their role in deadly ethnic unrest that rocked the region in March of last year, the first known use of capital punishment over the violence.

Fierce anti-China protests erupted in Lhasa and spread across Tibet and adjacent areas with Tibetan populations, embarrassing the government as it sought to play up national unity in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Ma repeated China's insistence that the unrest was planned and organised by what it calls a Dalai Lama "clique," a claim that it has never publicly backed up with any evidence.

He said China rejected "interference" in its domestic affairs.

"We ask that Europe adhere to the principle of equality and mutual respect, and not send wrong signals to 'Tibet independence' separatist forces, so that healthy and stable development of China-Europe relations can be maintained."

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, of agitating for independence in his homeland. He denies that, however, insisting he only wants greater regional autonomy for Tibet.

China has said "rioters" were responsible for 21 deaths in last year's violence, while its security forces killed only one "insurgent."

But the exiled Tibetan government has said more than 200 Tibetans were killed in the subsequent crackdown.