Peking protests US congressional efforts to support Tibet

China issued a strong protest yesterday against the United States and US legislators' efforts to help Tibet curtail Peking's rule. Peking expressed its ``strong indignation'' over a US Senate vote Tuesday condemning China for violating the human rights of Tibetans.

Meanwhile, some of the more than 1,000 Chinese militia flown to the former Himalayan kingdom stood guard in the Tibetan capital to halt rallies on the 37th anniversary of China's invasion of Tibet, according to travelers arriving in Chengdu from Lhasa. (Efforts to reach Lhasa yesterday by telex were unsuccessful and telephone operators declined to place calls to the Tibetan capital.)

``We strongly demand that the US Congress immediately stop all its activities interfering in China's internal affairs in the overall interest of safeguarding the friendly relations between China and the United States,'' said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Li Jinhua.

US diplomats in Peking declined to comment on the statement. However, other Western diplomats noted that Peking primarily aimed the denunciation at Congress, not the White House and official US policy. Officially, the United States recognizes China's control of Tibet.

The Tibetan question should not upset otherwise stable Sino-US ties unless anti-Chinese strife spreads on a larger scale throughout the central Asian region, the diplomats said. A harsh crackdown on such protests could force an official US comment critical of Peking, they added.

In the vote, the Senate noted that on Oct. 1 Chinese police fired on hundreds of unarmed Tibetans, who were enraged by the arrest of 40 monks during a peaceful rally for independence.

The Senate also reiterated a claim of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus that China executed two political prisoners to retaliate for the Sept. 19-29 visit to the US by the Dalai Lama, Tibet's self-exiled spiritual leader. Chinese officials in Lhasa said the two men were criminals.

The Senate urged the White House to ``make the treatment of the Tibetan people an important factor'' in ties to China, saying arms sales to China should be linked with China's treatment of Tibetans.

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