by Matthew Hay Brown
Happy Easter, Madam Speaker: China’s state-controlled media lit into Nancy Pelosi on Sunday for meeting with the Dalai Lama last week in India.
The House speaker was the first major foreign official to call on the exiled Tibetan leader since the outbreak of violence in the capital city of Lhasa earlier this month.
“We insist that the world know the truth about what is happening in Tibet,” Pelosi said during the meeting Friday. “If freedom loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in Tibet we have lost all moral authority to speak on human rights anywhere in the world.”
In commentary published Sunday in the China People’s Daily, the official Xinhua News Agency labeled the California Democrat a “muckraker of her own hypocrisy,” saying she “challenged her own conscience” when she condemned “China’s legitimate actions against violence in Tibet, but turned a blind eye to merciless rioters.”
Xinhua complained that “ ‘Human rights police’ like Pelosi are habitually bad tempered and ungenerous when it comes to China, refusing to check their facts and find out the truth of the case.”
In fact, access to the facts in this case has been sharply limited by the refusal of the Chinese government to allow independent observers into the restive areas. Witnesses say demonstrations for Tibetan independence earlier this month turned to violent confrontations with authorities, with rioting, arson, looting and attacks on ethnic minorities.
Beijing has put the death toll at 18; the exiled Tibetan leadership says the number is closer to 100.
A Pelosi spokesman told the Associated Press on Sunday that the speaker condemns the Chinese government’s crackdown and calls on it “to begin a substantive dialogue and to allow journalists and independent monitors into Tibet to find out the truth.”
U.S. affection for Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is a perennial sore spot for the Chinese government. Beijing objected last fall when he was received by President Bush and awarded a Congressional Gold Medal; Chinese officials consider him an enemy of the state.