China grills Spain over Tibet genocide probe

China grills Spain over Tibet genocide probe
Spain's National Court issued an arrest warrant for the former head of state and Communist Party chief on Tuesday in an investigation into genocide in Tibet. File photo: Monster Pete/AFP
China is demanding a "clarification" from Madrid after a Spanish court issued an international arrest warrant for former Chinese president Jiang Zemin over alleged genocide in Tibet, Beijing said on Wednesday.

Spain's National Court issued the warrant for the former head of state and Communist Party chief on Tuesday under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, which allows courts to try some human rights abuses committed in other countries.

Tibetan rights groups brought the case against Jiang, former prime minister Li Peng and three other Chinese officials, alleging they were responsible for "genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and terrorism" against Tibetans in the 1980s and 1990s.

Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that Chinese officials had seen reports on the arrest warrant and had asked Spanish authorities for a "clarification".

If the reports were correct, Hong said, China "expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to relevant agencies in Spain", which he said had neglected China's position.

Beijing hoped Spanish authorities "do not do things that harm the Chinese side and the relationship between China and Spain", he added.

Hong blamed "Tibet separatists" for using "rumours and "slander" to make "false accusations" against China.

"Such means are doomed to fail," Hong added. "China's position on Tibetan-related issues is clear-cut and consistent."

The Spanish court accepted the case because one of the plaintiffs, Tibetan exile Thubten Wangchen, has Spanish nationality, and the Chinese courts have not investigated the allegations.

It has also agreed to investigate a charge of repression in Tibet brought against China's former president Hu Jintao, who left office last year.

China considers Tibet an integral part of its territory, which it has ruled since 1951, a year after invading the Himalayan region.

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