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CHINA

China angry over Spain’s Tibet genocide claims

Beijing expressed anger on Tuesday after a Spanish judge sought arrest warrants for former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and four other senior officials as part of a probe into alleged genocide in Tibet.

China angry over Spain's Tibet genocide claims
Tibetan women hold an effigy of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, the man many hold responsible for the alleged genocide in Tibet in the 1990s. Photo: Ravi Raveendran/AFP

"China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to the erroneous acts taken by the Spanish agencies in disregard of China's position," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing.

Hua's comments came after Spanish High Court Judge Ismael Moreno on Monday ordered Interpol to issue arrest warrants for the five for genocide, torture and crimes against humanity, in a case brought against them by human rights groups.

"Jiang exercised supervisory authority over the people who directly committed abuses, which makes him responsible for acts of torture and other major abuses of human rights perpetrated by his subordinates against the people of Tibet," Moreno wrote in his ruling.

"He promoted and actively implemented policies whose objective was to populate the Autonomous Region of Tibet with a majority from the Han ethnic group, detain thousands of Tibetans during lengthy periods, torture the detained and submit them to other illegal abuses."

In addition to Jiang, the judge ordered the arrest of former premier Li Peng and three others.

The High Court in November said it had accepted arguments from Spanish pro-Tibet human rights groups that the five men may have had a role in human rights abuses and should be questioned.

The case was brought by the rights groups under Spain's recognition of "universal jurisdiction", a doctrine that allows judges to hear certain cases of human rights abuses committed in other countries.

The theory allowed Spain's former judge Baltasar Garzon to try to arrest and put on trial the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Jiang is unlikely ever to appear in a Spanish dock, but Hua blasted what she referred to as overseas groups pursuing Tibetan independence and called for the Spanish government to "see through the Dalai group's attempt to split the country", referring to exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Still, she emphasised that as China does not interfere in other countries' affairs it had no comment on how "domestic forces in Spain deal with" the issue.

"But I believe this incident concerns the sound development of bilateral relations, so we hope that the Spanish government can properly deal with this matter and tell right from wrong," she added.

While very few probes opened under "universal jurisdiction" have seen the accused brought to trial in Spain, investigations have irritated some countries.

Last month, lawmakers from Spain's ruling Popular Party tabled a bill to limit courts' use of the doctrine.

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FOOTBALL

Wu Lei’s move to Spain’s ‘Liga’ is ‘massive’, says ‘China’s Beckham’

Wu Lei's transfer to La Liga is "massive" for Chinese football, says a former international who made a similar journey 19 years ago and helped convince the forward to take the plunge in Europe.

Wu Lei's move to Spain's 'Liga' is 'massive', says 'China's Beckham'
Espanyol's unveiled its new Chinese forward Wu Lei on January 29, 2019. Photo: AFP

Xie Hui knows what it is like to venture out of the relative obscurity of Chinese football and make a success of it, having scored goals in Germany's second division.

Now 44 and retired from playing, Xie also knows Wu better than most after working with him for the last few years at Chinese Super League champions Shanghai SIPG.


Xie Hui looking on during an AFC Champions League group stage football match last week. 

Wu left SIPG, where Xie is an assistant coach, for Espanyol in January for a reported €2 million ($2.25 million) and made history this month when he became the first Chinese to score in Spain's top league.

Few Chinese have played among Europe's elite, but Xie told AFP that 27-year-old Wu can make as much of an impact — if not more — as Sun Jihai, who was at Premier League Manchester City from 2002-2008.

“I have no doubt that he has the capability to play in a top league, in a decent team,” Xie said of last season's CSL top-scorer.   

“He always had this dream so he would talk to me and say, 'Oh, but what about the language?' But football is a common language.   

“I told him not to worry, the most important is on the pitch and the training ground. They will respect you if you show it on the pitch, it's as simple as that.”

Xie, who once earned comparisons to David Beckham, because he was married to an actress/model, sent Wu a message of congratulations after his landmark goal in Chinese-owned Espanyol's 3-1 win over Real Valladolid.   

Wu's progress is being closely monitored in China and millions back home will watch the broadcast of Espanyol's city derby with Lionel Messi's Barcelona on March 30.

“It's massive, massive, and something we missed for almost the last 15 years,” Xie said of what Wu's move meant for the development of Chinese football.

Need for speed

Like Wu, Xie was a forward, and after starting his career at Shanghai Shenhua, he moved to Alemannia Aachen in Germany's second tier in 2000.   

Xie hit 20 goals in 52 games and attracted the attention of teams in Germany's top flight, before returning to Shenhua in 2002.   

He had two further stints in Germany, before retiring in 2008.   

Xie, who scored nine goals in 22 appearances for China, warned that Wu will need to be patient and “speed up his mindset” in Spain.   

“Pace and physically, he has no problem,” Xie said.   

“But the CSL is much slower, he had much more time, two seconds in front of the goal. But maybe in Spain, you have just one second.”   

Xie, who has worked under the “unique personalities” of Sven-Goran Eriksson, Andre Villas-Boas and now Vitor Pereira at SIPG, is confident Wu will succeed in La Liga.

But he is less optimistic about the immediate future of Chinese football.   

“I do not see that many (like Wu Lei), I would say another one or two, and that's it of that generation,” he warned.   

That dearth of quality hurts the national side, who have qualified for the World Cup only once, in 2002.

So what hopes of reaching Qatar 2022?   

“That will be a miracle, I would not bet over 50 percent,” said Xie.

“From my understanding it will come, but later, at least 10 years from now.

By AFP's Peter Stebbings 

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