New Delhi, Apr.15 : China on Tuesday said it hoped that India would attach "great importance" to the Beijing Olympic torch relay in New Delhi on April 17, and take "effective" measures to ensure its smooth run.
China has maintained close "contact and cooperation" with India on the relay, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a regular bi-weekly news briefing in Beijing.
"On the holding of the torch relay, India has expressed many times that the relay in India, it is the pride and glory of Asian people, including people of India and so India attaches great importance to the relay," she said.
"We hope the Indian side will attach great importance to the torch relay there and take affective measures to ensure a smooth relay in India," she said.
Jiang, who was asked if China was satisfied with the security arrangements made by India and if any disruption of the relay would impact ties between the two countries, said Sino-India relations had enjoyed a "good momentum of development" in recent years.
Responding to another query whether China expected protests during the torch relay in India, she said, "We believe that with the cooperation and support of the Indian side, we will have a smooth torch relay".
"If anyone wants to disturb or interrupt (the relay) in India, it will again show the true nature of sabotage of the separatists", she said, apparently referring to Tibetans in exile in India.
Meanwhile, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has renewed his call for "meaningful" autonomy for Tibet, while charging Beijing with carrying out a "cultural genocide" in his Himalayan homeland.
In an interview with a radio station in the United States where he is on a visit, the Dalai Lama expressed hope about returning to Tibet one day.
"Since we have our own unique cultural heritage, including our language, our script, these matters should be in the hands of Tibetans who know about our culture, about our religion," said the Dalai Lama.
But with the "present arrangement, whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place," he said.
The Dalai Lama said the Chinese Government should be in charge of foreign affairs, but "the rest of local business should be in the hands of Tibetans. Autonomy is meaningless just on paper. So, we are appealing to the Chinese central authority: Now give us meaningful autonomy".
Expressing concern about China's recent clampdown in Tibet, he said "if things continue as it is, then tightening control will increase," he said.
"So naturally, a lot of suffering, a lot of problems and great damage about Tibetan Buddhist culture. So there's much worry."
In his first public comments on the protests, Chinese President Hu Jintao had said on Saturday: "Our conflict with the Dalai clique is not an ethnic problem, not a religious problem. It is a problem either to safeguard national unification or to split the motherland."
In the interview, the Dalai Lama called Hu's remarks "quite strange but OK if they really enjoy to attack (me). People, I think, don't believe that. Even the Chinese people."
He said he's saddened by the negative image of him painted by China's government-controlled media.
"Millions of Chinese those innocent Chinese - who have no other way to access the situation, totally rely on the government information."
"These millions of Chinese then really feel anger towards me. At that I feel very sad. What's the way to tell these innocent Chinese brothers (and) sisters the reality? But there's no way to send information or to send news."
The Dalai Lama said he does not support a boycott against the Beijing Olympics, but he backs people's right to demonstrate "provided (it's) strictly non-violent."
He said the freedom of speech is very important. He noted that even in Tibet and "among our friends, some are very, very critical towards me," saying he's too moderate.
"For example, my own elder brother one time described me as a traitor" to Tibet, the Dalai Lama said.
"But I never say to these people, 'Shut up.' ... It's their right to express what they feel."
Asked if he hopes to see Tibet again, he said "Yes, we believe, we believe."
The Dalai Lama also said Tibet gains many benefits by remaining part of China, but it must hold on to its cultural heritage.
Tibet is "materially backward and "every Tibetan" wants a "modernised Tibet," he added. "(Tibet should) remain within the People's Republic of China. As far as material development is concerned, we gain much benefit."