Brushing aside calls for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, China has vowed to "crush" the "Tibet independence forces" as it raised to 19 the death toll in riots that rocked Lhasa last week during the most virulent anti-China protests in two decades.
"China must resolutely crush the Tibet independence forces' conspiracy and sabotaging activities," the People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), said in its commentary on Saturday, effectively rejecting growing calls from the West for China to hold dialogue with the Dalai Lama to end the crackdown on agitators.
"We must see through the secessionist forces' evil intentions" and maintain stability and protect people's "fundamental interests", the commentary said.
As it intensified its manhunt for the "most-wanted" suspects and rushed more troops to the restive areas in Tibet, Sichuan and Gansu provinces, the government said 18 civilians and a police officer were killed in the recent mob violence.
China had earlier said 13 civilians were either burned or hacked to death while the Tibetan government in exile based at Dharamsala has disputed the official casualties figure and put the toll at 99.
The People's Daily said the violent incidents were created by the "Tibet independence forces" and masterminded by the "Dalai Lama clique", with the "vicious intention" of undermining the Olympics and splitting Tibet from China.
''They exposed the Dalai clique's hypocrisy in proclaiming non-violence, peaceful dialogue, not seeking independence and caring for the Tibetan people," the paper said.
China has asserted that nearly 100 countries had demonstrated their support to its action to quell the unrest.
"It is a clear proof that the international community is on the side of China," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quoted as saying by official Xinhua news agency.
China's response came a day after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi met the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala and demanded an "independent, outside" investigation into Beijing's allegation that the Tibetan spiritual leader was the instigator of the unrest.
She also asked all "freedom-loving" people to speak out against China's "oppression" in Tibet.
Dismissing the Dalai Lama as a "chief representative of the surf system" and a political refugee engaged in activities of splitting China, Qin said China opposed any "encouragement or support" for the secessionist attempts of the "Dalai clique" which violated the basic principles of international relations.
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, has repeatedly denied charges of inciting the Lhasa riots and said he was ready to meet the Chinese leadership for a dialogue.
China has insisted that the Dalai Lama must recognize Tibet and Taiwan as parts of China and undergo a "thorough review of himself" to create conditions for talks.