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China Denies Softer Stance On Dalai Lama

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama prays to mark the first day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year of The Water Dragon 2139, at Tsuglakhang Temple in McLeodganj, India, in February 2012.
China has denied reports that it has relaxed its policies on the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

AFP quoted China's state bureau of religious affairs as saying the government's policy toward the Dalai Lama "is clear and consistent, and has not changed."

The denial comes after a Tibetan rights group and U.S.-based Radio Free Asia reported that Chinese authorities had allowed residents in Tibetan areas to openly venerate the Buddhist leader and reversed a ban on displaying his picture at a monastery in Llasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, and has been accused by Beijing of being an anti-China separatist.

Rights groups accuse Beijing of damaging traditional Tibetan culture through forced relocations and other repressions.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa