Lhasa: Calling the Dalai Lama "a small figure", China on Thursday dismissed him as an old Lama who wears Gucci shoes and likes to travel around the world to mislead the international community on Tibet.
   
"Since 1959, the Dalai has been in exile (in India). He is an old Lama, who wears Gucci shoes, likes to travel around the world and is interested in political affairs," Xie Ying, a top official of the Government Information Office, Tibet
Autonomous Region of China, said.
   
China calls him a separatist and a terrorist, bent on killing innocent Han Chinese and "splitting the motherland".

The Dalai Lama has repeatedly denied seeking Tibet's independence from China.
   
The Dalai is a "small figure" in the international community, Xie told a group of foreign journalists here in reply to a question, adding that the Tibetan spiritual leader has supporters who are backing him.
     
He "misleads many people around the world" about the Tibet Autonomous Region, she said about the 76-year-old leader, who has already retired from active political lives and is the 'symbolic head' of the exiled Tibetan government.
     
She said that her government has made a lot of efforts to introduce Tibet to the outside world. "Our main task is to introduce the real Tibet to the outside world."
    
"Since the peaceful liberation of Tibet 60 years ago, the focus of the Chinese government has been on its development. Following the 1978 reforms, relations between China and the outside world have been getting closer and we have started introducing Tibet to the foreign countries," Xie, Deputy Director at the Government Information Office of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, said.

Over the past 20 years, the Chinese government as well as the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region has made "great efforts" to carry out exchanges with the outside world, Xie Ying, a top official of the Government Information Office,
Tibet Autonomous Region of China said.
    
"We encourage more people from abroad to visit Tibet," she said, adding that in 2010, the remote Himalayan region received 220,000 tourists and a number of foreign delegations.
    
Xie said there is still a lot to do in future to introduce Tibet to the outside world.
    
Duoji Ciren, Deputy Director of the Tibet Ethnic and Religious Committee, said that people should have "different understanding" about the previous Dalais and the 14th Dalai Lama as well as their titles.
   
"When foreign tourists visit various cultural sites in Tibet, including the famous Potala Palace of the Dalai Lama, they also get to know about all the Dalai Lamas."
   
"While the previous Dalais have made great contribution to the protection of the Tibetan culture and unification of the region, the 14th Dalai Lama has done damage," he claimed.
   
On Sino-India ties, Xie said that the two countries have shared friendship for over 2,000 years. "Tibet Autonomous Region is connected with India through rivers and mountains and feels very close to India."
   
"Chinese government and the Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have been working to improve relations and friendship between the two countries," she said. "Our relations can improve further in future as we are closely
connected geologically."
   
Replying to a question about the possibility of air connectivity between Lhasa and Delhi, Xie said that "we will make rapid development in future about expanding our flights."
   
"In the past 60 years, we have made great achievements. There are five airports in Tibet and one is under construction," she said, adding there are 23 domestic flights and one international which connect Lhasa to Kathmandu.
   
"The Tibet airline was officially established in July," Xie said.
   
On the development of the Tibetan railway network, she said the Tibet Autonomous Region has a five-year plan in this regard.

 "We are currently in the first year of the plan and hope to connect Lhasa with Linzhi region of China soon."

(Agencies)