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China rejects Spain's 'genocide' claims

China has denounced a Spanish court's investigation into claims of genocide in Tibet as an interference in its internal affairs and dismissed the allegations as "sheer fabrication".

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Liu Jianchao, said Beijing opposed any interference in its internal affairs, including on Tibet issues.

A Spanish judge opened proceedings on Monday in a lawsuit brought by the Madrid-based Committee to Support Tibet. The group filed the suit against several former Chinese officials under a Spanish law that allows prosecution of human rights crimes.

In its lawsuit, the human rights group said that more than one million Tibetans had been killed or gone missing since China occupied Tibet in 1951.

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in India after an abortive 1959 uprising against increasingly heavy-handed Chinese rule. China has labelled the Dalai Lama a separatist seeking to use his religious authority to gain independence for Tibet.

The Spanish National Court will hear witnesses before deciding whether to file charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, state terrorism and torture against China's former president Jiang Zemin, the former prime minister Li Peng and five military and security officials in Tibet, some of whom have retired.

Mr Liu said China and Spain had friendly ties and had enjoyed a "smooth development of bilateral relations in recent years".