Chinese Patrol Restive Areas Bordering Tibet
Pelosi Meets With Dalai Lama in India
Saturday, March 22, 2008
BEIJING, March 21 -- Chinese troops and police continued to patrol restive areas in provinces bordering Tibet on Friday, as calls mounted for China to allow foreign observers access to affected areas.
The official New China News Agency reported that the death toll from rioting in Tibet a week ago had risen to 19. China had previously reported that 16 people were killed; the Tibetan government-in-exile, relying on witness testimony, puts the figure at 80.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a critic of Chinese rights abuses, met with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, in the Indian city of Dharmsala, "to shed the bright light of truth on what is happening in Tibet."
"If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world," Pelosi said.
Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said in an interview with the Bild newspaper that he would urge his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, to clarify the situation. "We want to know exactly what is going on in Tibet," Steinmeier said. "China is only hurting itself by preventing foreign observers from seeing what is going on."
Anti-Chinese protests exploded a week ago in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and spread to other provinces of China with large Tibetan populations. The Chinese government responded with a crackdown by security forces.
On Friday, several of the areas were calm and the heavy police presence had diminished somewhat, witnesses said.
But truckloads of troops continued to converge on the Tibetan autonomous areas in the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan.
In northwest Yunnan province's Zhongdian county, the owner of a guesthouse said police were patrolling the streets in groups of five or six; last week, they were patrolling with more than 10 officers at a time.
"Domestic tourists can enter, but foreigners cannot. Since 99 percent of my business is foreigners, my business is suffering," said the owner, who gave only his surname, Jiang.
A motorcycle shop owner in Zhongdian said many of the troops he saw Friday were passing through on the way to Tibet. "There are police patrolling the streets and many army trucks transporting soldiers," said the shop owner, who gave only his last name, Hu.
State media described a controlled situation and continued vigilance against the Dalai Lama's political supporters, whom the government calls "separatists."
The People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, reported that in Lhasa traffic had returned to normal Friday, most shops and schools had reopened and "the social order was back to normal."
Meanwhile, CCTV, the government-run network, broadcast a program Thursday night with 15 minutes of footage from the crackdown, the longest released so far by government officials.
"I personally tried to guarantee that we didn't cut any violence made by the police toward Tibetans," said Tao Yueqing, who produced the program. "We only cut scenes such as the burned bodies, which belong to five dead girls working for a clothes shop."
Researcher Zhang Jie contributed to this report.