China official paper: crush protesters

'We must see through the secessionist forces' evil intentions, uphold the banner of maintaining social stability ... and resolutely crush the 'Tibet independence' forces' conspiracy," the People's Daily said.

China official paper: crush protesters

The communist government's leading newspaper called Saturday to "resolutely crush" Tibetan demonstrations against Chinese rule.

The statement came as international criticism against the crackdown on Tibetan protesters swelled.

A senior EU official said European countries should not rule out threatening China with an Olympic boycott if violence continues in Tibet. Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also joined the growing chorus of critics.

Fighting back against the criticism, Beijing has begun releasing tallies of statements of support from foreign governments and trying to get its version of events before the international community.

"It is a clear proof that the international community is on the side of China," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, which reported that 100 governments have endorsed China's handling of the protests.

China's government has portrayed the protests as having been instigated by supporters of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

'RESOLUTELY CRUSH THE TIBET INDEPENDENCE FORCES'

"We must see through the secessionist forces' evil intentions, uphold the banner of maintaining social stability ... and resolutely crush the 'Tibet independence' forces' conspiracy," the People's Daily said in an editorial.

The protests, which started in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on the March 10 anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, turned violent four days later and touched off demonstrations among Tibetans in three other provinces.

The movement has become the largest challenge to China's control of Tibet since the 1959 uprising. It also has threatened Beijing's attempts to project an image of unity and prosperity ahead of the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Beijing has responded by smothering Tibetan areas with troops and publishing a "Most Wanted" list of 21 protesters, appealing to people to turn them in.

Beijing's official death toll from last week's rioting in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa rose to 22, with the Xinhua News Agency reporting that five more civilians and a police officer died. The Tibetan government-in-exile has said 99 Tibetans have been killed — 80 in Lhasa and 19 in Gansu province.

'CRACKDOWN IS NOT CORRECT'

Visiting Paris on Friday, McCain said China's crackdown "is not correct" and expressed hope Beijing would seek a peaceful resolution.

"The people there are being subjected to mistreatment that is not acceptable with the conduct of a world power, which China is," McCain said in response to a question by a Chinese reporter.

"There must be respect for human rights, and I would hope that the Chinese are actively seeking a peaceful resolution to this situation that exists which harms not only the human rights of the people there but also the image of China in the world," said McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The White House said Thursday the crackdown is not cause for President Bush to cancel his attendance at the Olympics. But it requested access to the region to see how Chinese police were dealing with detained protesters.

The president of the European Parliament said in remarks released Saturday that European countries should not rule out threatening China with an Olympic boycott if violence continues in Tibet.

"Beijing must decide itself, it should immediately negotiate with the Dalai Lama," Hans-Gert Poettering was quoted as saying by Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "If there continue to be no signals of compromise, I see boycott measures as justified."

On Friday, Bild quoted German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier as saying he had warned China its response to the crisis in Tibet may jeopardize the Summer Olympics. Frank criticized the Chinese government's lack of transparency in the ongoing conflict.

'NO BOYCOTT TO CHINA'

However, the European Union said Thursday a boycott would be counterproductive to efforts to improve human rights in China.

On Friday, Pelosi lent her support to the Tibetan cause on a visit to the Dalai Lama at his headquarters in India, calling China's crackdown "a challenge to the conscience of the world."

Pelosi, long a fierce critic of China, called for an international investigation and dismissed Beijing's claim that the Dalai Lama was behind the fighting as making "no sense." The Dalai Lama, who received the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, says he does not seek independence but wants genuine autonomy to protect Tibet's unique Buddhist culture.

Without mentioning Pelosi by name, the foreign ministry spokesman Qin said China opposes "any encouragement and support for the secessionist schemes of the Dalai clique."

IN LHASA SHOPS OPENED

In Lhasa, shops reopened but the police presence was heavy, said residents reached by phone. The Potala Palace, the traditional seat of Tibetan rulers, and the Jokang Temple, a popular site for tourists and Buddhist pilgrims, were still closed.

"There are People's Armed Police patrolling the streets around the clock," said an employee of the Shambala Hotel, who refused to give her name due to fear of reprisal.

On Friday, authorities intensified a manhunt for people accused of violence, posting their photos — taken from video cameras and security footage — on major Internet portals.

The 21 people are accused of endangering national security, and cited for beating, smashing, looting and arson. One suspect was shown wielding a long sword and another was a mustached man who had been shown on news programs slashing another with a foot-long blade.

21 SUSPECTS ARRESTED

Xinhua said two of the 21 suspects were arrested and a third turned himself in. Authorities offered rewards for information and promised anonymity to tipsters.

Police have arrested 24 people and another 183 turned themselves in, Xinhua said.

Outside of Lhasa, Beijing has deployed troops across a wide swath of western China where more than half of China's 5.4 million Tibetans live. Moving from town to town, police set up blockades and checkpoints to keep Tibetans in and journalists out.

The mobilization was helping authorities reassert control after demonstrations flared in Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces, inspired by monks in Lhasa last week.

State television, in its first footage of the confrontation between protesters and police last Sunday in the Tibetan town of Aba, showed dozens of crimson-robed monks charging at a line of police standing behind plastic riot shields. Crowds of ordinary people hurled rocks and one threw a molotov cocktail as cars burned in the town ringed by snow-peaked mountains.

Xinhua said earlier that police opened fire on the crowd, wounding four and that protesters tried to break into the police armory to steal weapons. Tibet support groups say police killed at least eight and posted photos of bloody corpses on the Internet.

AP
Last Mod: 22 Mart 2008, 19:37
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