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China says Tibet ‘stable’

February 12, 2009

From The AFP

China said Thursday that Tibet was “stable”, a day after the Dalai Lama warned the Himalayan region could see another uprising as the one-year anniversary of anti-Chinese riots there approaches.

However, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman declined to give a timeframe for when China would lift a de facto ban on foreign reporters travelling to Tibet on their own to assess the security situation.

“At present the situation in Tibet is stable,” spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters, declining to go into specifics.

She had been asked for Beijing’s response to the Tibetan spiritual leader’s warning on Wednesday during a visit to Germany.

The Dalai Lama called the situation in his homeland “very tense” amid smouldering anger over what he described as a continuing heavy-handed Chinese crackdown following last year’s unrest.

“At any moment there can be an outburst of violence,” the 73-year-old monk said in the town of Baden Baden.

Anti-China unrest erupted in the regional capital Lhasa last March and spread to Tibetan-populated regions in adjacent provinces.

Tibet’s government-in-exile said more than 200 Tibetans were killed and about 1,000 hurt in the subsequent Chinese crackdown.

China has reported killing one Tibetan “insurgent” and says “rioters” were responsible for 21 deaths.

Next month will also be sensitive because it will see the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

China is conducting a rare and tightly controlled tour of Tibet for some foreign reporters this week, but it and vast areas of neighbouring provinces that saw violence last year remain closed off to foreign journalists.

The current tour has excluded several major international news organisations, including AFP.

Jiang declined to give an answer when asked when foreign reporters might be allowed to report from Tibet.

“It is true that it is now harder for some journalists to go to Tibet. But this is not caused by us and is not a situation we would like to see,” she said.

Chinese troops entered the devoutly Buddhist region in 1950 to “liberate” it from feudal rule, according to Beijing, but Chinese control there remains widely unpopular.

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