An update on Tibet

Tibetan monk cries as he talks to journalistsAs protests for Tibetan autonomy continued into the third week, China further stepped up its crackdown within Tibetan and Chinese provinces. According to Reuters, China sought to contain ongoing protests in its ethnic Tibetan regions, as it stepped up detentions in Tibet’s capital Lhasa and vowed tighter control over monasteries. The western province of Qinghai was the latest area to report anti-government activities, with hundreds of civilians staging a sit-down protest after paramilitary police stopped them from marching.

The Chinese government and some of its citizens also took steps to defuse its escalating public relations problem. Yesterday China allowed foreign journalists into Tibet for a short, supervised tour of Lhasa, The Associated Press reports. It was unclear how much freedom to report the small group of foreign journalists would have during the Chinese government-arranged two-day trip.

Angry Chinese nationalists are using the Internet to denounce Western media coverage of Tibetan unrest, amid a campaign by the Beijing government to discredit what it says are biased foreign reports, according to the AFP. Despite its attempts to sway world opinion, The Sidney Morning Herald reports that China is still refusing to allow foreign diplomats into Tibet. Australian embassy officials in Beijing made a written request to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Thursday asking to visit Tibet, but were turned down after China issued a blanket denial to all requests for foreign visits due to “safety concerns”.

Meanwhile, support for Tibetan people continued outside of Tibet. The International Herald Tribune reports that some 60 Tibetan exiles protested outside the United Nations office in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Wednesday, calling for an international investigation into China’s crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet. World leaders and public figures such as George Bush, Desmond Tutu, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner condemned China’s actions in Tibet.

Controversy over the upcoming summer Olympic Games in Beijing also continued, according to Democracy Now. Human rights demonstrators breached tight security and tried to hijack the Beijing Olympic torch lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia, Greece on Monday, while the president of the International Olympic Committee, defended the decision to hold the summer games in China.

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