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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

US official to raise Tibet concerns

April 3, 2008

Al Jazeera
April 2, 2008

The US treasury secretary is expected to raise US concerns over China's
crackdown of Tibetan protests during a visit to China.

Henry Paulson's visit, part of a routine economic exchange between the
two nations, will be the first by a high-level US official to China
since protests erupted in Tibet last month.

Before beginning his two-day trip on Wednesday, Paulson said he will
pass on concerns by George Bush, the US president, as well as discuss
economic issues.

"I'm also going to carry the message from the administration that we
care a lot about what's going on in Tibet, and human rights and Tibet,
and so they will clearly hear that from me," he told the CNBC television
network before leaving the US.

Exiled Tibetan leaders have put the death toll from the Chinese
crackdown at 135-140 people, with another 1,000 injured and many detained.

China says Tibetan rioters killed 18 civilians and two police officers.

Protests began in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on March 10 and escalated
into rioting there four days later.

Claim rejected

Earlier, on Tuesday, the US rejected China's charges that Dalai Lama was
backing suicide attacks, calling him a "man of peace" with whom Beijing
should speak.

Asked if Washington agreed with Beijing's allegations, Tom Casey, the
state department's deputy spokesman, said: "There's absolutely no
indication that he wants to do anything other than have a dialogue with
China to discuss how to deal with some of the serious issues there."

Chinese police on Tuesday said Tibetans were planning suicide attacks as
part of a campaign in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics to push
for independence in their homeland.

"To our knowledge, the next plan of the Tibetan independence forces is
to organise suicide squads to launch violent attacks", said Wu Heping,
Chinese public security ministry spokesman.

"They fear neither bloodshed nor sacrifice".

Wu linked the alleged suicide attack plans, denied by Tibet's
government-in-exile in India, to the Dalai Lama and said explosives had
been found in Buddhist monasteries in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, has repeatedly
denied orchestrating the unrest, spoken out against the protests when
they turned violent, and denied he wants independence for his homeland.

Bush concern

Bush phoned Hu Jintao, his Chinese counterpart, last week to express
concern over the unrest and urge China to reopen talks with the Dalai
Lama, who Chinese authorities blame for orchestrating the unrest.

Bush has resisted calls to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympic
games in August to express dissatisfaction with China's handling of the
Tibetan unrest.

A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday by
Thaddeus McCotter, chairman of the policy committee of Bush's own
Republican party, calling on him not to attend the ceremony.

In addition, 15 legislators from both the Republican and Democratic
parties asked Bush in a letter to "renounce your decision to attend the
Olympics in China and urge the Chinese government to change its policies
and begin to respect international standards of human rights".

Nancy Pelosi, the house speaker, has also urged Bush to boycott the
opening ceremony.

With just over four months until the opening ceremony, Amnesty
International, the London-based human-rights organisation, said in a
report on Tuesday that it was increasingly unlikely the games would
improve rights in China.

It urged the International Olympic Committee and world leaders to speak
out publicly against rights violations.
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