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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

China admits Tibet monk protests

March 14, 2008

13 March 2008

Chinese officials have acknowledged that Buddhist monks were
protesting in the Tibetan city of Lhasa this week.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the authorities had
"stabilised" the situation.

Unconfirmed reports earlier this week said as many as 600 monks had
taken part in rallies, and that police used tear gas to disperse them.

Rights groups said the demonstrations were the biggest display of
opposition to Chinese rule in Tibet since 1989.

US-based Radio Free Asia reported on Tuesday that dozens of monks had
been detained as the authorities sought to crack down on dissent.

However, little information emerged from Tibet and the authorities
remained tight-lipped until Thursday, when Mr Qin confirmed that a
series of rallies had taken place.

"In the past couple of days, a few monks in Lhasa have made some
disturbances in an effort to cause unrest," news agency AFP quoted him
as saying.

"Thanks to the efforts of the local government and the democratic
administration of the temples, the situation in Lhasa has been

Everest closure

Radio Free Asia reported that a number of monks were arrested on
Monday after a march marking the 49th anniversary of a Tibetan
uprising against Chinese rule.

The radio station, which is funded by the US government, said hundreds
of monks took to the streets the following day to demand the release
of their fellow monks - and were dispersed by tear gas.

Campaigners based outside China say protesters in Lhasa are being
spurred on by rallies in other Chinese provinces and in India.

"Tibetans inside Tibet are aware that Tibetans in India are marching
towards the Tibet border," said Matt Whitticase from the UK-based Free
Tibet Campaign.

He said protesters in Lhasa had been "emboldened" by the support they
were receiving from across the world.

A surge in Tibetan activism could become a security headache for China
in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, correspondents say.

This week the Chinese leadership closed the north face of Mount
Everest until after the Olympic Flame ascends in May, for fear that
activists might use it to stage photogenic Tibet-related protests.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Tibet, but many Tibetans remain loyal
to their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who fled in 1959 and
currently lives in exile in India.
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