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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Defiant China rejects dialogue, vows to smash Tibetan protests

March 23, 2008

BEIJING March 22, 2008 (AFP) — China turned its back Saturday on appeals
for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, vowing to smash anti-China forces in
Tibet, where it said the death toll in recent unrest had risen to 19.

A day after Beijing launched a manhunt for monks and others it blamed
for unrest in Tibet, an editorial in the People's Daily, mouthpiece of
the Chinese Communist party, said opposition to Chinese rule in the
Himalayan region must be wiped out.

"China must resolutely crush the conspiracy of sabotage and smash 'Tibet
independence forces'," the newspaper said in the editorial, rejecting
calls from US, European and Asian leaders for talks.

The commentary accused the Dalai Lama of masterminding protests in Tibet
in the hope of undermining the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics and gaining
Tibet independence from Beijing.

It said, "1.3 billion Chinese people, including the Tibetan people,
would allow no person or force to undermine the stability of the region."

The commentary effectively rebuffed growing international calls for
dialogue to end the crackdown on protests that began last week to mark
the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Beijing's rule of Tibet.

Earlier Saturday, China said 18 "innocent" civilians and one police
officer were killed in rioting in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, raising
its official death toll from 13.

Tibet's government-in-exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala has
put the toll from a week of unrest across the Himalayan region and
neighbouring provinces at 99.

On Friday, leaders in Japan and Poland joined an international appeal
for restraint and dialogue.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said China should talk to the Dalai
Lama, as it prepared to host the Olympic Games.

"The opening of peaceful dialogue now would have a symbolic dimension,
especially in the context of the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing,"
said Kaczynski.

The Olympics is less than five months away and the symbolic start to
events leading up to the Beijing Games is scheduled to take place in
Greece on Monday when the Olympic flame is ignited.

The so-called sacred Olympic flame is to be lit in a 30-minute ritual at
the site of ancient Olympia in Greece in the presence of International
Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, whose organisation has been
sharply criticised for its silence on the Tibet crackdown.

Greek police told AFP that "stringent security" would be applied to
deter anti-China protests during the ceremony.

After a tour of Greece, the flame will travel to Beijing for an official
send-off ceremony on March 31 for the torch relay on its journey across
five continents.

It then returns to China in May and the start of a domestic leg that
includes three days in Tibet in mid-June after a scheduled stop on the
summit of Mount Everest in May.

Pro-Tibet groups have said that they are planning protests along the
international route of the torch relay and also in China.

China insists such protests run counter to the Olympic Charter, which
opposes using the Games for political propaganda.

"Those who plan to hold protests to disrupt the torch relay are
challenging the Olympic Charter and all those who love the Olympic
movement around the world, as well as people who love peace and
friendship," said Beijing Olympic organising committee vice-president
Jiang Xiaoyu.

Protests have already taken place in many parts of the world and
continued Saturday when 600 people took to the streets of Tokyo to
denounce the crackdown.

On Friday protesters in Paris burned Chinese flags while demonstrators
in New Delhi stormed the Chinese embassy.

US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded that China
come clean on repression in Tibet.

"The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world,"
said Pelosi, who was greeted in Dharamshala by thousands of flag-waving
Tibetan exiles as she arrived for talks Friday with Tibet's exiled
spiritual leader.

"What is happening, the world needs to know," she said.

However, China has responded to the protests with a massive clampdown on
the affected areas, and on Friday released a most-wanted list of 19
people caught on film taking part in the Lhasa riots, amid warnings by
activist groups of harsh reprisals.
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