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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 to stage Tibet 'coverage'

March 26, 2008

AFP
March 25, 2008

Beijing - China said on Tuesday it would escort foreign media to the
Tibetan capital Lhasa this week but indicated that journalists would be
restricted to seeing only Beijing's version of deadly recent unrest there.

"We have organised a trip for more than 10 foreign journalists to
understand the incidents there," foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang
told reporters, adding that the media delegation would depart on Wednesday.

"The organisers will arrange interviews with victims of the criminal
acts and also visits to those places that were looted or burned," he
said, when asked whether the reporters would be allowed to report freely.

Beijing says the deadly rioting that began in Lhasa and spread to
Tibetan-populated areas elsewhere in China was orchestrated by the
exiled Dalai Lama rather than an expression of popular anger at
Beijing's heavy-handed rule.

It has also maintained that security forces have used minimal force in
putting down the unrest.

However, China has effectively barred travel to the restive regions,
preventing foreign media from investigating and confirming its claims,
while excoriating foreign media for non-objective reporting.

The reporting trip, described by participating media as a three-day
visit, would involve only a handful of media organisations, not
including AFP or some other major news agencies.

Qin said logistical issues constrained the number of journalists allowed
on the visit.

"I believe that through this visit, the press can enhance its
understanding of the true nature of the incidents in Lhasa," he said,
adding that further trips might be arranged later.

China's foreign correspondents association criticised the trip as
insufficient.

"Our request is unrestricted media access to Tibet. Clearly this trip is
better than nothing but it is far from satisfying our request," Melinda
Liu, president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, said.

She added that the continued reporting restrictions violate rules
introduced last year to free up the activities of foreign reporters in
an Olympics-related gesture of openness.

"Clearly this is not only not in keeping with the spirit of the
guidelines, but it falls far short of what the international community
expects from an Olympic host nation," said Liu, Newsweek magazine's
Beijing bureau chief.

Free-Tibet activists say the unrest was triggered when police moved in
to disperse a peaceful march on March 10 by Tibetan Buddhist monks
marking the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising.

However, China's state media has made virtually no mention of those
events, instead launching a relentless campaign to depict the rioting as
the actions of a few "criminal" malcontents.

China moved in to "liberate" Tibet in 1950, formally annexing the region
the following year. It drove the Dalai Lama into exile eight years later
with the crushing of the Tibetan uprising.

Pro-Tibet groups say China is effectively extinguishing the region's
unique culture through repression and a policy of officially encouraging
immigration by ethnic Chinese.
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