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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."

China Orders 'Study Sessions' in Tibet

April 5, 2008

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN
April 4, 2008

BEIJING (AP) — China's ruling Communist Party is ordering officials in
Tibetan areas into political study sessions, a report said Friday, the
firmest sign yet that China is using loyalty tests in areas where recent
anti-government protests erupted.

The recently issued order emphasizes the need for officials to oppose
Tibetan separatism, highlighting that Beijing was caught off-guard by
last month's protests, the most widespread demonstrations against
Chinese rule in nearly 50 years.

"The numerous party members and grass-roots officials must further
launch education in opposing separatism and preserving the unity of the
motherland," the state-run Xinhua News Agency said, citing a notice from
the party's powerful Organization Department, which oversees personnel
issues.

The notice offers a glimpse into the ways the government is dealing with
the unrest, which on several occasions turned into violent riots.

Although the government has said that more than 1,280 people have been
taken into custody in Lhasa — the site of the worst rioting — and
accuses the exiled Dalai Lama and his supporters of fomenting the
unrest, Beijing is also trying to ensure that local officials, many of
whom are Tibetan, follow party orders.

Earlier this week, authorities said they plan to put rioters on trial
and reopen Tibet to tourism by May — a tight timetable that would allow
the government to put the issue behind it ahead of this August's Beijing
Olympics. State television on Thursday showed Chinese tourists returning
to Lhasa in an attempt to show that the city was gradually returning to
normal.

Both Tibet and Tibetan communities in three neighboring provinces where
the demonstrations spread remain largely closed to foreign journalists,
however. Outside of Tibet, police turned away foreign reporters at
roadblocks leading into Tibetan areas, saying that while the areas were
not formally closed they were unsafe for free travel.

In Washington, the Dalai Lama's special envoy told U.S. lawmakers that
China must bear full responsibility for recent violence and suffering in
Tibet and said his homeland is being "brutally occupied."

"The situation today is grim," Lodi Gyari said at a Congressional Human
Rights Caucus briefing.

Communist troops marched into Tibet in 1950 and Beijing strengthened its
hold on the region after the Dalai Lama fled in a failed uprising
against Chinese rule in 1959. Though the current unrest has not
threatened Beijing's grip on the strategically important region,
questions about the loyalty of local officials underscore Beijing's
concerns about control.

Earlier this week, Tibet's hardline party chief, Zhang Qingli, indicated
that some local officials showed themselves insufficiently loyal during
the unrest. Since assuming the post in 2005, Zhang has ordered officials
to stop attending religious events and festivals and has reportedly
presided over the firing of many ethnic Tibetan officials.

The Organization Department notice appears to reinforce Zhang's campaign
and apply to all Tibetan areas, not just Tibet itself. It called on
officials to see "the recent violent criminal incidents that were
plotted and instigated by the Dalai clique in Tibet and certain Tibetan
areas as important education materials."

"Opposition to separatism and preserving social stability is an
important mission for the building of all grass-roots party
organizations in Tibet and other Tibetan areas," Xinhua cited the
circular as saying.
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