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China cancels official Czech visit in Tibet flag row

April 6, 2008

PRAGUE: 5 Apr 2008 (AFP) - China cancelled a visit by Czech education
officials because Prague's government ministry raised a Tibetan flag in
one of its windows, Chinese authorities said in a statement released here.

"The displaying of the so-called Tibetan flag signifies direct support
for the independence of Tibet," said the statement from the Chinese
education ministry, released by China's embassy in Prague on Friday.

"We cannot accept it and that is why we have cancelled this visit."

The delegation to Beijing was to have been led by a vice-minister and
included the heads of three top colleges, with the aim of signing a
cooperation agreement including a bilateral student exchange programme.

Communist China has ruled Tibet since 1951, after sending in troops to
"liberate" the Buddhist region the previous year, and insists it is part
of China despite Tibetan calls for independence.

Reacting to the Chinese announcement, Czech education minister Ondrej
Liska cited the issue of human rights in China. His comments came after
reports of violence involving police and protestors in Tibetan-populated
regions.

"China's reaction is evidence that our criticism regarding human rights
has not gone unnoticed," Liska said.

He added that he was sure the bilateral agreement would eventually be
signed. "It is also in China's interest."
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