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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's Campaign May Have Set Off New Burst of Unrest

April 9, 2008

By JASON LEOW and JAMES T. AREDDY
The Wall Street Journal
April 7, 2008; Page A6

China's government appears to be stepping up a political-education
campaign directed at Tibetans, a policy that may have sparked a new
outburst of violence in the already tense situation in western China.

China's ruling Communist Party has issued a circular in recent days to
party members and government officials in Tibetan areas instructing them
"to play an active role in maintaining social stability with more
loyalty," the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday. On
Saturday, authorities vowed through state media outlets to step up such
efforts.

Overseas Tibetan groups said the campaign also involved requiring
Buddhist monks to renounce their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and
relinquish photos of him that many of them possess -- a push that may
have sparked a new clash with authorities last week. The violence, which
occurred Thursday in the southwestern province of Sichuan, was one of
the biggest and most violent since the Lhasa riots began March 14 --
although the government and Tibetan groups offer differing accounts on
what happened.

In their account of last Thursday's clash, overseas Tibetan and
human-rights groups said as many as eight ethnic Tibetans, including one
monk, were shot and killed near the Tongkhor monastery in Sichuan
province's Ganzi county, following protests at authorities' efforts to
step up "patriotic education" that required monks to denounce the Dalai
Lama. News of a riot in Ganzi -- but not those deaths -- was reported by
Xinhua, which said the police fired warning shots and that a government
official was among those injured.

Neither account could be independently verified as telephones in the
area, known as Garze in Tibetan, were either cut off or went unanswered.

China's political-education campaigns tend to emphasize the supremacy of
Communist Party doctrine over religious beliefs like the tenets of
Tibetan Buddhism. For many Tibetan Buddhists, the government's emphasis
on political thought above religious and philosophical beliefs, and its
forced denunciations of the Dalai Lama, are the core reason they
distrust Beijing's overall intentions, and why they play down the value
of such factors as increased central-government investment in Tibet.

Now, as it often does in the wake of challenges to its authority,
Beijing appears to be reinvigorating its political-education efforts in
Tibet and surrounding areas. In recent years, economic incentives have
generally been the government's key tool for building Chinese national
loyalty throughout Tibetan areas.

In a written statement Sunday, the Dalai Lama reiterated his appeal to
Tibetans to avoid violence and said they shouldn't disrupt the coming
Olympic Games.

The Dalai Lama also noted how Tibetans are often Communist Party members
by referring to "Tibetan government employees and Communist Party cadres
who have, without losing their Tibetan identity, shown grit and sense of
what is right during the present crisis." He requested that in the
future they report "the real sentiments of the Tibetan people to their
superiors in the Party."

"In the near future [in Tibet]...there will be a lot of study sessions,
a lot of propaganda and discussions," said Cheng Li, a Chinese-politics
expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

In another change, a top ethnic-Tibetan official, Danzeng Langjie, was
removed from his post in charge of minority and religious affairs,
according to the Web site of the state-run Tibet Daily. Some Tibet
experts said Beijing aims to stifle internal party dissent about Tibet
policy and is, in particular, squelching liberal voices.

The changes come even as Beijing has left open the possibility of
reopening talks with the Dalai Lama, according to Brandon Dotson, a
Tibetan specialist at London's School of Oriental and African Studies.
"The hard-line rhetoric in fact strengthens China's position in the
event of any opening of negotiations with the Dalai Lama," he said.

In Ganzi, days of political campaigns at the Tongkhor monastery,
including a hunt for photos of the Dalai Lama, may have helped spark
last week's trouble, according to the London-based International
Campaign for Tibet and other pro-Tibet groups. "The Chinese officials
told monks that they should denounce the Dalai Lama and oppose the
ongoing demonstrations against Chinese rule, and the monks objected,"
the International Campaign for Tibet said.

Anne Holmes, acting director of the London-based Free Tibet Campaign,
another group, said a monk who was present at the monastery told her
group that on April 3 around 3,000 military police surrounded the
350-year-old monastery and searched it. Two monks were arrested for
having pictures of the Dalai Lama, while other monks were instructed to
also denounce recent agitation in Tibetan areas, and the witness told
her group that Tongkhor's chief monk, Lobsang Jamyang, said he would
rather die than undergo the education, Ms. Holmes said.

In the early evening, hundreds of monks and other Tibetans marched on
the town center and shots were eventually fired on the crowd, according
to the overseas Tibetan organizations, which said they had sources at
the scene. "What's happened in the aftermath of the crushing of peaceful
protests is that [the monks] have reached the end of their tethers," Ms.
Holmes said.

The Xinhua report on Friday quoted an unnamed official with the
prefecture government as saying "local officials exercised restraint
during the riot and repeatedly told the rioters to abide by the law."
The official said that since rioters refused to stop, "police were
forced to fire warning shots to put down the violence, since local
officials and people were in great danger." It said an official was
attacked and seriously injured, while local authorities are
investigating the incident.

The report also described a previously unreported earlier incident in
Ganzi county, on March 24, in which it said an attack on police officers
by Tibetans armed with knives and stones left one person dead and
several injured.

Write to Jason Leow at jason.leow@wsj.com1 and James T. Areddy at
james.areddy@wsj.com2
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