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March 20, 2008
Crackdown increases in Tibet
Hundreds of Chinese troops fanned out over the Tibetan capitol of Llahsa in a show of force designed to intimidate demonstrators who have been protesting the Chinese occupation:
Government officials acknowledged for the first time that protests against Chinese rule of Tibet have spread to Tibetan communities in other provinces after sweeping through Lhasa last week. It is one of the broadest challenges to Chinese rule in years. According to the Tibetan government in exile, thousands of citizens have been rounded up and put in jail by the Chinese.
Hundreds of paramilitary police aboard at least 80 trucks traveled along the main road winding through the mountains into southeastern Tibet. Others set up camp and patrolled in riot gear, helmets and, for a few, rifles in the area above Tiger Leaping Gorge, a tourist attraction that usually sees little unrest.
Such scenes were repeated across far-flung towns and villages in Tibetan areas of adjacent provinces to reassert control as sporadic demonstrations continued to flare. Foreigners were barred from traveling there and tour groups were banned from Tibet, isolating a region about four times the size of France.
The protests started peacefully in Lhasa early last week, but erupted into deadly riots on Friday, drawing a harsh response from Chinese authorities. China's crackdown has attracted even more scrutiny of its human rights record in the run-up to the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Meanwhile, it doesn't appear that there will be much enthusiasm for a boycott of the Olympic games by western nations. President Bush all but ruled out a boycott by the US yesterday. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner did find the idea of a boycott by world leaders of the opening ceremony "interesting" but stopped short of endorsing the idea.