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Asia-pacific

China deploys extra troops along Tibet border

Latest update : 2009-03-09

China has ramped up its military presence along the Tibetan border ahead of Tursday's 50th anniversary of a failed anti-Chinese uprising that forced the Dalai Lama into exile. There have been protests against Chinese rule in recent weeks.

AFP - China said Monday it had deployed extra soldiers along Tibet's international border as part of ramped-up security measures ahead of the 50th anniversary of a failed anti-Chinese uprising.
   
Residents in the Himalayan region's capital, Lhasa, also reported seeing armed security forces patrolling the city, as tensions rose ahead of Tuesday's anniversary of the 1959 revolt that forced the Dalai Lama into exile.
   
Protests against Chinese rule have flared in recent weeks despite a security crackdown, including one Buddhist monk who doused himself with petrol and set himself alight while holding an image of the Dalai Lama.
   
Chinese state media also reported a protest involving dozens of people in Golog, a Tibetan-populated region of northwest China, on Sunday that was triggered when police stopped a local resident for an identity check.
   
On Monday a police car and a firetruck in Golog were hit with handmade explosives but no one was killed, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
   
The Xinhua report did not specifically identify the protesters as Tibetans, and local authorities were unavailable for comment.
   
However, Chinese authorities made it clear they were bracing for potential widespread unrest for Tuesday's anniversary, following deadly riots that swept across the Tibetan plateau 12 months ago.
   
"To protect stability in Tibet, we have deployed military troops to strengthen controls at entry points and on key roads along Tibet's (international) border," said Fu Hongyu, a top border control official.
   
"We will go all-out to maintain security and stability," Fu said in comments carried by Xinhua.
   
China has previously warned that exiled groups may seek to destabilise Tibet from across the border in Nepal or India.
   
Residents in Lhasa reported an increased security presence on Monday and said citizens were ordered to carry identification at all times.
   
"There are policemen patrolling the streets 24 hours, carrying guns," a staff member at a hotel in the city told AFP by phone.
   
"You can go out but you need to take your identification with you, in case the police stop you."
   
The man's identity was withheld by AFP to protect him from possible police reprisals.
   
However, residents said there had been no curfew imposed and there were no signs of any unrest.
   
The 1959 uprising came nine years after communist Chinese troops moved into Tibet to "liberate" it from serfdom, but many Tibetans say this was an invasion and the start of widespread repression under Chinese rule.
   
Tibet's government in exile says tens of thousands of Tibetans were "slaughtered" following the uprising, with more than 87,000 people dying between March and October of 1959 alone.
   
Tibet's exiled government says at least 200 more people died when Chinese security forces clamped down following last year's protests that marked the 49th anniversary.
   
But China denies this and says "rioters" were responsible for 21 deaths.
   
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, who remains a revered figure for Tibetans, has warned in recent days that Chinese authorities are stepping up their repression, but urged his followers to follow his path of non-violence.
   
Across Tibet and the neighbouring western areas of China with Tibetan populations where last year's unrest occurred, authorities have increased security in recent weeks.
   
Tibet activist groups have described the situation as de facto martial law.
   
Foreign reporters remain barred from travelling to Tibet independently, and have been turned back from visiting other sensitive Tibetan areas of western China.
   
Xinhua said the incident in Golog, Qinghai province, occurred after police stopped a local timber truck on Sunday afternoon for a routine check.
   
A quarrel between the truck's occupants and police broke out, drawing in dozens of local residents, it said.
   
The police car and fire engine were then attacked with small explosives early Monday morning.
 

Date created : 2009-03-09

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