Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Ignoring an international furor that has cast a shadow on the Summer Olympics, China today stepped up its campaign against pro-independence protesters in ethnic Tibetan regions, according to the Reuters international news service. More arrests were reported in Lhasa, Tibet's capital, and China promised increased control over monasteries as unrest spread to the western province of Qinghai. Hundreds of people sat down in protest after security forces blocked a protest march, Reuters said. The Tibet government in exile says 140 people have been killed since Chinese soldiers began firing on protesters who turned violent and rioted. But China, which has banned Western reporters from Tibet and is trying to keep control over the protesters, claims only 19 have died. Several European countries, notably France, have begun to talk about boycotting the Summer Olympics in Beijing this summer if China's crackdown continues. China had hoped to use the Olympics to showcase its arrival as a world economic power. China has blamed the protests on the Dalai Lama, the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader of Tibet, who leads the government-in-exile in India and has been an outspoken proponent of more autonomy for the region.