Foreign Journalists Allowed in Tibet

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CBNNews.com - China on Wednesday allowed the first group of foreign journalists to visit the regional capital Lhasa since the violence in Tibet began.

Widespread protests have embarrassed the Chinese government ahead of this summer's Beijing Olympics, leading it to send troops to Tibet and ban foreign journalists.

Lifting the ban for the small group of foreign journalists appears calculated to show that authorities are in control of the situation.

It was unclear how much freedom to report the journalists would have during the arranged two-day trip.

The visit comes amid rising international pressure over China's crackdown in Tibet less than five months ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

The protests took a violent turn on March 14, when rioters set hundreds of fires in Lhasa and attacked ethnic Chinese.

The uprising was the broadest and most sustained against Chinese rule in almost two decades, embarrassing and frustrating the communist leadership.

Thousands of troops and police have been deployed to contain the unrest.

The government says at least 22 people have died in Lhasa; Tibetan rights groups say nearly 140 Tibetans were killed, including 19 in Gansu province.

Authorities had pledged harsh punishment for those participating in the violence. The Tibet Daily quoted the national police chief as saying monks would be subjected to "patriotic education" classes and he accused the protesters of violating Buddhist tenants.

In such classes, monks are forced to denounce their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who remains widely revered despite Beijing's vilification, and declare their loyalty to the communist government.

China's communist troops entered Tibet in 1950, and the country claims to have the Himalayan region for seven centuries.

Many Tibetans say they were effectively an independent nation for most of that time.

Source: The Associated Press

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