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 Corrupt China Orders Post-Riot Propaganda Drive

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Corrupt China Orders Post-Riot Propaganda Drive Vide
PostSubject: Corrupt China Orders Post-Riot Propaganda Drive   Corrupt China Orders Post-Riot Propaganda Drive Icon_minitimeThu Apr 03, 2008 4:55 am

BEIJING (AP) — China has ordered ramped-up propaganda and ideological education in Tibet to build anti-separatist sentiment and to vilify the Dalai Lama after last month's protests, an official newspaper said Thursday.

The region's hardline Communist Party leader also ordered harsh punishment for local party officials found lacking in their commitment to Beijing's official line, following the sometimes violent anti-government protests and the harsh crackdown that followed.

China has accused the 72-year-old Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader who is based in India, of orchestrating the violence to sabotage the Beijing Summer Olympic Games and create an independent state.

The Dalai Lama has denied the charges, calling on Beijing to open a dialogue and examine the economic, ethnic and religious issues he blames for fueling anger among Tibetans.

The Tibet Daily newspaper quoted regional party chief Zhang Qingli as ordering officials to maintain their guard against future plots by the "Dalai clique."

Zhang ordered officials to boost ideological education among young people, focusing on negative portrayals of Tibet prior to the communist invasion in 1950 and continued vilification of the Dalai Lama's political agenda.

"Unceasingly build up the foundation of the masses to oppose separatism," Zhang was quoted as saying.

While China has repeatedly claimed overwhelming support for its policies in Tibet, it has had to bolster those with repeated ideological campaigns and heightened restrictions over religious observance and monastic life.

Already, officials including the national police chief have ordered boosted "patriotic campaigns" in monasteries whose monks led protests that began peacefully on March 10 before turning deadly four days later.

In an even more revealing statement, Zhang appeared to indicate at least some local officials had shown themselves as insufficiently loyal during the recent unrest.

"We absolutely will not condone violations of political and organizational discipline and will definitely find those responsible and meet out harsh punishment," said Zhang, a protege of president and party chief Hu Jintao, who was the communist boss of Tibet during the last major protests there in 1989.

Formerly a top official in another ethnically troubled region, Xinjiang, Zhang has reportedly already overseen the firing of dozens of ethnically Tibetan officials seen as politically unreliable.

Tibet will reopen to foreign tourist groups on May 1 following a six-week closure due to the riots, the regional tourism authority said Thursday.

Many Tibetans insist they were an independent nation before communist troops invaded in 1950, while radical Islamic groups in Xinjiang have battled Chinese rule through a low-intensity campaign of bombings and assassination.

Critics say Zhang's twin policies of massive government investment and intense political repression in both regions may have helped breed resentment among their native populations, many among whom feel left behind by economic growth and marginalized by the arrival of migrants from China's majority Han ethnic group.

Unrest was also reported last month among Xinjiang's Muslim Turkic Uighur minority, creating new problems for Beijing as it tries to contain demonstrations while fending off criticism of its treatment of minorities ahead of this summer's Beijing Olympics.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Beijing since the deadly March 14 anti-government riot in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, said he appealed to Chinese leaders to engage their critics.

"I expressed our concerns about the violence and urged a peaceful resolution through dialogue," Paulson said on Wednesday.

China's official Xinhua News Agency said Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told Paulson to "see clearly the true nature of the Dalai clique," and "understand and support the just position of the Chinese government and people."

The reports of the Xinjiang unrest described disturbances last month at a bazaar in Hotan, a city in the Muslim Uighur minority's cultural heartland.

A local government statement said a "tiny number of people" tried to create an incident on March 23 "under the flag of separatism."

"These people are splittists responding to the Tibetan riots," said Fu Chao, a local government spokesman. He said dozens were arrested, but only the "core splittists" remained in custody.

U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia and an overseas Uighur activist said earlier that the demonstrators were demanding the right for Uighur women to wear head scarves and the release of political prisoners.

Uighurs, pronounced "Wee-gers," are a Central Asian people related to Turks whose language, customs and religion are distinct from those of most Chinese.

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