Chinese Crackdown Seals Off Ethnic Unrest

Following large-scale unrest and subsequent reports of police shooting protesters in Tibetan areas of western Sichuan, authorities are cracking down in the region, including in Chengdu, 200 miles away from the violence. The New York Times reports:

Faced with the largest outbreak of Tibetan unrest since riots in Lhasa and elsewhere in 2008, the government is taking no chances that the turmoil — which has included Chinese forces firing on and killing some demonstrators — will spread.

Armed soldiers in dun-colored camouflage trooped up and down Wuhouci Hengjie, a tree-shaded lane that is home to two government offices. Police cars, vans and even tow trucks, their red-and-blue light bars flashing, were stationed every 50 to 100 yards. Bands of police officers patrolled the sidewalks; on one corner, they upbraided an angry Tibetan man as anxious women grabbed his arms, pulling him away.

Asked about the heavy security, one shopkeeper sarcastically suggested the forces were in town to prevent rowdiness during the spring festival, a traditional Chinese holiday.

He added quietly: “I don’t dare talk. The police came to my shop and told me not to spread the word.”

While authorities have acknowledged at least one death in the violence, without providing details of who killed whom, they are launching a media campaign to blast “distortions” by the Dalai Lama and his Western supporters. From China Daily:

The clashes caused at least one death and others, including policemen, were injured.

As usual, Western government officials and the self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile spared no effort in taking the opportunity to criticize the Chinese central government.

The London-based Free Tibet advocacy group claimed that police opened fire on Tibetans peacefully protesting against religious repression in the southwestern province of Sichuan, killing at least one and injuring more than 30.

This was refuted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which said the true cause of the clash was a mob intent on storming stores and the police station.

“Overseas forces promoting ‘independence for Tibet’ have always fabricated rumors and distorted the truth to discredit the Chinese government with issues involving Tibet,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

Meanwhile, political cartoonists in China have taken up the story with some hard-hitting images about the current situation. From Rebel Pepper (变态辣椒):

And from Hexie Farm:

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