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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China Admits It Needs to Improve Regional Autonomy

February 13, 2009

By Alison Klayman, VOA
12 February 2009

China says it is going to work on improving regional autonomy, a rare
acknowledgment that its protection of minority group interests still
needs work.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters Thursday
that China will continue to, in her words, "improve the system of
regional national autonomy."

Jiang says China will take various measures to safeguard the
"fundamental issues" of all ethnic groups.

Her comments came in response to questions about the Dalai Lama's
travels in Europe, this week. Tibet's exiled spiritual leader traveled
to Italy and Germany for four days, to receive several awards.

In Italy, the City Council of Rome and Venice gave the Dalai Lama
honorary citizenship for his work towards a peaceful resolution of the
Tibetan issue.

In Baden Baden, Germany, the Dalai Lama accepted the German Media prize.
A 20-member jury selected him for the award on behalf of the German
audience research company, Media Control.

The Dalai Lama told German business and media figures attending the
ceremony that Tibetans are not trying to break away from China. He says
he is only seeking to ensure religious and cultural autonomy for
Tibetans, not independence.

Meanwhile, China continues to insist the 73-year-old Nobel Peace Prize
winner has a separatist agenda. Spokeswoman Jiang says that Tibet was
never an independent state and has enjoyed remarkable changes in the
last half century, including an end to feudal serfdom.

Jiang says this year marks 50 years of Tibet's democratic reform.

The beginning of March is also the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama
fleeing Tibet and a failed uprising against Chinese rule. The Chinese
government last month announced this anniversary will be commemorated as
"Serf Liberation Day."

Last March, protests by monks in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, led to violent
riots and general unrest in the region. Foreign reporters are not
allowed into Tibet without official permission. Since the riots, the
Chinese government has taken a few small groups of journalists on
government-supervised reporting trips.
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