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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 denies Tibet railway hurting Tibetans

February 29, 2008

BEIJING, Feb 28 (Reuters) - China's railway to Tibet has strengthened
government control in the remote region and led to policies that
marginalise ethnic Tibetans, a U.S.-based advocacy group said on

Nearly two years after the world's highest railroad was completed at a
cost of $1.4 billion, the International Campaign for Tibet said it was
accelerating an influx of Han Chinese into the region and threatening
its fragile high-altitude environment.

"Only a re-orientation of economic strategy towards local integration
-- in effect 'Tibetanizing' development -- .... could reverse the
trend of marginalisation and estrangement," the group said in its
report, "Tracking the Steel Dragon".

Such marginalisation was undermining the efforts of China's ruling
Communist Party to maintain stability in the region its troops invaded
in 1950, the report said.

China's Foreign Ministry dismissed the key claims of the report and
praised the Qinghai-Tibet railway for improving exchanges.

"We believe the Qinghai-Tibet railway has played a positive role in
promoting Tibet's economic and social development," spokesman Liu
Jianchao told a news conference, adding it had proved a "huge

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, fled Tibet
in 1959 after a failed uprising and has since lived in exile in India.

But with Beijing hosting the Olympics in August, the status of Tibet
has joined the list of issues that activists say China must address,
such as human rights and its policies towards Sudan and Myanmar. The
Dalai Lama has said Tibet supporters should protest peacefully against
Chinese rule during the Games.

"Tracking the Steel Dragon" cited Tibet scholars as saying that
despite years of Chinese diatribes against the Dalai Lama, a new
generation of young Tibetans was increasingly exchanging views in
cyberspace on sensitive issues. Chinese officials have also warned of
an increase in activity by his supporters.

The report called for an overhaul of Chinese policies in Tibet,
advocating preferential treatment for Tibetans in education and
training opportunities, and locally oriented development of services
and industries.

"We are urging governments to call for a proactive, affirmative and
preferential policy towards Tibetans, while foreign investors in Tibet
must implement guidelines that aim to ensure the genuine participation
of Tibetans in the development of their economy," Mary Beth Markey,
the group's vice president, said in a statement.

The development model China is pursuing based on infrastructure
projects and resource extraction was not sustainable and was leaving
Tibetans dependent on subsidies from the central government, the
report said.
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