Security Tight in Lhasa

Police have stepped up security requirements for visitors to the Tibetan capital. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama's envoys wrap up talks with Chinese officials amid little hope of progress.

potala-305.jpg LHASA, Tibet: Chinese paramilitary police patrol in front of the Potala palace, 20 June 2008.

KATHMANDU—Authorities in the Tibetan capital Lhasa have stepped up security checks in the city, according to tourism industry sources, as envoys of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, headed home after talks with Chinese officials.

Formal discussions between Tibetan envoys led by Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Chinese officials ended Wednesday as the Dalai Lama said he was giving up hope that any settlement with Beijing was achievable. Meanwhile, security forces have tightened controls in Lhasa, according to tourist industry sources.

"They are carrying out very tight checks in recent days," a male employee at a Lhasa guesthouse said. "If people can't show an ID card, we can't allow them to stay here."

Guesthouses found in violation of the new rules will be punished, according to employees in the industry.

A Tibetan employee at a second guesthouse said Tibetans and Han Chinese alike were being checked.

Tightened checks on visitors

"They are really cracking down hard on the registration of guests right now. If we let one slip through the net, we get fined 500 yuan," she said.

"They are coming to check up on us, especially on people from outside Lhasa. Everyone is getting checked."

During their visit to China, the Dalai Lama's envoys were taken to the Muslim autonomous region of Ningxia by Chinese authorities in an effort to demonstrate Beijing's handling of minority concerns, according to the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, northern India.

The Dalai Lama has long championed a "middle path" policy with China, which espouses "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet, rather than the full independence for the remote Himalayan region that many younger, more radical activists demand.

The future of that policy will be the focus of a special meeting in Dharamsala next month of around 300 delegates representing the worldwide exiled Tibetan community.

Chinese authorities have made numerous arrests and launched a “patriotic education” campaign aimed at Tibetans after protests and riots that began in Lhasa in mid-March and spread to other Tibetan areas. Beijing says 22 people were killed in the rioting. Tibetan sources say scores of people were killed when Chinese paramilitary and police opened fire on crowds of demonstrators.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 following a failed uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Qiao Long. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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