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Deep-rooted Tensions Surface in Tibet Unrest

The United States joined several European nations Tuesday in urging the Chinese government to engage in talks with the Tibetan government-in-exile, after two weeks of anti-government protests in the region. Experts examine the roots of the dispute.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Unrest over Chinese rule in Tibet. We start with some background, narrated by NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Today's protests erupted outside the country's borders in a Tibetan enclave in western China. Two were killed. There also were new protests in India and Nepal led by Buddhist monks.

    The latest unrest comes two weeks into a campaign of demonstrations started in the capital, Lhasa, by Tibetan Buddhist monks. They've since spread into the general population, protesting China's nearly six-decade rule of the remote mountain region.

    Thousands of Chinese troops and police have poured in to quell the uprising. The Tibetan government-in-exile said 140 people have been killed in the violence. The Chinese said the number was much lower.

    Yesterday, protesters hoping to pressure China disrupted the lighting of the Olympic torch in Greece at the game's ancient home. The Olympic Summer Games will be held in Beijing later this year.

    Along with several European countries, the U.S. State Department urged restraint on both sides of the dispute today. U.S. officials asserted that Beijing would benefit from speaking with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists.

  • SEAN MCCORMACK, State Department Spokesman:

    We would urge the Chinese government to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama. He is a man of peace; he is a man of reconciliation.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Today, the Dalai Lama said he is prepared to talk to Beijing.

  • DALAI LAMA:

    We always respect the Chinese people and their culture. Even Chinese communism we are not against. Many Tibetans who participate in these demonstrations are ideologically communist.

  • REPORTER:

    What do you think China will talk to you?

  • DALAI LAMA:

    I don't know — it isn't my view or not. It's up to them.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    But the Chinese have blamed the Dalai Lama for the unrest, saying he was trying to disrupt the Olympics.

    SHAN HUIMIN, Spokeswoman, Public Security Ministry of China (through translator): It's the Dalai Lama who organized and carefully planned the provocation and violence. It's caused by the Tibetan separatists inside and outside China in a bid to create chaos to interfere with the Beijing Olympics.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Chinese authorities also have banned foreign journalists from Tibet and neighboring regions in western China.

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