- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2008

China yesterday scrambled to contain the global fallout from days of bloody clashes in Tibet, as protests around the globe put the spotlight on Beijing’s human rights record just months before it hosts the Olympic Games.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the European Union all urged China to show “restraint” after days of rioting in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and neighboring provinces that left more than a dozen dead and scores injured.

A midnight deadline set by Beijing for protesters to turn themselves in passed yesterday with no evidence of mass surrenders or arrests, the Associated Press reported.

There appeared to be little official support for a boycott of the Summer Games, even as scores of pro-Tibetan activists planned a protest today outside the Swiss headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The demonstrators have vowed to block plans for the Olympic torch to pass through Tibet on its way to Beijing.

“Taking the torch into Tibet would not only be wrong, it would be dangerous,” Kelsang Gope, head of Tibet’s unofficial olympic committee, told the Reuters news agency.

IOC President Jacques Rogge yesterday said he saw no sign that the unrest in Tibet had jeopardized the Olympic Games.

“There have been absolutely no calls for a boycott,” he told reporters on a visit to Trinidad.

“We have been very heartened by the position of the European Union and the major governments of the world who have all said almost unanimously that boycotts will not be a solution,” he said.

Pat Hickey, president of the IOC’s European Olympic Committee, told a press conference in Slovenia yesterday, “Boycotts have never worked, [and] the only people who are punished are athletes.”

China, which has blamed the riots on the Dalai Lama, the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader of Tibet, successfully blocked action in the U.N. Security Council on the Tibet crisis and attacked Tibetan activists calling for a global boycott of the August Olympics.

“I think they made the wrong calculation of their situation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a hastily called Beijing press briefing.

U.S. officials have issued muted protests over the violence and have rejected so far any talk of a boycott.

Miss Rice, in Moscow for talks with top Russian officials, told reporters, “There’s been a kind of missed opportunity for the Chinese to engage the Dalai Lama.”

State Department spokesman Tom Casey noted that the Bush administration has consistently criticized Beijing’s human rights abuses, but said of the Tibet clashes, “This is an issue that is of long standing in China, and it’s one that’s going to have to be resolved internally between the parties.”

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