- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

From combined dispatches

BEIJING — China stepped up detentions in the Tibetan capital Lhasa yesterday and vowed tighter control over monasteries to contain protests spreading through its ethnic Tibetan regions.

An Associated Press reporter who was among a group of foreign journalists on a government-arranged trip to Lhasa reported that helmeted paramilitary police with batons checked identification papers in the city’s old Tibetan quarter yesterday, even as the government said it was returning to normal.

The first group of foreign journalists allowed into the Tibetan capital since the riots got a carefully monitored glimpse of a city divided. While police presence was visible but not overbearing in the newly built up and heavily Chinese portions of Lhasa, teams of security forces stood in the lanes near the sacred Jokhang Temple.

Asked to comment on the reporters’s trip, the Dalai Lama — the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetans — called it a “first step.” He said he hoped the trip would commence “with complete freedom.”

The western province of Qinghai was the latest area to report anti-government activities, with hundreds of civilians staging a sit-down protest after paramilitary police stopped them from marching, said a Beijing-based source who spoke to residents.

“They were beating up monks, which will only infuriate ordinary people,” the source said of Tuesday’s protest in Qinghai’s Xinghai county.

A resident in the area confirmed the demonstration, saying paramilitary troops dispersed the 200 to 300 protesters after half an hour, that the area was teeming with armed security forces and that workers were kept inside their offices.

The head of the European Parliament yesterday questioned whether European leaders should attend the opening of the Beijing Olympics Games and invited the Dalai Lama to address the European Union legislature on events in Tibet.

The unrest began with a series of peaceful marches in Lhasa earlier this month that soon led to a deadly riot.

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