China tightens its grip on Tibet

Olympic Games sponsors stand firm as China sends more troops to region.

    China's crackdown on Tibetan protesters has sparked ire across the world [AFP]
    Rallies continue
    Despite calls for the protests to stop, demonstrations are continuing.
    Your Views

    Could the Tibetan protests derail China's plans for a smooth run-up to the Beijing Olympics?

    Send us your views

    In one protest in the western province of Gansu, thousands of ethnic Tibetans tried to storm a government building.

    They were filmed tearing down a Chinese flag and replacing it with a Tibetan one.

    Wen says he wants these sorts of protests to end before he'll even consider discussions with the Dalai Lama.
    Xinhua, China's state news agency, that said 170 Tibetan "rioters" in Lhasa had surrendered by late Wednesday.
    Beijing had issued a deadline of midnight on Monday for demonstrators to turn themselves in.

    International reaction

    Gordon Brown's meeting with the Dalai Lama in London is expected to take place in May, but no confirmed dates have been announced.

    Speaking in parliament, Brown said he had pressed the Chinese leader to end violence in Tibet.

    "The premier told me that, subject to two things that the Dalai Lama has already said, that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence, he would be prepared to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama," he said.

    "I think is is important that we all facilitate discussions but the most important thing at the moment is to being about an end to the violence, reconciliation and to see legitimate talks between those people in China."

    Pope Benedict XVI also appealed for dialogue and tolerance between Chinese and Tibetans.

    "With violence you don't solve problems but only make them worse," he said.

    Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, said he would meet the Dalai Lama, who has been invited to Poland by politicians.

    Sponsors remain

    German sponsors of the Beijing Olympics have said that they will not pull out of the Beijing Olympics and will maintain their sponsorship deals despite civil unrest in Tibet.

    Adidas has decided to honour its sponsorship
    commitment to the Beijing Olympics [EPA]

    Adidas and Volkswagen, two of the key sponsors of the Beijing Olympcs, said on Wednesday that they would stand by their commitment to the games.

    "We believe that a boycott of the Olympic Games would be counter-productive and therefore we hold true to our commitment." Anne Putz, spokeswoman for Adidas, said. 
    Adidas will provide the uniforms for Beijing's 40,000 volunteers, while Volkswagen is to provide the event with a fleet of 6,000 vehicles.

    "We are of the opinion that the Tibet conflict is a topic, which politics and diplomacy must resolve." Andreas Meurer, Volkswagen spokesman, said.

    Uwe Kleinert, German spokesman for Coca-Cola, said the company was hopeful that the games would have a positive impact on the host nation.

    "It would surely be inappropriate to comment as a sponsor of many years of the International Olympic Committee on the political procedures in a country," he said.

    "But as a senior sponsor of the Olympic movement, we are convinced the games can make a positive contribution by bringing cultural and social advantages to the host country."

    Officials unmoved

    Meanwhile, a senior Beijing Olympics official said that last week's anti-government riots in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, and the subsequent crackdown by Chinese authorities, would not disrupt plans for the upcoming Olympic torch relay.

    One leg of the high profile relay passes through Tibet, taking the flame to the peak of Mount Everest, sometime in May this year.

    "We know the incidents are the last thing we want to see, but we firmly believe that the government of the Tibet autonomous region will be able to ensure the stability of Lhasa and Tibet, and also be able to ensure the smooth going of the torch relay in Tibet." Jiang Xiaoyu, executive vice-president of the Beijing organising committee, said.

    Many athletes are also concerned at the incidents occurring in Tibet.

    "To be going into a country that has massive rioting and death going on, that's definitely something to be paying attention to and be concerned about," Michelle Engelsman, an Australian swimmer who competed in Athens 2004, said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.