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Tibet official: March Lhasa riots won't repeat (03/06/09)

   BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- A senior Tibet official said here Friday that the violent riots, which resulted in the death of at least 18 civilians in Lhasa last March, won't repeat.

  Although the riots have caused tremendous damage to the social and economic development and people's life in Tibet, it did not change the fundamentals of the steady development in Tibet," Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region government, said.

  "The overall situation Tibet is stable," he said on the sidelines of the ongoing parliament session.

  Qiangba Puncog said he cannot rule out possibilities that some individuals might make reckless moves next week, but he believed that "riots like those in last March won't happen again."

  His view was echoed by Chubakang Tubdain Kaizhub, a living Buddha and chairman of the Tibet Branch of the Buddhist Association of China.

  There will be "no problems" of stability in Tibet this year, as" a small group of secessionists who attempt to make troubles have lost social support," said Chubakang Tubdain Kaizhub, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, the country's top political advisory body.

  "A handful of separatists can by no means win the people's heart, and their disturbance would only result in the collapse of the social foundation for their existence," said he.

  MARCH 28 CELEBRATIONS

  In response to questions on securities measures on March 28, Qiangba Puncog said necessary measures will be taken in Lhasa on day, when celebrations will be held to mark the democratic reform that emancipated millions of serfs and slaves 50 years ago.

  But no extraordinary measures like martial law will be enforced, said Qiangba Puncog at a panel discussion open to media.

  The regional legislature in January endorsed a bill to set March 28 as Serfs Emancipation Day for annual observation in the region. Celebrations will be held in Lhasa and Beijing to mark the occasion this month.

  Legqog, director of the Standing Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Regional People's Congress, said the approval of Serfs Emancipation Day is an important move to wage a "tit-for-tat struggle" against the Dalai Lama group.

  "We'll, for a long period of time, face austere test in maintaining unification of the motherland, fighting ethnic splittism, and maintaining social stability," said Legqog.

  "Since the Dalai Lama and his supporters failed in an armed rebellion and fled abroad 50 years ago, they have been dreaming of restoring the reactionary, dark, barbarian and backward feudal serfdom in Tibet, and they have never stopped activities to split the motherland and undermine ethnic unity," he said.

  In 1959, the central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his supporters.

  "The younger generation in Tibet may know little about this history," Legqog said, adding the Serfs Emancipation Day would help "remind the younger generation of the bitter past so that they would cherish today's development, changes and new life."

  CHALLENGE REMAINS

  Despite efforts to maintain stability in Tibet, officials said disturbance and sabotage from the Dalai Lama group still remains and hinders Tibet's development.

  Citing tourism as an example, Lhasa Mayor Doje Cezhug said Tibet economy enjoyed a fast growth in 2007 and early 2008. But the violent riots on March 14 last year denied the autonomous region a good chance of development.

  Local economy, mainly driven by tourism, was "severely hurt" by the March riots last year, said Doje Cezhug.

  Lhasa received 1.35 million tourists in 2008, down half from the previous year, and the tourism income dropped by 58.66 percent to 1.17 billion yuan (about 172 million U.S. dollars).

  "We were also faced with other difficulties such as halt of factory production and investment outflow and shrink because of investors' panic after the riots," said the mayor.

  He noted that the city has taken a series of measures to restore normal economical and social order, including reinforcing social public security and promoting tourism by tax cut and tax exemption policies.

  "We will strive to ensure economic growth, people's well-being and social stability this year," said the mayor.

 

 


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