As the situation in Tibet grows potentially worse and more unclear because of lack of access to journalists, a major state-run Chinese newspaper has weighed in by saying there's "no need to sweat over minor unrest."
In an editorial published on Thursday, the nationalistic Global Times said foreign hand-wringing over Tibet was fruitless and unhelpful. In recent weeks, Tibetan rights groups have chronicled a growing crackdown in the region, where monks and others have reportedly staged protests and set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule of the Tibetan region.
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The protests and heavy-handed response from Chinese security forces have been accompanied by a virtual closing off of the area, which extends beyond the borders of Tibet proper and into other Chinese provinces. Several foreign correspondents who have attempted to access the region have been stopped, detained and sent back to Beijing.
In a statement on Thursday, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said: "The Chinese authorities have set up a massive security cordon in an attempt to prevent journalists from entering Tibetan areas in Western Sichuan Province where major unrest — including killings and self-immolations — has been reported."
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The Global Times said China shouldn't worry about such things. But violent protests in Tibet that erupted in 2008 gave Beijing a black eye just ahead of its first-ever Olympics and led to anti-China protests around the world as the Olympic torch circle the globe.
Lumping Tibet in with Xinjiang, home to most of China's Muslim Uighurs, the Global Times said unrest is common in minority areas. It also seemed to hint that China is just waiting for the Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual leader and thorn in Beijing's side, to die.
"The frequent mass incidents in inland areas influence ethnic minority areas, and also the stability of the inland. As long as China remains stable as a whole, the specific problems in the border areas can be kept under control. We should have faith in this," the newspaper said.
"We should also avoid being impatient. It is not us, but people like the aging Dalai Lama who should worry."
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"As long as we accept the reality that some incidents are inevitable in parts of Chinese society, including Tibet and Xinjiang, much of the air attached to Dalai Lama's political power will be squeezed out," it concluded.