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Tibet's Tense Anniversary

Fifty years after the failed Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule, prospects for resolving the dispute over the Himalayan region remain remote. China treats Tibet as an inalienable part of the country and vilifies the region's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as a "splittist." The Tibetan government in exile in India, under the leadership of the Dalai Lama, refuses to give up its demand for "genuine autonomy" for the Tibetan people. At the same time, China's growing global influence makes many states reluctant to offer more than lip service to the Tibetan cause. Now, uncertainties surrounding the succession of the 73-year-old Dalai Lama are fueling fears about the future for Tibetan autonomy as well as China's stability. The fate of about 120,000 Tibetans exiled in neighboring India also remains uncertain, as India looks to better relations with China, say experts.

To prevent the recurrence of protests that roiled the region last year, China hasimposed a curfew on Tibet's capital, Lhasa, deployed thousands of Chinese troops (NYT), and denied entry to foreigners. Last spring, Tibetan mobs attacked Chinese shops and clashed with police, killing at least twenty ethnic Han Chinese, say authorities in Beijing. Tibetan exile groups say the ensuing Chinese clampdown on Tibetan monks killed more than two hundred Tibetans. The violence overshadowed parts of the torch procession in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, with protests in support of Tibet in a number of Western countries stoking Chinese nationalism.

China views Tibet as a backward, feudal, and superstitious society, which has progressed democratically and economically under Chinese rule. Yet international rights watchdog groups regularly cite Chinese abuses in Tibet.The latest U.S. State Department report on human rights said China's "level of repression of Tibetan...

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