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China pledges crackdown on Dalai Lama news in Tibet

China aims to silence the Dalai Lama in Tibet by tightening controls on media. The country has long worked to control information in Tibet, but locals receive nonofficial news through radio, television and the Internet.

In an editorial published in the latest issue of Communist Party journal Qiushi, received by subscribers Saturday, Chen Quanguo, the top-ranking official in Tibet, vowed to "ensure that the voices of hostile forces and the Dalai group are not seen or heard." The party will attempt to stamp out access by infiltrating some websites, confiscating satellite dishes and registering telephone and Internet users by name, among a host of other measures mentioned in the article.

Officials would "make sure that the voice of the party is heard and seen everywhere in this vast 120 million-square-kilometer (46 million-square-mile) region," Chen wrote in the editorial.

China considers the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a "wolf in sheep's clothing" and accuses him of masterminding violent efforts to seek independence for the region. The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, says he advocates greater autonomy for Tibetans rather than independence.

Tensions with the Chinese government continue to run high in the territory, with more than 100 Tibetans setting themselves on fire in protest in recent years. After the self-immolations began, the party further cracked down on protest. In July, Chinese police opened fire on Tibetans marking the Dalai Lama's birthday, shooting at least one monk in the head and seriously wounding several other people, according to rights groups.

In the editorial, Chen referred to Tibet as "a front line of the struggle against separatism" and vowed to "strengthen the role of party committees at every level, as the sole power."

mkg/slk (Reuters, AFP)