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German Minister Pushes for Openness in China

On a visit to Beijing, Germany's interior minister said openness is the best way to avoid an escalation of political conflict. Meanwhile, the first Tibet demonstrators were sentenced by Chinese courts.

German and Chinese flags

Schaeuble shared information about how Germany ran the 2006 soccer World Cup

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble urged China to be open in dealing with political conflicts, including the crisis with Tibet and security plans for the Olympic Games, while meeting with Chinese government leaders in Beijing on Tuesday, April 29.

"Openness is the best way not to let conflicts escalate," he said.

Schaeuble also met with China's Sport Minister Liu Peng and Minister for Public Security Meng Jianzhu. During the talks he brought up Germany's experience hosting the 2006 soccer World Cup and the success of the security measures that were implemented.

The German minister also welcomed China's willingness to meet with the Dalai Lama, but warned that the conflict wouldn't be easy to solve. Germany views the Tibetan leader as a representative of moderation.

Dialogue with Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama had said he would step down if protests turned extremely violent

Beijing on Tuesday said the Dalai Lama should "cherish" the chance to hold talks with Chinese officials, and restated its conditions for dialogue that included him ending violence in Tibet ahead of the Olympics.

"We hope the Dalai can cherish this opportunity, recognize the situation and change his position to take concrete measures to stop his criminal acts of violence, stop his sabotage of the Beijing Olympics and his separatist activities, so as to create conditions for the next step of talks," foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu told reporters.

The Tibetan spiritual leader has said he does not support a boycott of the Beijing Olympics and has called on his followers to use nonviolent means of protesting for independence.

Demonstrators sentenced to prison

An open court session in connection with the Lhasa violence

A court sentenced 17 people to jail terms from three years to life in prison

Also on Tuesday, the first prison sentences were handed out in a Chinese court to 17 pro-Tibet demonstrators who had participated in protests in the city of Lhasa in mid-March.

The protestors were given sentences of between three years and life in prison, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua. Beijing accused them of killing 18 civilians and one police officer and injuring more than 600 during the rallies.

According to Chinese reports, a total of 400 people were arrested during the demonstrations. The exiled Tibetan government, however, has said that more than 2,000 were arrested.

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