Lhasa riot poses severe threat to life, stability

Updated: 2008-03-19 11:23

BEIJING -- A veteran Tibetan official Ragdi said in Beijing Wednesday morning that the recent riot in Lhasa posed a severe threat to the people's life and social stability.

The crime of rioters, including beating, burning, robbing and killing, greatly threatened the life of Lhasa residents and resulted in significant property damages, said Ragdi, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, or China's top legislature.

Ragdi lambasted against the Dalai clique which he believed instigated and planned the riot in Lhasa last Friday.

Ragdi said a handful of lawless people, chanting separatist words in downtown Lhasa, burnt more than 200 civilian houses and shops, destroyed over 50 vehicles, killed 13 innocent people, and seriously injured a dozen of law-enforcers.

A preliminary investigation showed at least 373 business people and 32 enterprises had reported damages from the riot, with losses exceeding 99.1 million yuan (about $14 million) as of Tuesday night, according to the regional department of commerce.

"The rioters' cruelty has aroused huge indignation among the people," the Tibet-born politician said.

"We have sufficient evidence proving that the Lhasa riot was instigated, planned and organized by the Dalai clique," Ragdi said.

"The violent crime instigated by the Dalai clique is nothing but a symbol that shows fierce head-on combat between us and the Dalai clique, which has an important political connotation," he said.

The bloody commotion in Lhasa was aimed to reinforce its compressive stress on undermining the upcoming Beijing Olympics, Ragdi added.

"Ample facts have proved that the Dalai clique premeditated the riot, aimed to disturb the social stability at such a sensitive time. The riot was maliciously incited into a bloody violence in purpose to put pressure on the Chinese government," he said.

Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, updated the death toll of civilians from the unrest in Lhasa on March 14 to 13 at a press conference on Monday, up from the previous official figure of 10.

"The Lhasa riot has proved once again that the Dalai clique supported by some western forces hostile to China has never hesitated in committing secessionist activities," said Ragdi.

"By reporting the violent crime they committed in Lhasa, we expose their conspiracy to secede Tibet from its motherland and undermine the peaceful environment for the country's host of the upcoming Olympics," he said.

At the meeting of the Counseling Committee on Development of the Tibet Autonomous Region which was held here Wednesday morning, officials and experts agreed that Tibet is at the prime time of development. The regional government should seek the golden opportunity to accelerate social and economic development, while maintaining stability.

The central government has planned to invest 77.8 billion yuan in 180 projects in Tibet between 2006 and 2010 to improve local infrastructure and the living and production conditions for local farmers and herdsmen.

The funds used in Tibet's infrastructure construction and for its fiscal expenditure over the past 50 years have mainly allocated by the central government. Nine out of ten yuan spent by local finance of Tibet has come from China's central revenue, according to Qiangba Puncog.

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