Chinese officials say the recent attacks by Uighur separatists in the
Western province of Xinjiang are not a sign of wider unrest in the
region. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Beijing, officials who met with
reporters Saturday defended China's dealings with ethnic minority
populations, including Tibetans.
Chinese policies and law
department official Mao Gongning, appearing at a news conference on
ethnic minority rights, called the recent attacks in Xinjiang the work
of a handful of criminals. He says they will not affect relations
between Beijing and China's eight million Uighur Muslims, who are based
in the far-western province.
He says the attacks are not related to ethnic or religious issues.
officials say Uighur separatists have carried out three violent attacks
in Xinjiang in the past two weeks, killing 16 policemen in one incident
and three security officers in another.
The government official
says most of China's Uighurs welcome the economic progress in the
region, although he says minority areas such as Xinjiang and Tibet lag
behind China's more developed eastern coastline.
China has also
dealt with simmering tensions in Tibet and nearby Chinese provinces
since riots in March. The government says the riots claimed the lives
of 22 people, mostly ethnic Chinese. Tibet's Indian-based
government-in-exile says more than 200 Tibetans were killed in a
crackdown by Chinese forces on anti-government protesters and rioters.
officials accuse the Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, of
backing a separatist movement, which he denies. Asked about the Dalai
Lama's support among Tibetans, Chinese ethnic affairs official Wu
Shimin said the Dalai Lama's supporters use religion to entice the
public. But he denies that the Buddhist leader has a large following.
Chinese official accuses the Western media of biased reporting and says
it ignores the economic advances in Tibet and other minority regions.
is tight surrounding the Beijing Olympics, following threats by Uighur
separatists of a terrorist attack to disrupt the games. Officials in
Beijing insist the games are safe.
Chinese security personnel
are reportedly keeping close watch on Uighur residents of Beijing, and
China has tightened visa restrictions to keep out potential foreign
A British reporter was dragged from the scene and briefly
detained Wednesday as he covered a pro-Tibet demonstration, one of
several small protests in recent days. Five foreigners who unfurled a
banner saying "Free Tibet" were detained and have since been deported.