The Chinese government is acknowledging it rounded up Tibetan monks who demonstrated in Lhasa, Monday, to commemorate the anniversary of an uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. Sources in Tibet say armed Chinese police have fired tear gas at monks engaged in a second day of rare protests. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the demonstration in Lhasa Monday was an illegal act that challenged social stability.
He says the participants were "ignorant monks," abetted by what he describes as a "small handful of other people." He will not say who the other people are. He says Chinese authorities will continue to combat illegal activities, to safeguard national security and social order.
March 10 was the 49th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising that was crushed by the Chinese military. Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, subsequently fled into exile in northern India.
Media reports say several hundred Tibetan monks took part in a rare protest march in Lhasa, to mark that event. They also were demanding the release of monks detained last October, shortly after the Dalai Lama received a Congressional Gold Medal in Washington.
The Chinese spokesman acknowledges an unspecified number of monks were detained following Monday's crackdown. He says they are all being dealt with according to Chinese law.
He also repeated China's defense of its presence in Tibet. He says China has helped rid Tibetans of a feudal tradition and has helped raise living standards there.
The Dalai Lama marked Monday's anniversary by pointing to what he says is continuing Chinese repression in Tibet. He says this repression includes human rights violations, denial of religious freedom and the politicization of religious issues.