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Dalai Lama Urges Tibetans in China to be Patient

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is urging Tibetans in China to be patient and not rise up against a crackdown that Chinese authorities are carrying out in the remote Himalayan region.

In a message Tuesday, on the eve of the Tibetan New Year, the Dalai Lama remarked that there was very little cause for rejoicing during the holiday this year.

He said that last year in Tibet, hundreds of Tibetans lost their lives, and thousands of others faced detention and torture.

The Dalai Lama said that since China recently launched a "strike hard" campaign in Tibet, there has been a heavy presence of armed security and military forces in most cities all over the region.

He urged Tibetans to not react to what he called "these provocations."

China says it has launched the campaign to crack down on crime, but the campaign began as Tibet marks the marks the first anniversary of rare uprising last March against Chinese rule.

March will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's flight to India, which following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

On Tuesday, China accused the Dalai Lama of trying to undermine stability in the region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters that Tibet enjoys social stability and economic growth. He said the people there are enjoying a good life.

Despite this, Beijing has barred foreigners from traveling to Tibet or to Tibetan areas in western China that are supposed to be open to visitors from abroad.

The two-week Tibetan New Year holiday begins on Wednesday.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for his homeland and blames him for organizing last year's violent protests.

The Dalai Lama denies the accusations and says he wants only greater cultural and religious autonomy for his homeland.