Beijing, Mar 10 (AP/UNB) — China is defending its often-criticized rule in Tibet 60 years after the Dalai Lama fled into exile amid an uprising against Chinese control, saying those who question its policies are merely biased.
The official Xinhua News Agency said in an editorial dated Saturday that economic growth, increases in lifespan and better education in the region refute the claims of critics.
Tibet is ruled under a smothering Chinese security blanket and many Tibetans abroad say the Himalayan region's resources are being exploited for Beijing's benefit while Tibet's language and unique Buddhist culture is gradually being destroyed.
Tibetan activists gathered in India's capital on Sunday, where they planned a march to mark the uprising's anniversary. They put up posters and hoisted a Tibetan flag.
China claims Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, although many Tibetans say they were essentially independent for most of that time. Communist troops took control of the region in 1950 after a brief military struggle.
Conditions in the region are difficult to independently ascertain because foreign travelers must get special permission to enter the region. Access is rarely given to foreign journalists, and the region is closed to foreigners entirely during sensitive anniversaries.
The Xinhua editorial did not directly mention Sunday's uprising anniversary, referring to the events of 1959 instead as the inauguration of "democratic reform" that saw the dismantlement of the Buddhist hierarchy and feudal structures.
"Sixty years since the epoch-making democratic reform in Tibet, people in the plateau region have enjoyed unprecedented human rights in history," Xinhua said.
"Undeniable facts and figures" related to development "debunk the repeated lies and accusations that aim to smear Tibet's human rights with vile motives," it said. "Anyone without bias will recognize Tibet's tremendous progress in human rights."
Among the figures it cited were a rise in life expectancy of 35.5 years in the 1950s to nearly 70 now; a double-digit growth in regional GDP over the last quarter-century; and reduction of poverty by 80 percent.
Citing cases of torture and forced political indoctrination, a coalition of dozens of overseas Tibet monitoring groups said the issue of human rights in Tibet "remains an issue that cannot be consigned to history."
"China has ridden roughshod over the human and political rights of citizens under its rule for far too long," the International Tibet Network said in a letter emailed to media. "With resistance by the Tibetan people so strong and vibrant, it's time for a response from the international community that matches their courage and conviction."
China has refused to meet with the Dalai Lama, the region's traditional Buddhist leader, who lives in India, or his representatives until they surrender their conditions for a greater degree of autonomy and submit to Beijing's authority unequivocally.
On Wednesday, China's Communist Party chief in Tibet insisted that the Tibetan people feel more affection toward the government than to the Dalai Lama, who fled following the abortive uprising against Chinese.
The Dalai Lama hasn't done a "single good thing" for Tibet since he left, Tibet Party Secretary Wu Yingjie said during a meeting of China's ceremonial legislature.
Chinese rule in Tibet has grown harsher since anti-government protests in 2008 culminated in attacks on businesses and individuals of Han Chinese ethnicity, the country's ethnic majority.
The government says rioters killed 18 people. An unknown number of Tibetans were killed by security forces in the aftermath.
More recently, traditionally Tibetan regions of western China have been racked by a series of self-immolations by Buddhist clergy and lay people calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, now 83 years old.
Also, on a visit to Prague on Wednesday, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile said he was heartened to see support for his people in the Czech Republic.
"Each time I come here, I get encouraged, I get the fuel to go back and say 'There are people around the world who support us, who believe us,'" said Lobsang Sangay.
Tokyo, Mar 10 (AP/UNB) — A ferry collided with what apparently was a marine animal off a Japanese island, injuring more than 80 people, local media reported.
The accident happened just after noon Saturday off Sado Island, Kyodo News agency reported, citing Japan's coast guard.
Five of the injuries were serious and a 15-centimeter (6-inch) crack was found at the ferry's stern. But ferry operator Sado Steam Ship Co. said the jetfoil ferry still reached its intended destination on the island, located off the west coast of Japan's main island of Honshu, according to Kyodo.
The ferry, which departed from Honshu's Niigata Port, was carrying 121 passengers and four crew members.
The cause of the accident was under investigation by coast guard officials, who said the ferry may have struck a whale or some other sea animal, Kyodo reported.
Islamabad, Mar 6 (AP/UNB) —Pakistan's Interior Ministry says authorities have arrested dozens of suspects, including the brother of the leader of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammad group that India has blamed for the Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian Kashmir that killed 40 troops.
That bombing last month triggered a dangerous escalation that last week pushed Pakistan and India close to an all-out war over Kashmir.
In Tuesday's statement, the ministry says 44 suspects were arrested, including prominent members of the outlawed militant group. Among those arrested was Mufti Abdul Rauf, the brother of the group's leader, Masood Azhar.
The ministry says the brother was among suspects listed in a file on the February bombing that India gave to Pakistan over the weekend. Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India and is claimed by both in its entirety.
Pakistan's navy says it spotted and warned an Indian submarine approaching its territorial waters in the Arabian Sea not to attempt an incursion.
The navy said in a statement Tuesday that the Indian submarine wasn't targeted, "keeping in view Pakistan's policy of peace" under which Islamabad wants to de-escalate tensions with New Delhi.
A navy official says the warning was "communicated" to the submarine during Monday's encounter. The submarine then moved away. He didn't elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity to talk to reporters.
Tension escalated after India last week launched an airstrike inside Pakistan, claiming it targeted militants behind a Feb. 14 bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.
Pakistan retaliated by downing two Indian fighter jets and capturing a pilot who was later handed back.
Manitoba, Mar 6 (AP/UNB) — One of Canada's largest grain processors said Tuesday that China has revoked its permit to export canola there, a move that some saw as retaliation for the Canadian government's arrest of a top executive for the Chinese tech giant Huawei.
China's action against Richardson International Ltd. following non-compliance notices alleging that some imports from Canada were contaminated with pests or bacteria. Canada disputes that claim.
"I am very concerned by what we've heard has happened to Richardson. We do not believe there's any scientific basis for this," Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in Montreal. "We are working very, very hard with the Chinese government on this issue."
The loss of the shipping permit comes as Canada is proceeding with an extradition hearing for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is the daughter of Huawei's founder. She was arrested by Canada at the request of the U.S., where she is wanted on fraud charges.
It wouldn't be the first time Beijing has retaliated against nations that offend it. China suspended its bilateral trade deal with Norway and restricted imports of Norwegian salmon after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo in 2010.
Britain and other countries were retaliated against over meetings with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, considered a dangerous separatist by Beijing.
Canadian Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a statement that the government was closely monitoring the situation and any potential impact on Canada's agricultural trading relationship with China.
She said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducted further investigations after China issued the notices of non-compliance on canola seed imports, including nine since January, and said the agency had identified any pests or bacteria of concern.
China is the destination for about 40 percent of Canada's canola exports, and the revocation of Richardson's permit hurts the entire value chain of industries involved in the market, the Canola Council of Canada said.
"We are aware of challenges our exporters have faced shipping to China — these are concerning as they create instability and add costs," council spokeswoman Heidi Dancho said by email.
Dancho said that while the diplomatic frictions between China and Canada are concerning, there is no clear evidence they are related to the canola dispute.
Neil Townsend, senior market analyst at FarmLink, however, said he thinks there is a definite link to the Huawei case. "There's no doubt China's mad at us," he said.
Beijing has warned of serious consequences if Meng is not released. China arrested two Canadians on Dec. 10 in what was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng.
After Meng's arrest, a Chinese court also sentenced a Canadian to death in a sudden retrial, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier.
China's move hits a vital crop for western Canada, and comes after canola prices have already been hit by China's retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports. The industry should be concerned because if China cuts back on buying it would hit prices further, Townsend said.
"With China kind of saying — because they're mad about the Huawei thing — they're basically saying like, "Oh, we're not going to buy any more,'" Townsend said.
He said he suspects Richardson was targeted since it is the largest exporter that is fully Canadian-owned.
Pakistan, Mar 5 (AP/UNB) — A key train service with neighboring India resumed and schools in Pakistani Kashmir opened Monday in another sign of easing tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals since a major escalation last week over the disputed Kashmir region.
Pakistan Railways spokesman Ejaz Shah said the train service, known as the Samjhauta Express, left the eastern city of Lahore for India's border town of Atari, with some 180 passengers on board.
Pakistan suspended the train service last week as tensions escalated following India's airstrike on Tuesday inside Pakistan. India said it targeted militants behind a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.
Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a fighter jet the next day and detaining its pilot, who was returned to India two days later.
Also Monday, schools in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir opened after seven days of closure amid the heightened tensions.
Raja Jaleel, head teacher at a secondary school in Chakothi, which is close to the Line of Control border in the disputed region, said classes resumed but attendance was thin.
He lauded the courage of the students who attended, as many of the area's parents are keeping their children home for their safety.
"We have started our day with prayers for peace," said the head teacher, adding that the students also chanted slogans in support of the army.
Schools were closed when Indian and Pakistani troops were trading fire across the Line of Control. At least eight civilians and two soldiers have been killed in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir since tensions soared following India's airstrike last Tuesday.
The reopening of schools on the Pakistani side of Kashmir and the resumption of the train service amid the lull in the crossfire for the second consecutive day suggests that the two nuclear-armed rivals have heeded international calls to exercise restraint. But Pakistan hasn't yet opened its airspace for flights to or from the east.
Senior civil aviation official Aamir Mahboob said that there was "no change yet in our aviation policy toward east but the west corridor is open for all flights."
After the suicide bombing on Feb 14 in the Pulwama district of Indian-controlled Kashmir, Indian jets crossed into Pakistani Kashmir and then into the Balakot section of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where they dropped bombs. India claimed its jets struck the militants behind the Pulwama attack. Pakistan denied that any such militant base existed in the area or that was hit by jets. Next day Pakistan shot down two Indian jets and detained a pilot who landed on the Pakistani side. He was handed back to India in a gesture of peace two days later.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947. Both countries claim the territory in its entirety and have fought two of their three wars over it. The rivals struck a cease-fire deal in 2003 but regularly trade cross-border fire.