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Beijingers side with government over riots for "Tibet independence"
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13:55, March 24, 2008

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Common citizens in China's capital have sided with the central government's handling of the riots seeking "Tibet independence".

Riots in Tibet and neighboring Sichuan and Gansu provinces with big Tibetan populations have been heated topics for Chinese, in conversation and online.

"Most Tibetan people wish to live a peaceful life and I believe only a very small portion of the Tibetan people participated in the riots," said Ngapoi Rinqen Puncog, a Beijing-born Tibetan who worked in Tibet for more than five years.

"I do not understand why they seek the secession of Tibet, which could only disturb peace on the holy plateau and bring no benefit to the people there," he said, adding that lawbreakers should face punishment.

Riots broke out in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, on March 14, resulting in beating, smashing, looting and arson that killed 18 civilians and injured 382.

The government has been restrained in its actions, resulting in injuries among many policemen. Even fire engines were burnt down by the rioters.

"I think the government's involvement is essential to ease the unrest," said Fan Jingjing, an employee of a state-owned bank in Beijing. "The government is doing its job."

According to the government, 120 homes were burned and 908 shops, seven schools and five hospitals were destroyed, causing losses of nearly 250 million yuan (about 34.7 million U.S. dollars).

Nearly 200 of those involved in the riots have surrendered to police.

News about the riots distracted Chen Junqing from her bustling business over the past week. She managed to squeeze in time for reading newspapers and watching TV, although her sliding door business in one of Beijing's busiest construction material markets is in its busy season.

"I learned from the TV news that several assistants at a clothing store in Lhasa, so young and pretty, were burned to death during the incident. This broke my heart," said Chen, a 40-something mother. "The mobs are so brutal; I have never imagined it. They must be punished by law."

Lhasa has been frequently discussed among local businessmen, Chen said. "We are relieved to see that the city is calm again and people returned to their normal lives. The government has done a good job in helping local people, especially those suffering the attacks."

Xiao Hong, working for the multinational consulting firm Mckinsey & Company's office in Beijing, has been planning a trip to Tibet for years, although she's been too busy to go because of work.

"Tibet attracts me, I think, and many others as well, because of its breathtaking landscape and well-preserved Buddhist culture," she said. "I always find it a serene place, physically and spiritually. So I was very much shocked to learn about the violence there."

Xiao said she did not have much of an idea about "Tibet independence" activities before. "But, this time, what they did was organized violence. Leaving them be would mean the whole country including Tibet itself will be harmed."

"I hope such things will never happen again. All Chinese, in every corner of this country, should live in peace and safety," said Shi Jianhua, a retiree in Beijing who was also struck by the innocent lives lost in the riots.

Source: Xinhua

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