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FACTBOX - Tibet, Dalai Lama and relations with China
March 19, 2008 / 7:01 AM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX - Tibet, Dalai Lama and relations with China

(Reuters) - China warns of a “life and death” struggle with the Dalai Lama, as it seeks to end a wave of protests in its Tibetan regions with arrests and tightened political control.

The riots grew out of demonstrations commemorating the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Communist rule.

Following are some facts about Tibet, the Dalai Lama and relations with China:

TIBET:

* Occupying a large, high-altitude and sparsely populated plateau, Tibet is known as the ‘roof of the world.’

* The People’s Liberation Army marched into the Himalayan region in 1950.

* Wedged between the Himalayan mountain range to the south and the Kunlun range in the north, Tibet borders Myanmar, India, Bhutan and Nepal.

DALAI LAMA:

* The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s god-king, fled on horseback after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and now lives in exile in northern India. China accuses him of seeking independence for Tibet. The 72-year-old says he only wants greater autonomy for the region.

* Within Tibet, simply having the Dalai Lama’s picture can be grounds for imprisonment. Critics say Buddhist monks and nuns loyal to the Dalai Lama have been jailed and tortured.

SOCIAL TENSIONS:

* Activists say tourism and migration by Han Chinese could swamp Tibet’s distinctive culture, with ethnic Tibetans receiving less than their share of new jobs and income.

* China’s central government has invested billions of dollars in improving Tibet’s infrastructure, including a new railway across the snowy plateau that links Beijing and Lhasa.

Writing by Gill Murdoch, Singapore Editorial Reference Unit; Additional Writing by Paul Grant/Jijo Jacob

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