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China vows to take Olympic torch to Tibet
Raghavendra in Beijing
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April 09, 2008 17:40 IST

China on Wednesday put up a brave front and vowed to carry the Olympic flame through restive Tibet [Images].

Tibetan and human rights activists had disrupted the torch relay in London [Images] and Paris, where the flame was extinguished four times by officials following protests, over the Chinese crackdown to quell the Tibet unrest.

"We will fully prepare for it and the Olympic torch relay in Tibet will be a complete success," the Tibet Autonomous Region Chairman Qiangba Puncog said in Beijing [Images], where the National Olympic Committees from across the world and the International Olympic Committee are currently holding meetings.

Qiangba said, "I have noticed that recently some secessionists made some activities in London and Paris," adding, it could not "affect the situation but only expose their true face to the world".

China plans to take the torch to the Mount Everest [Images] when climatic conditions are suitable next month.

"Holding the Olympic Games is the 100 year expectation of the Chinese nation and the torch relay in Tibet is an honour and responsibility for he Tibetan people. All ethnic groups in the Tibet Autonomous Region will support the torch relay," he said.

The riots in Tibet and other affected areas have left 20 people dead after the monks-led anti-government protests, the strongest in two decades, took a violent turn.

China has blamed the Dalai Lama [Images] living in exile in India for the unrest but the monk had denied the charge.

Qiangba dismissed the Nobel laureate's appeals to stop the violence, claiming they were aimed to trigger more unrest in Tibet.

He said that 953 suspects were detained for the March 14 violence in Lhasa and 403 of them had been formally arrested. He said 362 people had surrendered to law enforcement authorities but 328 of them had been set free as their offences were minor and they agreed to cooperate.

The Tibetan groups claim that the 150 people had been killed since the unrest broke out, but China insists that it exercised maximum restraint in controlling the situation.

China has poured a large number of troops and security personnel into the trouble-hit Tibetan populated areas and come under increasing pressure from Western powers to hold the dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

The Tibet unrest has also triggered calls for boycott of the Olympics [Images] by some political figures in the West, but Beijing has bluntly said it would not yield to pressures or threats on the Tibet issue.

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