03/20/2008 04:57 PM

German Protest over Chinese Crackdown

Berlin Halts Talks with Beijing After Tibet Violence

The German government has announced it will suspend talks with the Chinese development ministry because of China's violent crackdown on Tibet protestors. Relations between the two countries had only recently normalized after a fallout last autumn.

A Tibetan woman and child walk past Chinese riot policemen standing guard in China's southwestern Sichuan province.

A Tibetan woman and child walk past Chinese riot policemen standing guard in China's southwestern Sichuan province.

The German government says it will suspend talks with China on climate change and renewable energy until the violence in Tibet has come to an end. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Germany's development minister, announced Wednesday that talks that were planned for May with China's development ministry would not take place, given the current situation in Tibet.

The move comes only a few weeks after relations between Berlin and Beijing had been patched up after a fallout last year. Tension between the two countries prevailed after German Chancellor Angela Merkel received the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama in her office last September.

Wieczorek-Zeul called for talks between China and Tibet to end the ongoing unrest. "Violence can never be a solution," she said. "The two sides can only arrive at a solution through dialogue. Under these conditions, it's hardly possible to conduct government negotations."

While discussions on the development agenda have been halted, regularly scheduled talks between China and Germany will not be affected. The suspended talks were going to focus on fighting climate change and promoting renewable energy. Last year, Germany promised China a loan of €67.5 million ($105 million) to be invested in renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency.

Protests against Chinese control broke out in Tibet's capital Lhasa last week. The demonstrations sprialled into riots, which the Chinese military has tried to quell with a violent crackdown.

On Thursday, China acknowledged for the first time that the anti-government protests had spread outside Tibet. Xinhua, the state-run news agency, reported there had been unrest in Gansu, a province in the northwest of China, and Sichuan in the southwest of the country.

Chinese officials also said that 24 people had been arrested after demonstrations in Lhasa and 170 protestors had surrended to the authorities.

The German newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported Thursday that the last foreign journalists in Tibet -- Georg Blume, China correspondent for both the weekly Die Zeit and Die Tageszeitung, and Kristin Kupfer, who works for the Austrian magazine Profil -- had been expelled from Tibet's capital. According to Die Tageszeitung, police picked the two journalists up from their hotel on Thursday and put them on a train to the province of Qinghai.



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