CHENGDU, China — With restive Tibetan areas swarming with troops and closed to scrutiny from the outside world, China's government turned up efforts Saturday to put its own version of the unrest before the international public.
Information barely trickled out of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, and other far-flung Tibetan communities, where foreign media were banned and thousands of troops dispatched to quell the most widespread demonstrations against Chinese rule in nearly five decades.
The Chinese government was attempting to fill the vacuum with its own message. It disseminated footage of Tibetan protesters attacking Chinese and accusations of biased reporting by Western media via TV, the Internet, e-mail and YouTube, which is blocked in China. The communist government's leading newspaper called to "resolutely crush" the Tibetan demonstrations.
The media barrage underscored that the government campaign is moving into a new phase of damage control ahead of the much-anticipated Beijing Olympics in August.
"They've successfully managed the messages available to the average Chinese citizen, and this has fueled broad public support for a heavy-handed approach to controlling unrest," said David Bandurski, a Hong Kong University expert on Chinese media. "There will be no nuances to Tibet coverage."
Olympic boycott issue: European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said European countries should not rule out threatening China with an Olympic boycott if violence continues in Tibet. "Beijing must decide itself, it should immediately negotiate with the Dalai Lama," Poettering said in Saturday editions of Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "If there continue to be no signals of compromise, I see boycott measures as justified."
London protests: Hundreds of people marched through central London on Saturday, and exiled Tibetan Buddhist monk Lama Lobsang carried a portrait of the Dalai Lama, his country's spiritual leader, as he slowly led more than 300 protesters past the Chinese Embassy. The protest was organized by the London-based Free Tibet Campaign.
Support for China: Cuba on Saturday rejected criticism of China. In an e-mail statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, Havana also accused U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia of being the principal voice behind talk of an Olympic boycott.