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According to the U.S. State Department's latest Human Rights Report on China, China's human rights record remained poor in 2007. The Chinese government tightened restrictions in some areas, such as freedom of speech and the press, including internet censorship. The government also continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison journalists, writers, activists, and defense lawyers and their families.
The report also notes that cultural and religious repression of Muslims in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Tibetans worsened over the last year. The increased repression in Tibet was one source of frustration that led to the recent large demonstrations in the Lhasa and other Tibetan areas of China. The initially peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa during the week of March 10th were started by Buddhist monks to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising. On March 14th, however, protests turned violent and Chinese security forces responded with force.
Peace in Tibet, said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, will depend on establishing a sustainable process for addressing Tibetan grievances:
"And we believe that the Dalai Lama could play a very favorable role, given his belief in nonviolence, given his stated position that he does not seek political independence for Tibet, and given his unassailable, authoritative moral stature not just with the people of Tibet, but with people from around the world. And we're going to continue to encourage that dialogue because, ultimately, that is going to be the only policy that is sustainable in Tibet."
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The world is watching China as the Olympics approaches. The United States believes this is an opportunity for China to fulfill its Olympics bid commitments to increase access to information and expand freedom of the press, as well as take positive steps to address international and domestic concerns about its record on human rights and religions freedom.