Tibet govt calls for anti-China protests to stop amid crisis

The Tibetan government-in-exile has asked for a temporary stop to protests against China as the country grapples with the aftermath of an earthquake that has killed 40,000 and left millions more homeless.

A statement on the website of the Tibetan government-in-exile based in northern India said “in order to express our solidarity with the great natural disaster that befell on China, Tibetans across the world should shun staging demonstrations in front of the Chinese embassies in the respective host countries they live in”.

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck central China on May 12.

The statement said the halt in protests should continue at least until the end of May.

More schools reopened today in China’s earthquake-hit Sichuan province, but rain and a lack of tents highlighted the massive task facing the government in sheltering millions left homeless.

The country’s top anti-corruption office will deal sternly with officials who misuse or delay distribution of relief money, the State Council, China’s cabinet, said in a statement today.

Near the epicentre at Chengdu’s Qingyang district sports centre, 9-year-old Gao Luwei played with friends after attending classes in the camp’s one-room elementary school.

“I don’t know how long we’ll be here, but I hope we are here the shortest time possible,” said Gao, whose regular school in the resort town of Dujiangyan was damaged in the earthquake that killed more than 40,000 people.

Deng Yaping, four-time Olympic gold medalist in table tennis and an organiser with the Beijing Olympics, was shown on state TV talking to schoolchildren in a classroom in a blue tent in Mianyang, north of the provincial capital, Chengdu.

An official said it was important for children to return to their established routines of school and play to help overcome the trauma of loss.

“The most important thing is to return some semblance of normalcy to the kids’ lives,” said Zhu Jiang, a Chengdu city official who acts as spokesman for the camp.

“We don’t want them to feel like they’re refugees, but like they’ve simply moved to another place for a sort of extended holiday,” he said.

Compounding the housing problem for the five million homeless, rain was forecast for parts of Sichuan province.

The government has already issued an urgent appeal for tents and brought in the first foreign teams of doctors and field hospitals, some of whom were swapping out with overseas search and rescue specialists.

The confirmed death toll from the May 12 earthquake stood at more than 40,000, with at least 10,000 more deaths expected.

After nine days, rescues have slowed. None have been reported since yesterday afternoon, when a 60-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed temple in the city of Pengzhou more than eight days after the quake, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The Olympic torch resumes its journey through China tomorrow.

The torch relay will resume at a port in eastern China’s seaport city of Ningbo, travelling through the city and across the Hangzhou Bay bridge to Jiaxing. Later tomorrow it is to be moved by vehicle to the country’s commercial centre of Shanghai.

Organisers scaled down the celebratory, triumphant tone of the relay after the earthquake.

More on this topic

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Three pulled alive from Chinese quake rubble

China govt admits 19,000 schoolchildren died in earthquake

30 killed in Tibet earthquakes

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