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Germany Warns China Olympics at Risk
AP[Friday, March 21, 2008 21:58]
BERLIN - Germany's foreign minister has warned China that its response to the crisis in Tibet may jeopardize the Summer Olympics in Beijing, a newspaper reported on Friday.

Frank Walter Steinmeier criticized the Chinese government's lack of transparency in the ongoing conflict, according to an interview with the newspaper Bild that will appear in Saturday's edition.

"This much is clear: the Olympic games don't work like they did 80 years ago," Steinmeier said according to an advance copy of the article made available by Bild Friday.

"You can't just host glamorous events for television while things are going topsy-turvy in your own backyard. The host has to allow thousands of journalists into the country -- you won't be able to sweep anything under the rug."

Tibetan exile groups say 99 people have been killed in a Chinese crackdown on protests against its rule of Tibet over the last few weeks. The protests began in Tibet and spread to other parts of China. Chinese officials say 16 have died.

Casualty figures and details about the protests and China's response have proven difficult to confirm because China is tightly controlling the information and keeping out all foreign journalists.

"The German federal government is saying to the Chinese government: be transparent!" the newspaper quoted him as saying. "We want to know exactly what is going on in Tibet. China is only hurting itself when it prevents outside observers from getting a sense of what the situation is."

On Thursday, the last two remaining foreign journalists in Tibet -- Georg Blume of Germany and Kristin Kupfer of Austria -- were forced to leave the capital, Lhasa, according to Reporters Without Borders. Earlier this week, Economist correspondent James Miles and a group of 15 Hong Kong reporters were forced out.

Steinmeier also warned China to avoid any violent measures in its standoff with Tibetan protesters.

"A solution can only be found through dialogue," Bild quoted him as saying. "The Tibetans want to preserve their culture, China wants political stability -- with that in mind, the two sides need to approach one another."

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