By Christopher Bodeen,
Associated Press Writer
BEIJING – A video that appears to show police fatally beating a Tibetan protester was a fake concocted by supporters of the Dalai Lama, China said Tuesday — the same day the video-sharing network YouTube said its service had been blocked in China.
The video has been posted on YouTube in recent days.
A spokesman for Google, which owns YouTube, said he couldn't comment on the Chinese government's reason for the block.
"We are looking into it and working to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible," spokesman Scott Rubin said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
China occasionally blocks YouTube to prevent access to videos that criticize or shine an unflattering light on its policies. Users in Beijing said they were unable to access the site late Tuesday.
The official Xinhua News Agency, citing an unidentified official with China's Tibetan regional government, reported Tuesday that the video came from sources tied to the government-in-exile of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, and was pieced together from different places.
The Xinhua report said the footage purported to show a person named Tendar being beaten to death by police after a riot in Lhasa, the Tibet region's capital, on March 14 last year. Xinhua said the person was not in fact Tendar and the wounds shown were fake.
"The Dalai Lama group is used to fabricating lies to deceive the international community and the aim of this video is to hide the truth of the March 14th riot," Xinhua quoted the official as saying.
The government did not directly address whether YouTube had been blocked. When asked, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters: "Many people have a false impression that the Chinese government fears the Internet. In fact it is just the opposite."
Users in Beijing said they were unable to access the site late Tuesday.
Security in China's Tibetan areas has been tightened in recent weeks because of sensitive anniversaries this month. March 14 marked the one-year anniversary of anti-government riots in Lhasa, Tibet's regional capital, while March 17 marked 50 years since the Dalai Lama escaped into exile in India after Chinese troops crushed a Tibetan uprising.
Armed police have been patrolling a Tibetan community in northwest China following reports that six people were arrested after a crowd of hundreds — including Buddhist monks — attacked a police station over the weekend.