China Defends Crackdown on Violent Tibetan Protests

BEIJING -- China said Monday that it had shown great restraint in the face of violent protests by Tibetans, which it said were orchestrated by followers of the Dalai Lama seeking to wreck the Beijing Olympics in August.

But even as the governor of Tibet said no guns were used against protesters in Lhasa, troops poured into neighboring areas to enforce control as the regional capital counted down to a midnight deadline for protesters to give up.

Foreign reporters are barred from travelling to Tibet without official permission and tourists have been asked to leave.

"If the Tibetans in Lhasa take to the streets again in large numbers and really challenge the Chinese authorities, I think we'll see a very harsh crackdown," said Kenneth Lieberthal, a political scientist at University of Michigan.

The continued tensions ensured that the violence of the past week would hang over the country no matter what the resolution, with foreign protests, pleas for leniency and China's crackdown weighing on the buildup to the games.

But Russia said it hoped that China would do what was necessary to curtail "unlawful actions" in Tibet.

A brief Foreign Ministry statement, released after violent protests against in Tibet left dozens dead, made no criticism of Beijing.

"We express hope that the authorities of the People's Republic of China will take all necessary measures to curtail unlawful actions and ensure the speedy normalization of the situation in the autonomous region," the statement said.