- Title: CHINA: Life returns to normal but fears still exist in riots-torn Gansu Province
- Date: 11th April 2008
- Summary: (W1) HEZUO, GANSU PROVINCE, CHINA (APRIL 9, 2008) (REUTERS) CONFERENCE ROOM JOURNALIST (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) MAO SHENGQU, HEAD OF GANNAN PREFECTURE, GANSU PROVINCE, SAYING: "As a matter of fact, for what had happened earlier one, we were basically prepared. Especially when nearing March 10, the preparations were basically finished. We also predicted the possibilities of damage done by the Tibetans and Dalai clique inside and outside of China."
- Embargoed: 26th April 2008 22:45
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: Domestic Politics,Religion
- Reuters ID: LVA7WPH660M4PYWN253NBQ2TSJ69
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Maqu, a town in northwestern China's Gansu province, was worst hit by pro-independence Tibetan protesters last month, local official told reporters, but life in the region is returning to normal on Thursday (April 10).
However, a sense of tension and intimidation was palpable among Tibetans, Hui Muslims and Han Chinese.
Some shops and government buildings were gutted and charred and many had broken windows, although other shops were untouched.
Tibetan protesters attacked Hui and Han businesses and mosques on March 16, two days after anti-Chinese protest in Lhasa turned deadly.
Groups of young Tibetans, who locals said may be from neighbouring Sichuan Province, sometimes appear in the late afternoon, frightening the Hui and Han shopkeepers.
The roads were only opened last week, while local businesses and common people's lives had been badly disturbed.
Mao Shengqu, head of the Gannan Prefecture of Gansu province, said on Wednesday (April 9) the government was warned of the riots but had underestimated the seriousness.
"As a matter of fact, for what had happened earlier one, we were basically prepared. Especially when nearing March 10, the preparations were basically finished. We also predicted the possibilities of damage done by the Tibetans and Dalai clique inside and outside of China," said Mao.
He also added that the government did feel surprise about the speed of the riots spreading to other provinces.
Mao said the government will strengthen security and controls over places like monasteries to calm down fears among local Han and Hui people.
Mao told reporters that 432 people, including 170 monks, are still in custody, and eight people have been formally arrested for demonstrations in most of Gannan's counties in mid-March.
Monasteries and Tibetan monks were closely watched after the riots.
Two hours away Maqu by dirt road, monks at the Manrima Monastery in Xiaxiu said three of their fellows, who had gone to Maqu "just to see", had been detained. Two were released after paying heavy fines.
Although the Chinese and foreign journalists were invited to interview people on the street in Maqu, most conversations quickly ceased as government officials accompanying the tour approached. Many Tibetans said they did not speak Chinese, or answered simply: "We don't know what happened here either."
Most of the Han and Hui interviewed said they had moved to Maqu within the last decade, usually from other towns in southern Gansu.
Historically Tibetan Maqu is in one of the areas worst hit by famines and purges during Mao Zedong's rule, and foreigners have only been allowed to visit since 1999.
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