News: May 2010 Archives
By Radio Free Asia
May 26, 2010
Chinese authorities are still detaining a number of Uyghurs without charge after the Urumqi unrest.
New accounts detailing the detention of ethnic Uyghurs in northwest China in the wake of deadly unrest show how authorities have targeted members of the mostly Muslim minority, keeping them in custody without access to family and often without indicating when they might be tried or freed.
The detentions, near Ghulja [in Chinese, Yining] in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), involved several members of three Uyghur families on charges of separatism and religious extremism.
The first detention occurred on July 7, 2009, and involved four adult children from the same family in Bulaq Dadamtu village in Dadamtu township. The family's patriarch, Turghan Polat, said his children have been imprisoned since then.
"The authorities arrested my daughter because they claimed she taught religious classes to other women in my neighborhood. My other kids were arrested because they were reading some kinds of [religious] books. I don't know any other reasons. They have been in jail for almost 10 months," he said.
"Some have said my daughter is jailed in Urumqi. All I have are the detention notices. I don't have any official notice about my daughter's trial, how many years she got, or any explanation about her detention."
Turghan Polat said his two sons and daughter-in-law are being held in the New Life prison, but said he is uncertain about their status.
"The police just gave me their detention notices a month after they were taken into custody. But they haven't been tried. The authorities haven't allowed me to visit them, but they allow me to send some money and food to the prison," he said.
"The authorities said my kids were too religious--that was the main reason for their arrest. They accused my kids of covering themselves with religious clothes and undermining government-appointed imams by not going to certain funerals and religious ceremonies."
Turghun Polat said he had visited the village committee recently to meet with the Party secretary and ask her opinion on how to proceed with his daughter's case.
"I asked, 'Where should I go for her? The authorities never told me where my daughter is or why she is in jail. It has almost been one year and they still have never explained the reason why my kids are in jail,'" he said.
"She said she would go to the city to meet with higher-level authorities. 'If you would like to give me your kids' detention notes, I will ask higher-level authorities about their cases.' She still hasn't called me back."
On July 15, 2009, Setiwaldi Hashim, 40, and three members of his family were also detained in Dadamtu township for allegedly teaching religious classes without government approval.
The detentions, in Ulastay village, also involved Setiwaldi Hashim's 20-year-old son Qasimjan Setiwaldi, his son-in-law Tursunjan, and his nephew Abdurahman Osmanjan, according to Setiwaldi Hashim's sister Hajigul Hashim and younger brother Tiliwaldi.
Tiliwaldi said that the charges against his brother remain unclear.
"He was accused by the government of studying, teaching, and leading religious activities. But in his trial, the Ghulja city court didn't specify his crime--the judge accused him of reading some sort of book. I have no idea what kind of book he was reading," Tiliwaldi said.
"Since then, the local authorities haven't said anything about his crime. We contacted the police department and other officials to try to find out why he is still in custody without any charges. So far nobody is willing to answer our question," he said.
Also detained was a father of three, Sultan Tursun, and his wife Helime on similar charges. Helime was released after 40 days and is now living with her children at her husband's family home in Bulaq Dadamtu village.
Sultan Tursun's mother said she is also unaware of the charges against her son, nearly one year later.
"We don't know the reason why he was detained. One night [the authorities] came to his house and took him, saying he had received religious education from Setiwaldi, which is illegal because Setiwaldi doesn't have government permission for religious teaching," she said.
"Sultan knew how to pray five times a day for Namaz, but his reading skills are not good enough for reading the Koran. He only has a basic religious education."
Sultan's mother said authorities in Bulaq Dadamtu village had detained 11 youths from her neighborhood since last year, including her son, and that seven of them have yet to be released.
She said her son and his friends were charged as separatists and religious extremists during a court hearing that lasted around two hours. The accused were not given the right to defend themselves, even though they contested the charges.
"On Jan. 18, my son was brought to court. The authorities said the group leaders might be sentenced for up to 10 years in jail and the followers might be sentenced for three years. Nevertheless, they still haven't charged them," she said.
"I don't think they deserve to be jailed for such a long time. They might be sinners before God, but I believe that they're innocent before the government."
Atmosphere of uncertainty
Dadamtu Police Station political commissioner Salahiddin said he was unable to answer questions about Sultan Tursun over the telephone.
"If you have questions, come to my office. We will sit and talk about the case. I don't care who you are--if you come to my office, we can talk about everything. I can't say anything on the phone," he said.
A call to the Dadamtu Police Station front desk was answered by a police officer who gave his name as Mira.
Mira confirmed that Sultan Tursun had been detained, but he declined to provide details.
A woman from Bulaq Dadamtu village, who asked not to be named, said that even a year after the unrest, Uyghurs in Dadamtu township fear arrest and persecution by authorities.
She said that in the aftermath of deadly ethnic riots in the capital Urumqi and other areas of Xinjiang, Uyghurs in Dadamtu are also concerned about retribution from Han Chinese residents.
"Under the current circumstances, if the government and laws do not protect us, the people may kill each other. I have no idea about whether [the people detained in Dadamtu] obeyed the law or not. But I heard Setiwaldi and others were arrested," the woman said.
"If the government accusation is correct, I think they must have done something wrong politically. I heard about what happened in Urumqi last July 5. We are worried about the future of our children--even now I am worried for them."
Millions of Uyghurs--a distinct, Turkic minority who are predominantly Muslim--populate Central Asia and the XUAR in northwestern China.
Ethnic tensions between Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese settlers have simmered for years, erupting in July 2009 in rioting that left some 200 people dead, according to the Chinese government's tally.
Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness despite China's ambitious plans to develop its vast northwestern frontier.
Chinese authorities blame Uyghur separatists for a series of deadly attacks in recent years and accuse one group in particular of maintaining links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Original reporting by Jilili Musha for RFA's Uyghur service. Uyghur service director: Dolkun Kamberi. Translated from the Uyghur by Jilili Musha. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
Editorial | The New York Times
May 27, 2010
There is only one country with any chance of getting through to North Korea. That is China, the North's major supplier of aid, food and oil. As tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to spiral -- frighteningly -- upward, China is refusing to get involved.
China has only one concern: avoiding any crisis that might unleash huge refugee flows. If it believes that the status quo is conducive to stability, it is mistaken.
Relations between the Koreas have threatened to explode since last week when the South accused the North of torpedoing a South Korean warship, the Cheonan. It offered compelling forensic evidence of the North's role in the March attack, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.
What makes this so especially dangerous is that North Korea's erratic leader, Kim Jong-il, is in a power struggle to ensure that his youngest son succeeds him. (American intelligence officials suspect Mr. Kim may have ordered the attack to prove his willingness to take on South Korea and its Western allies.)
North Korea often blusters, but it has gone much further this time. Over the last few days, it has cut almost all ties and agreements with the South and threatened war if Seoul proceeds with threatened sanctions. On Thursday, it severed a naval hot line that was supposed to prevent clashes in disputed waters.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried hard this week to convince Chinese leaders of North Korea's culpability -- and of the need for Beijing to press the North to accept responsibility. There is no doubt about the North's involvement. An international team investigated the incident, and South Korea has produced a torpedo propeller with North Korean markings.
China needs to stop covering for its client and join in a United Nations Security Council statement that condemns the North's behavior. Privately, Beijing should make clear to North Korea that any future acts of aggression will result in a cut off of aid. The United States, South Korea and Japan, which have taken a strong stand against the North, also must leave some room for Pyongyang to back down.
The two Koreas -- which have never formally ended their war -- need to finally set a demarcation line in the West Sea where the Cheonan was attacked and sank. China could do real good if it worked with the United States to bring the two Koreas to the negotiating table.
By Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press Writer | AP | via UNCENSORED Yahoo! News
May 26, 2010
Rising tensions over North Korea's alleged sinking of a South Korean warship are providing an unwelcome reality check for Pyongyang's chief ally, China.
Only months ago, Beijing was reaping kudos for sponsoring six-nation talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear programs. These days, it's looking increasingly isolated for failing to back U.S. and South Korean calls to get tough on Pyongyang in the face of what investigators say is overwhelming evidence the ship was struck by a North Korean torpedo.
The ship sinking and rising tensions put Beijing in an uncomfortable position, forcing it to choose between traditional communist ally North Korea and close trading partner South Korea. Beyond that, the situation is squeezing China between playing the responsible power it says it wants to be, and protecting a loyal buffer state reviled by the world.
For Beijing, none of the options look good.
"China won't pressure North Korea. That could lead to a crisis," said Gong Keyu, deputy director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center at Shanghai's Institute for International Studies. "But if China keeps doing nothing, some countries may come to doubt our influence in the region and question whether Beijing is a responsible international player."
For now, Beijing appears to be buying time in hopes of an outcome that won't require it to take a clear-cut stance that could cripple relations with either Korea, with whom Beijing works to maintain a balance in ties.
On Wednesday, a vice foreign minister said the cause of the March 26 sinking in which 46 South Korean sailors died had yet to be determined, and called for dialogue in place of growing confrontation.
Beijing regards the destruction of the corvette Cheonan as "extremely complicated" and is "carefully and prudently studying and examining the information from all sides," Zhang Zhijun told reporters.
Chinese officials have been no more forthcoming in private, telling diplomats that the result of the international investigation blaming North Korea that was announced last week was inconclusive, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. They say Beijing has also faulted Seoul for rejecting North Korea's demand that it be allowed to send its own investigators to the South.
Yet the pressure on Beijing seems likely to only grow. On Friday, Premier Wen Jiaobao travels to South Korea for a three-way summit with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, and the incident is expected to feature prominently.
Meanwhile, South Korea's plan to bring the issue before the U.N. Security Council would force Beijing into a hard decision on whether to use its veto power to quash the discussion. Doing so might preserve relations with Pyongyang but could be disastrous for Beijing's hopes of being seen as a rising, responsible regional and world power.
By Radio Free Asia
May 21, 2010
Authorities in Tibet ban popular ringtones characterized as 'separatist.'
Students and teachers at a high school near the Tibetan city of Shigatse have been told to delete certain popular Tibetan-language songs from their cell phones after they were designated "unhealthy" by local education officials, according to its Web site.
The school announced recently that owing to the "increasing complexity of separatism," a list of 27 popular Tibetan-language tracks had been banned, whether in audio or video disk format, or as digital media files on people's cell phones.
"Staff and students must not have any of the above songs as their mobile phone ringtone," an April 21 statement posted on the school's Web site, but since removed, said.
"If you have any of these songs as your ringtone, please will you delete them; if you own any of the above discs, please will you destroy them by melting or burning them," it added.
It said the school's Communist Party committee, the education and politics department and the Youth League branch would be carrying out clean-up campaigns targeting the banned songs.
"Anyone possessing the illegal music or videos will be severely dealt with," it warned.
It listed the 27 songs, which appeared mostly to be in the Tibetan language, and included titles like "Happy Shambala," "The Hope of the Son of the Snow-City," "The Five-Colored Prayer Flags (Tibetan-language version)," "Snow-Mountain Folk (Tibetan)" and "The Awaited Hope."
The order was posted by Beijing-based Tibetan writer and blogger Woeser, who also detailed further restrictions on the cultural lives of Tibetans in their capital Lhasa, which was rocked by widespread protests and rioting in March 2008.
Copy shops affected
An employee who answered the phone at a photocopy shop in Lhasa said the new rules applied to materials written in Tibetan.
"Basically it's to do with the Dalai Lama. You can't copy stuff about him in Tibetan," she said.
"Most of us can't read Tibetan. The Dalai Lama has to do with separatists, that's the main thing...a lot of our customers think it's a real pain, having to register."
Sources in Lhasa said that most copy shops in the city were run by Han Chinese, who have poured into the Himalayan region in recent years on a new railroad line.
"They say it's very hard to get a license [to run a copy shop] nowadays," the employee said. "We got ours a while back, but I heard it's much more difficult now."
The proprietor of a second print services shop in Lhasa confirmed that customers wanting to make photocopies had to produce their identity cards.
"It's [effective] from this month," he said. "It's better this way. It's a bit safer. It is good for everyone."
Woeser said that regulations of a similar sort had been in existence for a while, but had never been strictly enforced.
"It's a way of cowing people," she said. "But it'll probably rebound on them, making people very uncomfortable, micromanaging them to this extent."
Cultural contributors targeted
China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights in the two years since widespread protests swept the region, according to the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).
The report said some 31 writers, bloggers and intellectuals had been jailed for expressing unwelcome views since the March 2008 violence and demonstrations, which spread across Tibetan regions of China in the months that followed.
ICT released "A 'Raging Storm:' The Crackdown on Tibetan Writers & Artists after Tibet's Spring 2008 Protests" on May 18, saying that Tibetans had continued to write down and publish their own accounts of what had happened during the protests.
While initial writing efforts were published unofficially and quickly suppressed, they have been followed by a boom in Tibetan fiction and essay writing, with younger, tech-savvy Tibetans playing a key role, the group said.
Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
By Radio Free Asia
May 17, 2010
A recently disbarred rights lawyer says he has been banned by Chinese border police from leaving the country.
Attorney Tang Jitian said in an interview Monday that he had been stopped by security officers in the southern China city of Shenzhen as he prepared to cross the border into neighboring Hong Kong on Sunday before continuing his trip overseas.
"When approaching booth No. 20 at customs, I was suddenly stopped by the police officer at the window, who called his bosses as well as two guards to keep me from leaving. Then two border control officers came and checked my documents," Tang said.
"They led me to another place. After about half an hour, the border officers said they had received instructions from upper-level management that I was not allowed to exit. I asked for the reason but they refused to explain," he said.
"I said, 'Your actions have neither legal basis nor justified reason. You deprived the rights of a citizen to travel abroad.' But they answered that they were simply carrying out the order," Tang added.
Tang Jitian and another rights lawyer, Liu Wei, were disbarred by legal authorities in Beijing last month for "procedural infractions."
The decisions resulted from a complaint by a court in Luzhou, in southwestern Sichuan province, where Tang and Liu defended Falun Gong practitioner Yang Ming in his appeal of a trial in April of last year. The action was widely criticized as China's latest move against human rights lawyers.
The court rejected Yang's appeal of his conviction for "using an evil cult to destroy implementation of the law," and Yang is currently serving his five-year sentence, according to Human Rights in China. The Chinese government officially considers the Falun Gong spiritual movement an illegal, "evil cult."
On Monday, Tang said he believes that the ban against travel overseas is related to his defense of the Falun Gong practitioner.
"I feel that the two things are connected. They fear my foreign trip could result in the exposure of illegal activities in China's judiciary system. They have done bad things but still attempted to conceal them."
Meanwhile, he insisted that all his defense practices were legal.
Lawyer Liu Wei said Monday that she had also received harsh scrutiny when crossing into Hong Kong two months ago.
"The border police asked me many questions, such as where I work, why I was traveling to Hong Kong, and even the whole itinerary of my trip. I believe my name might be on a blacklist," Liu said.
She said she would likely meet the same fate as Tang and face a ban on traveling abroad because she had defended a Falun Gong practitioner.
"It is only because we defended a Falun Gong practitioner that our names will be on the blacklist."
However, Liu pointed out that "As a part of the government, border control authorities should only act based on the law. Prohibiting a citizen from traveling abroad without providing a reason--this action equals negligence."
In Hong Kong, the news of Tang Jitian being barred from leaving China caused concern among rights activists.
Poon Kawai, a spokesman for the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (CHRLCG), said Monday that Beijing should stop pressuring rights lawyers.
"The authorities revoked Tang's license and then banned him from coming to Hong Kong or travelling overseas. This is an audacious violation of his rights. We urge Chinese authorities to cease persecution of Chinese rights lawyers such as Tang," he said.
CHRLCG is a nonprofit organization based in Hong Kong. It calls for the protection of the legal rights of rights lawyers and other rights defenders in China.
Crackdown on Human Rights Lawyers
The revocation of the lawyers' licenses may have come as part of a wider crackdown on human rights lawyers.
In early 2009, Tang and Liu were among a group of lawyers who filed a complaint against Beijing government offices over newly instituted fees for lawyers' annual license registration, complaining that the new fees were "blackmailing and extortion."
In May 2009, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice refused to renew the licenses of over 50 lawyers, including Tang and Liu. But until May 7, Tang and Liu had avoided having their licenses permanently revoked.
Teng Biao, a legal scholar who represented Tang and Liu at the hearing, called the revocation of the licenses "an act of revenge taken by the judicial bureau."
Original reporting by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated by Ping Chen. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
By John Pomfret | The Washington Post
May 12, 2010
The State Department has decided to fund a group run mainly by practitioners of Falun Gong, a Buddhist-like sect long considered Enemy No. 1 by the Chinese government, to provide software to skirt Internet censorship across the globe.
State Department officials recently called the group, the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, offering it $1.5 million, according to Shiyu Zhou, one of the group's founders. A State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the offer.
The decision, which came as the United States and China have recently moved to improve ties after months of tension, appears likely to irritate Beijing just as the two are set to resume a dialogue on human rights Wednesday for the first time in two years.
"GIFC is an organization run by elements of the Falun Gong cult, which is bent on vilifying the Chinese government with fabricated lies, undermining Chinese social stability and sabotaging China-U.S. relations," said Wang Baodong, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington. "We're strongly opposed to the U.S. government providing whatever assistance to such an anti-China organization."
The decision to fund GIFC followed a three-year lobbying campaign by Washington insiders, congressional pressure and opposition from some human rights advocates and Internet experts. It was also controversial within the Obama administration, sources said, despite the commitment of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Internet freedom.
Some officials worried that Beijing would view as a hostile act U.S. financial support for a group that China says has agitated for the overthrow of its government. Others were concerned the funds would get in the way of the Obama administration's broader engagement with China on issues as varied as climate change, the global financial crisis and efforts to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation in North Korea and Iran.
GIFC was started in 2001 mostly by Chinese-born scientists living in the United States in response to a withering crackdown in China on the Falun Gong sect. China launched the repression in 1999, and scores of practitioners are believed to have died at the hands of China's police and judicial authorities. China considered the Falun Gong movement, which on one day in April 1999 mobilized 20,000 practitioners to surround Communist Party headquarters in Beijing, as the most serious threat to its one-party rule since the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Members of the group were found throughout the upper ranks of the Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army.
The initial goal of GIFC was to allow practitioners of Falun Gong access to the teachings of Li Hongzhi, the sect's leader, who is believed to live in Queens, N.Y. But by last year Internet users in other countries where governments censor the Internet had begun using its software -- Freegate and Ultrasurf. Falun Gong also put ads encouraging people to join the sect on its software download page.
Freegate figured prominently in the demonstrations that rocked Tehran last year as Iranian dissidents used it to access Twitter and You Tube, which were blocked in Iran, to organize protests and post videos of the marches.
By Gillian Wong - The Associated Press - via abcNEWS
May 10, 2010
China AIDS activist leaves for U.S. with family after government harassment intensified
A prominent Chinese AIDS activist has fled China for the United States with his wife and 4-year-old daughter to escape increasing government harassment of him and his organization, he said Monday.
Wan Yanhai's departure highlights the pressure that nongovernmental groups and activists face when operating in China, where the Communist Party leadership remains suspicious of independent groups or individuals as possible threats to their authority.
In March, the government decided to regulate overseas donations to aid groups for the first time, a move that has hurt the funding of organizations like Wan's Beijing-based Aizhixing Institute.
The restrictions on foreign donations and other intimidation tactics drove Wan and his family to leave China on Thursday on a flight out of Hong Kong, Wan said in a telephone interview, adding that they were now staying with a friend in Philadelphia.
"The attacks from the government had become very serious for my organization and for me personally," Wan said. "I had concerns about my personal safety and was under a lot of stress."
"When I am in China, the authorities look at me like I am a bird in a cage. They say: 'If you don't listen to me, then I will eat you'," he said. "But after I leave the country, they will see me in a new light because I am no longer in their cage."
In recent years, China's government has made huge strides in openly addressing the spread of HIV, but the communist leadership is deeply suspicious of independent activists, and Wan has one of the highest profiles among those working on AIDS in China.
Wan, a former Health Ministry official, founded the Aizhixing Institute in 1994 to raise awareness and fight discrimination. Among its most significant and politically sensitive work was the publicizing of the spread of AIDS in the 1990s among villagers in central China's Henan province, where people who sold blood were re-injected with pooled blood after buyers had removed important components.
Wan has been detained or questioned by police several times in the past dozen years for his work, and in recent months he said he has felt increasing pressure from various government departments. The pressure started piling up this year with problems arising from the tax bureau, the state administration for industry and commerce, the central propaganda department and the education bureau.
In March, the government ruled that China-based aid groups -- but not those connected with the government -- must show proof that overseas nonprofit donor groups are registered in their home countries. The groups must strictly follow detailed agreements with foreign donors and not use the money in other ways.
"Funding became a major problem for us after that," Wan said.
Later that month, he was invited to speak at the Southern China Science and Industry University on sexual orientation and mental health, but the event was interrupted by police from Guangzhou, he said. He later heard that a notice had been sent to universities nationwide to prevent them from inviting him to speak.
Wan said the final straw came when he was even getting harassed by the municipal fire department, which visited his office in Beijing on April 20 for a safety inspection and then sent a team from the local fire station the next day.
"To be honest, I was becoming very worried. I felt like if we had acted slower, it would not have been good," he said, adding that he and his wife used a trip to Hong Kong for business to make the decision to leave.
"Before we left, we didn't tell a lot of people," he said. "We waited until Thursday evening after we got to Hong Kong, bought the flight tickets and passed through the security checks at the airport before we called a few friends."
Aizhixing Institute, meanwhile, will continue operating despite his absence from China, Wan said. In the coming days, he hopes to meet with international organizations to discuss ways to cooperate on projects and for funding.
Wan's move was met with support by Chinese activists, many of whom posted messages on Twitter, although some also expressed regret at his departure and worries about the future of his organization.
After hearing the news, human rights activist Zeng Jingyan wrote on her Twitter: "Shocked. Immediately, I tried to call him and his wife, but the call did not go through. I was crying, the tears covering my face. On the one hand, I wish him and his family peace and freedom. On the other hand, I feel unbearable."
When contacted via Skype, Zeng would only say "I empathize with Wan's feelings. Although I feel a little regret toward his decision. Still, I fully understand and wish them a happy life."
Zeng is married to the activist Hu Jia, who has championed AIDS victims in the past and is serving a 3 1/2-year jail term for sedition that is set to end in June 2011.
By Radio Free Asia
07 May 2010
Tibetans say mining at a sacred site prompted a major earthquake.
Tibetan herders in the remote western Chinese province of Qinghai have hit out at a mining company after it sank deep shafts into two sacred mountains in the area.
Four weeks before a devastating 6.9 degree earthquake hit the Yushu Tibetan region of Qinghai on April 14, local villagers have already taken their complaint about the Qinghai Xinyu Mining Co. as far as China's cabinet, the State Council, villagers and bloggers said.
"The earthquake happened on the day after they opened the seam," said Dhonwang, a Tibetan resident of Gyegu [in Chinese, Jiegu] township in Qinghai's Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
He said said local people were saying that diggers had reached the belly of the sacred mountain in Shanglaxiu village on the day before the earthquake, and that the two events were connected.
A second Tibetan resident of Gyegu, Tsering, also said nomadic herders from Shanlaxiu, Batang, and Xiaosumang villages in the Sanjiangyuan district were linking the earthquake to mining activites under two sacred mountains in the region.
"After the earthquake happened on [April] 14, a lot of the local people were threatening to kill the people who had taken part in the digging of the mine because they said they had now stirred up the sacred mountain and that this had caused the earthquake," he said.
"By the third or fourth day after the earthquake, most of the people in charge of the mine had fled."
Ecological damage from the mining operation had sparked complaints and petitions from local residents on several occasions, Tsering said.
Beijing-based Tibetan blogger and writer Woeser said a post reporting their petition in Beijing had been removed from a Tibet-related blog, blog.tibetcul.com, by censors.
In the blog post illustrated by more than 20 photos, the site detailed how a group of Tibetans from Xiaosumang had filed a petition with the State Council complaints office in Beijing, calling for an investigation into the company's operations.
They were complaining that the mining company was operating within an area that was supposed to be under environmental protection, and yet it was failing to take into account the personal safety or the property of local people, and that they were harming the fragile local ecosystem.
In their report, the villagers said that unrestricted mining activities in the region since 2003 had led to maternal and infant health problems, which they blamed on chemical pollutants allowed into the local environment.
Local young women had been unable to give birth naturally, and 90 percent of babies had been stillborn or born with deformities, they claimed.
They called on the central government to launch an investigation under China's environmental protection law into the activities of the Qinghai Xinyu Mining Co. and into unnamed mining executives from Putian city in the southeastern province of Fujian.
Sichuan-based government seismologist Fan Xiao said that mine shafts didn't go deep enough to have a direct effect on the faultline along which the Qinghai earthquake occurred.
"Sometimes, very sudden events, or man-made activity, can be linked [to earthquakes]," said Fan, who has argued that China's extensive hydroelectric dam-building program could have triggered the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
"But it's not very easy to provide a scientific explanation for the sort of links you are talking about, although it seems that they are linked in some way," he said.
Original reporting in Cantonese by Hai Nan. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Translated from the Chinese and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han
By BBC World News
May 06, 2010
North Korea's Kim Jong-il is reported by South Korean media to have met China's president ahead of expected talks with China's premier.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency said Mr Kim met President Hu Jintao before having dinner in the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday night.
Mr Kim was expected to meet Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday, the report said.
Mr Kim's visit, thought to be about economics and security issues, has been shrouded in secrecy.
Neither country has confirmed the visit but Mr Kim has been seen several times since arriving in China by special train.
The Associated Press reported that a fleet of North Korean-flagged limousines escorted by police was seen outside the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday evening.
This is where Korean news agencies said Mr Kim met Mr Hu and would meet Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday.
Another meeting with Mr Hu was possible, the agencies said.
The elderly leader is not believed to have been abroad since a 2006 visit to China.
Reports say he has already visited factories, industrial zones and ports in the northern cities of Dalian and Tianjian before travelling by train to Beijing.
China is North Korea's main trading partner and the country perceived to have the most influence on the state.