China sent scores of riot police into the streets of the Tibetan capital of Lhasa on Saturday in a show of force designed to quell feared unrest on the one-year anniversary of a violent anti-Chinese demonstration.
Western visitors to Lhasa, reached by telephone, said they saw 33 trucks carrying about 1,000 police officers enter the city late Friday night, a further indication of official anxiety that the celebration to mark the founding of Communist China in 1949 could again be marred by unrest.
Nearly 300 police--all clad in riot gear and some armed with machine guns--took up positions in Barkhor Square in front of Jokhang Temple, the most sacred temple in Tibetan Buddhism and the spiritual center of Lhasa, according to the Western visitors.
The temple has been the site of a series of pro-independence demonstrations since Oct. 1, 1987, when several hundred Tibetans burned down a police station.
A more destructive outburst of anti-Chinese rioting occurred in Lhasa last March, when as many as eight people were killed.
Tibet, once a religious state, has been under Beijing’s control since the 1950s.