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FACTBOX-Political flash points in China

(For main story see CHINA-TIBET/ or click on [nPEK334594])

March 19 (Reuters) - Following are five political flash points in China ahead of this year's Beijing Olympics.

TIBET:

* China said 10 people burnt to death in riots in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on Friday in the fiercest pro-independence protests to have rocked the region in two decades, scarring China's image months before the Olympics.

* The Dalai Lama, the main religious leader of devoutly Buddhist Tibet, fled on horseback after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and now lives in exile in northern India. China accuses him of seeking independence for Tibet. He says he only wants greater autonomy for it.

* Within Tibet, simply having the Dalai Lama's picture can be grounds for imprisonment. Critics say Buddhist monks and nuns loyal to the Dalai Lama have been jailed and tortured.

INFLATION:

* China's high January and February readings for inflation have increased pressure on the government to take action to counter price rises, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said on Wednesday.

* Annual consumer inflation jumped to 8.7 percent in February after hitting 7.1 percent in January, the worst in more than 11 years.

* Grumbling about high prices is already a constant in markets across a country where inflation has sown the seeds of social unrest down the ages, and the authorities will want to pull out the stops to avoid problems ahead of the Olympics in August.

TAIWAN:

* Chinese President Hu Jintao has called on the military to improve its ability to "win high-tech regional wars", state media said less than two weeks before arch rival Taiwan heads to the polls.

* Taiwan chooses a new president on March 22 to replace Chen Shui-bian, whose pro-independence sympathies have angered China.

* China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. It has vowed to bring the island back under mainland rule, by force if necessary.

XINJIANG:

* Chinese police shot and killed two members of a "terrorist gang" and rounded up 15 others during a raid last month in the restive northwestern Muslim region of Xinjiang, the official Xinhua news agency said last week.

* Xinjiang is home to 8 million Uighurs, a Turkic, largely Islamic people who share linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia. Many resent the growing Han Chinese economic dominance in Xinjiang, as well as government controls on religion and culture.

* Xinhua cited unnamed senior Xinjiang officials as vowing to step up their crackdown on militant activities "to ensure the safety of the upcoming Olympic Games".

SOCIAL ISSUES

* The number of labour disputes in China is rising by about one-fifth every year, but the government is trying hard to step up its mediation efforts, a senior official said.

* The ruling Communist Party bans independent trade unions in China, depriving workers of a key channel for resolving disputes. Unpaid wages, especially to migrant workers, have also been a source of the sort of unrest China's leaders are keen to avoid.

* China faces a grim mismatch between population and social needs unless it soon relaxes its one-child rule, government advisers and experts have warned.

* China's workforce is shrinking as the "one child policy" generation, products of a 1979 law banning most couples from having more than one child, enters the crucial 18-35 age bracket, the main laboour force for factories.

* Protests over a proposed chemical plant to make paraxylene, a petrochemical used in polyester and fabrics, in the eastern province of Fujian is part of the ongoing struggle in China between industrialisation and concerns over pollution, as the consequences of decades of unchecked economic growth fuel social unrest. (Compiled by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie and Jerry Norton)

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