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FACTBOX - Tibet, Dalai Lama and relations with China

Reuters - Chinese authorities sealed off three monasteries in Tibet, shops and vehicles were burned, and deaths were reported as a wave of rare street protests continued in the remote Buddhist region.

File photo of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, giving a lecture at the Rothenbaum tennis stadium in Hamburg, July 23, 2007. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen/Files

The demonstrations, which also spilled into Chinese provinces populated by Tibetans, began earlier this week after marches around the world to mark the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Communist rule.

Following are some facts about Tibet, the Dalai Lama and relations with China:


* Occupying a large, high-altitude and sparsely populated plateau, Tibet is known as the ‘roof of the world.’

* The People’s Liberation Army marched into the Himalayan region in 1950.

* Wedged between the Himalayan mountain range to the south and the Kunlun range in the north, Tibet borders Myanmar, India, Bhutan and Nepal.


* The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s god-king, 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. The 72-year-old spiritual leader says he only wants greater autonomy for the region.

* 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.


* Activists say tourism and migration by Han Chinese could swamp Tibet’s distinctive culture, with ethnic Tibetans receiving less than their share of new jobs and income.

* China’s central government has invested billions of dollars in improving Tibet’s infrastructure, including a new railway across the snowy plateau that links Beijing and Lhasa.