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Fake bureaucrat takes China authorities for ride
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 19, 2013

Tibetan woman self-immolates in China
Beijing (AFP) March 19, 2013 - A Tibetan woman burned herself to death, leading authorities in China to detain her husband, rights groups and media reports said Tuesday, in the latest such protest against Beijing's rule.

Around 110 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire since 2009.

Kunchok Wangmo, in her early 30s, set herself on fire in southwestern Sichuan province's Aba prefecture, said the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and UK-based Free Tibet, which spelled her name Kunchoek.

Free Tibet and the US-based Radio Free Asia added that authorities cremated the body and handed the ashes to her family, then detained her husband Dolma Kyab after he refused to blame the death on family problems.

The incident occurred on March 13 but was only reported this week.

Many Tibetans in China accuse the authorities of repressing their religion and eroding their culture as the country's Han ethnic majority increasingly move into traditionally Tibetan areas.

Tensions erupted in violent protests in March 2008 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, which then spread into neighbouring areas.

Beijing rejects criticism of its rule, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and pointing to huge ongoing investment that it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.

Authorities have sought to crack down on the protests by arresting and trying those accused of inciting them, while also launching a major publicity drive on the issue.

A court in the nearby province of Qinghai on Tuesday sentenced three men to four to six years for "state subversion", saying they "used others' self-immolations" and "spread text and images related to Tibetan independence", the People's Daily said on its website.

Beijing accuses the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and his "clique" of inciting such acts to push a separatist agenda, and has previously jailed Tibetans in China for sending information about immolations abroad.

The Nobel peace laureate says he is seeking greater autonomy rather than Tibetan independence. He fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising, and has since based himself in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala.

Authorities in China are hunting a man who posed as a high-ranking government official and took part in all-expenses-paid junkets for years despite not holding the post, local media reported.

Middle-aged, clearly well-fed, and clad in the black suits beloved of Chinese bureaucrats, Zhao Xiyong posed as an official from the State Council, China's cabinet, touring factories and local governments, with free banquets thrown in.

But authorities in southern China's Yunnan province, where Zhao conducted most of his tours, apparently got wise to his deception, which apparently lasted over two years, and branded him an "imposter" on social media sites.

"Someone called Zhao Xiyong posed as the head of a State Council Research Office... made inspection tours and gave speeches," a local government office in Yunnan wrote on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Pictures posted online showed Zhao, in his black garb, sitting behind a red table at an official ceremony, while another showed him expounding on a point of interest to delegates sitting around an oak conference table.

Zhao's years of tours included local universities, a power company and a vegetable farm, and he would give rousing speeches about economic development before enjoying lunch, the state-run China News Service reported.

"We received a notice from the city government to accompany him on a tour, that was the first time I heard of him," one local official told China News Service at the weekend, adding: "We had no doubts about him."

Local officials were not available for comment on the issue Tuesday.

Zhao was hired in 2010 as a consultant for an economic zone on the basis of his State Council credentials, reported the respected Chinese magazine Caixin.

Its unclear how Zhao was able to trick local officials into believing his story, but he could face up to 10 years in prison for his deception, the China News Service said, citing lawyers.

The General Office of Yunnan's provincial government posted a notice calling for "all relevant government departments" to "take timely measures to prevent and expose Zhao Xiyong's fraudulent behaviour".


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