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3april20104Dharamshala: China is clamping down on Tibetan refugees by strengthening its border control, a senior official for the Tibetan government-in-exile told reporters at a Tokyo press conference on Friday.

"Until 2008, every year we had on average between 2,500 and 3,000 people who had escaped from Tibet. But since the demonstrations in March 2008, that number has fallen," said Tempa Tsering, Tibetan minister and representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"Last year about 600 have come out," Tsering said, "firstly, the social restrictions in Tibet [have increased], secondly, security in all the mountain paths is strengthened, and thirdly in the Nepali
government, the Chinese are now training the Nepali army to guard the border, saying 'we'll train your personnel, we'll equip your police'."

The comments come after Chinese security forces last month stepped up the crackdown in Tibet's capital Lhasa, two years after protests marking a failed 1959 uprising erupted in deadly violence.

More than 400 people have so far been rounded up in the most recent of the annual Chinese "strike hard storm" campaigns, according to reports.

The US State Department last month said China's rights record "remained poor and worsened in some areas," with repression in the restive Tibet and East Chinese Turkestan regions, and the detention and harassment of activists. The annual State Department report also said that China imposed "tight government controls" on Tibetans, who were denied freedom of religion and faced severe repercussions if they tried to escape to Nepal.

Nepal has been under growing pressure from China to clamp down on Tibetans who try to cross the Himalayan region en route to India.

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