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Fourth echelon

China Boosts Security in Dalai Lama's Hometown Ahead of 80th Birthday

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TAKTSER, China — On the eve of the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday, China seems determined to stop Tibetans celebrating.

The exiled spiritual leader is due to spend Monday in the United States, after attending a Global Compassion Summit in California this weekend.

But in his homeland of Tibet, which is governed as an autonomous region of China, officials have stepped up security in an apparent bid to throw cold water on any open festivities.


He has been in exile since 1959, and there is no more stark illustration of China's attitudes toward him than in his birthplace of the small town of Taktser.

"They consider me a demon"

Sat on the edge of a valley and surrounded by barren, jagged hills, the town lies in China's Qinghai Province that neighbors Tibet. When NBC News visited recently, a narrow road snaking up to his house was blocked by police.

"It is closed to outsiders," said one police officer, while another took photographs of us.

"Local pilgrims are allowed, but you need special permission," said a young female officer wearing black military-style trousers and a white Bruce Springsteen "Born in the USA" T-shirt.



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