Chinese scholars of Tibetan studies defended Beijing's policies towards the Himalayan region yesterday, saying it was necessary to give Tibetan monks a 'political education'. Their remarks, part of the government's apparently co-ordinated efforts to shake off the fallout from the pro-independence protests earlier this month, came as overseas observers argued that Beijing's ineffective efforts to solve the problems in Tibet were partly to blame for the riots. Speaking at a press conference organised by the State Council's Information Office, Lhagpa Phuntshogs, general director of the China Tibetology Research Centre in Beijing, said the Tibetan monks involved in the recent riots should be punished because they violated their religious doctrines. 'It's also necessary to conduct legal education on them in order to prevent the Dalai clique, which has been carrying out separatist activities in the guise of religion for years, from fanning the monks' participation in violent activities,' he said. Dramdul, director of the centre's Institute of Religion Studies, also hailed as a success the patriotic campaign in Tibetan monasteries, a move that some say is unpopular among the monks. 'We carry out patriotic education in Tibet because the Dalai clique has been trying to infiltrate Tibet to disrupt development and the normal practices of Tibet,' he said. Beijing has signalled it will step up the campaign, first introduced in 1996, with Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu calling for broader 'patriotic education' during his visit to Lhasa earlier this week to inspect the restoration work after the city was rocked by the worst riots in 20 years. In yet another effort by the central government to discredit the Dalai Lama as the culprit behind the recent rioting, Professor Lhagpa Phuntshogs and Professor Dramdul, together with two other scholars from the centre, said that the economic policies introduced by Beijing had significantly improved the living standards of Tibetans in many ways. 'It's very clear that the monks who protested want to restore the old theocracy in Tibet. The separatist elements are not happy with the end of theocracy in Tibet,' Professor Lhagpa Phuntshogs said. Tanzen Lhundrup, from the centre's Institute of Social and Economic Studies, said relations between Han Chinese and the Tibetans were 'extremely harmonious'. He cited research by London School of Economics' Tibetologist Andrew Fischer as evidence that the government-in-exile had exaggerated claims that migrants had become dominant in Tibet. But Dr Fischer said he was misquoted because his research showed that Tibetans were still the dominant population in rural Tibetan areas, but not in urban centres. Dr Fischer said that based on private conversations with mainland officials and academics, authorities there were clearly aware of the frustration among Tibetans over the years but had failed to come up with effective policy responses. 'The government has taken a lot of action in recent years when they realised such tensions were emerging,' he said. But he said that trying to solve the problems in Tibet by boosting economic growth had reinforced the political and social tensions by marginalising the Tibetans. Dr Fischer said the move by Beijing to use the current crisis to portray the Dalai Lama as the culprit could be a sign that it was uncomfortable with his popularity among not only Tibetans, but also Han Chinese on the mainland and overseas. 'But Beijing will never compete with the Dalai Lama,' he said.