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Oregon town angers China with controversial mural

A mural painted along the top of a building at a busy intersection in Corvallis, Ore., has angered Chinese consular officials. The mural's themes are China's human rights violations and independence for Taiwan.

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Tibetan monks pray during a candlelight protest march in New Delhi October 20, 2011. A controversial mural in Oregon has outraged Chinese officials. It portrays a Tibetan monk's immolation, amongst other themes.

Parivartan Sharma/Reuters

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A vivid mural in an Oregon town that depicts a Tibetan monk's immolation and promotes independence for Taiwan has created a dust-up with China, whose consular officials have asked the city to take "effective measures" to stop such advocacy.

The mayor of the town of Corvallis, where a Taiwanese-American businessman installed the downtown mural to express his political views, responded by telling consular officials free speech laws barred the town from taking any action.

The status of Taiwan and the human rights situation in Tibet is a contentious political issue for China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province to be eventually unified with the mainland.

Tensions over Tibet are at their highest in years after a spate of protests over Chinese rule and self-immolations by Tibetan activists, which have prompted a Chinese security crackdown.

"There is only one China in the world, and both Tibet and Taiwan are parts of China. It is a fact recognized by the U.S. and most other countries in the world," read an Aug. 8 letter to Corvallis city leaders from China's Consulate in San Francisco.

"To avoid our precious friendship from being tainted by so-called 'Tibet Independence' and 'Taiwan Independence,' we sincerely hope you can understand our concerns and adopt effective measures to stop the activities advocating 'Tibet Independence' and 'Taiwan Independence' in Corvallis," it added.

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