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Who is to blame for the Tibet uprising

By Arthur Thomas - posted Friday, 4 April 2008

China's state media coverage of the uprising shows local and People's Armed Police unprepared for the violence as screaming Tibetan mobs, rampaged through Lhasa burning, looting and beating innocent Chinese residents.

Beijing's propaganda ministry launched a media campaign reminiscent of 1950's revolutionary rhetoric citing the Dalai Lama as the instigator of an anti Chinese rebellion:

We must see through the secessionist forces' evil intentions, uphold the banner of maintaining social stability ... and resolutely crush the “Tibet independence” forces' conspiracy.

(Beijing) is vowing to resolutely crush anti-government protests in Tibet.


To distance PLA involvement, as had occurred in the bloody 1959 and 1989 massacres, official statements proclaimed "the PLA is not involved in the handling of the incidents".

Reliable independent reports and images debunk that claim, confirming the presence of PLA 13th Army elite rapid response units and armour in Lhasa, in transit on the Tibet Railway and on roads from 13th Army bases indicating orders were given prior to the boilover.

While the red star and all insignia on vehicles, equipment and soldier's uniforms were covered, it was the PLA's T-90 armoured personnel carriers and T-92 wheeled armoured vehicles, weapons, uniforms and troop convoys that locked down Lhasa and Tibet.

Tibetans and Chinese live in a time warp between two different worlds of cultural values and beliefs. Tibetan Buddhist culture requires faith and devotion, the antithesis of China's obsession with materialism and growth at any cost. China sees undeveloped land rich in natural resources as something to be developed, mined, industrialised, farmed and urbanised. Blocks of old mud brick houses, narrow streets with open air market places are considered backward and unhygienic.

How do Chinese see the Tibetans?

"A repressed, feudal, uneducated race, incapable of releasing the full potential of the land. We will improve their lifestyle and provide them with employment and education."

"We Chinese believe in working hard to make money to improve our lifestyle and educate our children. Even if they are given the opportunity to become rich, they prefer to donate any surplus money to the monasteries believing the monks will provide a life reward."

"The State sees its duty to instruct Tibetans to become civilized, hygienic modern subjects, willing to take up job opportunities in factories throughout China just as many millions of us Han Chinese do."

"The State has spent huge sums relocating Tibetans from a cruel feudal lifestyle and settling them into modern housing with electricity and building schools and universities. They should be grateful, but they are not."

"They reject all our generosity and do not deserve to share in the benefits from China bringing prosperity to Tibet. China has wasted billions in trying to bring prosperity to these white eyed wolves."

"We have no Tibetan friends or business associates. We have nothing in common and believe they are lazy and they hate us. They say we take away what belongs to them. But look at them. Showering once or twice in their life is sacred. To us Chinese, that is filthy, unhygienic and unacceptable."

"The Tibetans don't like us coming here. They think that Tibet is their country"


The Tibetan view:

The Chinese only see Tibet as space for their overcrowded nation to grow, plundering the natural resources and in so doing, destroy our sacred rivers, mountains and monasteries and turn rich grasslands into deserts.

Racial disharmony does not just happen. Individuals and policies succeed or fail to achieve racial harmony. Disharmony in Tibet can be traced back to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) policies on territorial expansion, ethnic minorities control, religious suppression and perceived Han Chinese superiority.

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About the Author

Arthur Thomas is retired. He has extensive experience in the old Soviet, the new Russia, China, Central Asia and South East Asia.

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