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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Tale of two Tibets

October 2, 2008

The Guardian,
Wednesday October 1 2008

Almost 60 years of Chinese rule has polarised rhetoric, particularly
that of Tibetan exiles and the authorities

The events of March 2008

Tibetan exiles
The protests were a reaction to intensified political control of Tibet.
Hundreds of protesters died across Tibetan areas as security forces
cracked down. The Dalai Lama has never condoned violence.

Chinese government
The Dalai Lama and his supporters incited violence, hoping to split
Tibet from the rest of China; 23 people died on March 14, mostly in
fires started by rioters. The security forces' response was restrained.


Tibetan exiles
Han Chinese migrants are overwhelming Tibetan culture, particularly
since the arrival of the railway link with China in 2006. Half of
Lhasa's residents are now Han and migrants enjoy economic advantages
because of discrimination against Tibetans.

The Chinese government
Over 95% of Tibet's 2.8 million inhabitants are Tibetan or from another
ethnic minority.

While migrants have increased in number, there are still not many and
they are not settling permanently. Many bring useful skills and create


Tibetan exiles
Improvements in incomes and living standards lag behind the rest of
China. Development is eroding the traditional way of life. The
government wants to exploit Tibet's natural resources for the benefit of
other parts of China, risking the environment.

The Chinese government
Huge subsidies are improving the infrastructure and living standards; 97
of every 100 yuan spent in Tibet comes from central government. Average
incomes have risen steeply. Tibet needs its resources to raise living
standards. Safeguards for mining and other industries will protect the

Religion and culture

Tibetan exiles
The government is deliberately undermining Tibetan culture. "Bilingual"
education favours Mandarin, and patriotic education requires people to
denounce their spiritual leader. "Patriotic education", requiring
Tibetans to reaffirm loyalty to the state and denounce the Dalai Lama,
has been stepped up since the violence in March.

The Chinese government
Officials are pursuing "development with Tibetan characteristics".
Education is bilingual, people enjoy freedom of religion and the
government has rebuilt and restored monasteries and shrines.
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