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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

China's hard line wins conformity but not hearts and minds

July 2, 2010

Deadly violence in Tibet two years ago has left an occupied city in its wake.
The Age
June 30, 2010

IN MARCH 2008, after bloody riots erupted across
the Tibetan plateau, a group of monks stormed a
Chinese-government-led tour of foreign
journalists at Jokhang Temple. ''We want freedom
… they are telling lies,'' said the monks, saying
they had been falsely accused of causing the carnage.

Yesterday, on another tightly controlled media
tour, a Jokhang administrator agreed to present
one of those monks. ''I have not been beaten. I
had to learn more about the law,'' said shy
29-year-old Norgye. ''Through law education I realised what I had done.''

Norgye's impromptu testimony, relayed through a
government interpreter, provided some evidence
that the government's patriotic education blitz
is bringing monks to heel. The re-education
campaign has come with a massive security blitz,
which a US congressional report says has led to
the arrest and detention of at least 643 Tibetans since March 10, 2008.

Towards nightfall, clusters of armed police walk
through crowds of monks, shoppers and occasional
tourists near Jokhang Temple or stand at street
intersections. Some wear riot gear, and
plain-clothes police struggle to hold back German
shepherds. But after dusk in hidden corners of
the majestic old city, Tibetans occasionally give
alternative views of life under hardline rule. A
28-year-old illiterate Tibetan says in broken
Chinese that the situation remains ''tense'' and ''terrible''.

He says he recently discarded his monk's clothes
to reduce the number of searches and identity checks he faced.

After leading The Age to a more secluded room, he
says in a quiet but excited voice that ''the
Dalai Lama is the No. 1 best person'' and tells
how he and many friends have prohibited
photographs of the exiled monk stashed away in their home villages.

The Han-Chinese proprietor of a shop selling
posters of Tibetan gods and spiritual leaders,
indicates that she, like many migrants from
eastern China who bore the brunt of senseless
violence that killed 18 mainly Han Chinese in
2008, is also feeling the pressure of Lhasa's
barely concealed divisions. ''Of course it's
better [in my home town of Wuhan],'' she says,
declining to give her name. ''The people here just shit in the streets.''

Beijing has taken some steps to begin normalising
conditions in Tibet, offering discount flights
for international tourists and inviting in our
small band of foreign journalists on a tightly scheduled tour.

Officials named rapid development of the economy
as the top policy goal. Lhasa has thus become a
frenzy of construction, although many Tibetans
still face what may be the most extreme income inequality in China.

Monks are conforming to the new hardline
religious policies and there have been few
reports of violence this year. But little effort
appears to have been expended on ''winning hearts
and minds'' or healing racial wounds.

In central Lhasa, armed police standing in
formation, rifles at the ready, look to be a
display of deliberate intimidation.
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