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What´s the matter with Tibet?

Source: Xinhua | 04-25-2008 09:44

Special Report:   Tibet in foreigners eyes
Special Report:   3.14 Tibet Riots

BEIJING, April 24 (xinhua) -- Canadian writer Lisa Carducci wrote an article entitled "What's the matter with Tibet?" for China Daily, a Beijing-based English newspaper, explaining why people outside China usually have a prejudice against Tibet. Here is the full text of the article, which was published on April 22:

It is one thing to be interested in Tibet, as most of my acquaintances are. It is another to have totally prejudiced views, which unfortunately is the case with most of them.

Only a handful are honest enough to hold their opinions until they visit Tibet and see things with their own eyes. Some others hear only what they want to hear and what doesn't disturb their "Tibetan imagination".

Here is an example. A Canadian friend of mine, a university professor, went to Tibet in May 1997. He later told me that his group had been sent away from a Tibetan restaurant by the police and directed to a Han establishment.

The reason, according to him, was racism, an attempt to "break" the "Tibetan nation". His immediate analysis - before he understood a word of what was going on - was obviously based on prejudice.

I was not there and didn't see what happened. But after discussing the fact with Han and Tibetan people who knew better, we all concluded that the real cause might have been one or more of the following: the owner of the Tibetan restaurant had no permit; he had not paid his taxes; the place was not hygienic enough for foreigners; the owner and the policeman had a personal dispute; or the owner was trafficking ancient tangka, a kind of Tibetan painting.

We also tend to assume that all Tibetans are the same and feel and act the same way. Far from it. Those I met in Tibet or in Xiahe county of Gansu province seem not interested in politics. They live happily and quietly, and have no complaints about the central government as long as their lives continue to prosper year after year.

At the village of Tashiling in Nepal, instead, the Tibetan women I chatted with for two hours at the market had different stories to tell.

The major difference between them and the Tibetans living in China is that the Tibetans in Nepal think that "the Hans invaded Tibet and forced them to flee the country".

The woman who spoke better Chinese and served as an interpreter for the group said: "When our country is free, we'll go back immediately and get good jobs! Do you think this is a life, what we do here? Commerce!"

I took pity on her because she seemed to have been completely swayed by anti-China propaganda. I told her that all the Tibetans I had met earlier knew very well what the central government of China had done for them and appreciated it.

"I'm sorry to tell you," I said, "that you fool yourself if you think that your Tibetan fellows inside the country think the same way you do and support your efforts for independence."

She stared at me, her eyes wide open. "Have you ever been to Tibet?"

"Of course! If not, how could I speak like this?" She remained silent a moment, then said: "Every year on March 10, the Tibetans of the world march for independence. If you go to Tibet on that day, you'll see the Chinese army killing so many people in the streets."