News out of Tibet: Updated (2)

Tibet Protests Spread to Other Provinces

Protests spread from Tibet into three neighboring provinces Sunday as Tibetans defied a Chinese government crackdown, while the Dalai Lama decried what he called the “cultural genocide” taking place in his homeland.

Demonstrations widened to Tibetan communities in Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces, forcing authorities to mobilize security forces across a broad expanse of western China.

In Tongren, riot police sent to prevent protests set off tensions when they took up positions outside a monastery. Dozens of monks, defying a directive not to gather in groups, marched to a hill where they set off fireworks and burned incense in what one monk said was a protest, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Update from Richard: Before going off on another emotional tangent about Tibet, I strongly urge readers to take a look at this very intelligent article that seeks to put the issue into context, telling us how the Han Chinese see it, and how the Tibetans see it. There’s a lot we all can learn from this. The link was provided by a reader who saw it on China Law Blog. Good find.

Another Update from Richard: This blog is currently blocked in China, at least for the moment. It was the same as usual: The page started to load and then suddenly the “server was reset” window came up. I am presuming this is because of Tibet in the headlines, or…? CNN is providing a nice black screen with no sound for every story it’s reporting on Tibet.

To Hongxing’s harebrained comment below: Check Google News. There are hundreds of articles on the embassy attacks. How come you never, ever know what you’re talking about?

Updated by Raj

Another interesting article, this time from the IHT.

China’s tough line in Tibet is seen to have brought only resentment

But to many Tibetans and their sympathizers, the unleashed fury is sad and shocking yet not a complete surprise. Tibetan anger has simmered over Chinese policies on the environment, tightening religious restrictions and a harder political line from Beijing. Ethnic tensions and economic anxiety have also sharpened as Chinese migrants have poured into Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

“Why did the unrest take off?” asked Liu Junning, a liberal political scientist in Beijing. “I think it has something to do with the long-term policy failure of the central authorities. They failed to earn the respect of the people there.”

Certainly the Chinese government has failed to bring the Tibetans along with them. They made grand promises about new wealth for Tibet and failed to deliver. This should serve as a warning to the CCP. If you deny people freedom and justify your autocratic rule based on wealth creation, if you don’t make enough people rich quickly enough they will strike back.

I hope this isn’t a taste of the future that awaits China across all its provinces, but I fear it is one scenario.

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News out of Tibet: Updated

UPDATE SUNDAY 6:30 A.M. BEIJING TIME

AP:

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported at least 10 civilians were burned to death on Friday. The Dalai Lama’s exiled Tibetan government in India said Chinese authorities killed at least 30 Tibetans and possibly as many as 100. The figures could not be independently verified.

In the Tibetan capital Lhasa on Saturday, police manned checkpoints and armored personnel carriers rattled on mostly empty streets as people stayed indoors under a curfew, witnesses said. The show of force imposed a tense quiet.

Several witnesses reported hearing occasional bursts of gunfire. One Westerner who went to a rooftop in Lhasa’s old city said he saw troops with automatic rifles moving through the streets firing, though did not see anyone shot.

Foreign tourists in Lhasa were told to leave, a hotel manager and travel guide said, with the guide adding that some were turned back at the airport.

“There are military blockades blocking off whole portions of the city, and the entire city is basically closed down,” said a 23-year-old Canadian student who arrived in Lhasa on Saturday and who was making plans to leave. “All the restaurants are closed, all the hotels are closed.”

NYT, among other sources, are reporting on the uprisings in Xiahe, Gansu:

Thousands of Buddhist monks and other Tibetans clashed with the riot police in a second Chinese city on Saturday, while the authorities said they had regained control of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, a day after a rampaging mob ransacked shops and set fire to cars and storefronts in a deadly riot.

Residents in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, walked through Barkhor, an ancient part of the city where protesters had set fire to a shop and several vehicles on Friday.

Conflicting reports emerged about the violence in Lhasa on Friday. The Chinese authorities denied that they had fired on protesters there, but Tibetan leaders in India told news agencies on Saturday that they had confirmed that 30 Tibetans had died and that they had unconfirmed reports that put the number at more than 100.

Demonstrations erupted for the second consecutive day in the city of Xiahe in Gansu Province, where an estimated 4,000 Tibetans gathered near the Labrang Monastery. Local monks had held a smaller protest on Friday, but the confrontation escalated Saturday afternoon, according to witnesses and Tibetans in India who spoke with protesters by telephone.

Residents in Xiahe, reached by telephone, heard loud noises similar to gunshots or explosions. A waitress described the scene as “chaos” and said many injured people had been sent to a local hospital. Large numbers of military police and security officers fired tear gas while Tibetans hurled rocks, according to the Tibetans in India.

“Their slogans were, ‘The Dalai Lama must return to Tibet’ and ‘Tibetans need to have human rights in Tibet,’ ” said Jamyang, a Tibetan in Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, who spoke to protesters.

Update by Raj

An eyewitness account via the Times, by James Miles of The Economist in Lhasa. [The Economist had been given permission to enter Tibet recently - Chinese officials will be kicking themselves over that!]

Unsurprisingly Chinese “security forces” may well have kicked this all off.

It began with an attack on monks near one of Lhasa’s temples. The security forces are reported to have beaten a couple of monks with their fists and this led to a monk retaliating by throwing stones at police and police vehicles. Nearby crowds then joined in, throwing stones at Chinese shops and businesses.

Obviously Tibetans didn’t get the memo from Beijing that if they’re attacked by government thugs, they’re to smile, thank their attackers and ask if they wouldn’t mind handing out another beating…..

Update by Richard TPD:
15tibet-ledespan-600.jpg
Chinese security forces in Lhasa on 5th day of protests

Chinese media are now saying ten have been killed in the Tibet protests. Whether the protests are wreaking chaos or whether they are small and localized seem to depend on whom you’re asking. What is not in question, however, is the fact that the CCP is now scared shitless of the cloud this has to cast over their beloved Olympic Games. Relevant or not, fair or not, there is no way they can reconcile the scenes of chaos with the rosy glow of harmony in which they shroud the Games.

The image China has attempted to show the world is flawed and there’s no way they can hide its deep structural defects. Winning the Olympics truly was “a double-edged sword.”

UPDATES SATURDAY MARCH 15: Associated Press, Reuters:

TURMOIL IN TIBET — Protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule in Tibet turned violent, filling the provincial capital of Lhasa in smoke from tear gas, bonfires and burned shops. According to eyewitness accounts and photos posted on the Internet, crowds hurled rocks at riot police, hotels and restaurants. The U.S. Embassy said Americans had reported gunfire. U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia reported two people were killed.

DALAI LAMA COMMENT — Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, called the protests a “manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people,” and urged both sides to avoid violence. In Dharmsala, India, the site of Tibet’s government-in-exile, he urged China’s leadership to “stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people.”

U.S. COMMENT — White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Beijing needs to respect Tibetan culture and multi-ethnicity in its society. “We regret the tensions between the ethnic groups and Beijing,” he said, adding that President Bush has said consistently that Beijing needs to have a dialogue with the Dalai Lama. The U.S. ambassador to China has urged the government to “act with restraint” in dealing with the protesters, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

OLYMPIC OUTLOOK — The violence poses difficulties for a Communist leadership that has looked to the Aug. 8-24 Olympics as a way to recast China as a friendly, modern power. Too rough a crackdown could put that at risk, while balking could embolden protesters, costing Beijing authority in often-restive Tibet.

We’ll try to keep updating as the day progresses. Several commentators have left links below for photographs of the unrest in Lhasa. China Digital Times is also posting updates and information as they become available.

FRIDAY POST
From the NYT:

Chinese security forces were reportedly surrounding three monasteries outside Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, on Thursday after hundreds of monks took to the streets this week in what are believed to be the largest Tibetan protests against Chinese rule in two decades.

The turmoil in Lhasa occurred at a politically delicate time for China, which is facing increasing criticism over its human rights record as it prepares to play host to the Olympic Games in August and is seeking to appear harmonious to the outside world.

Beijing has kept a tight lid on dissent before the Games. But people with grievances against the governing Communist Party have tried to promote their causes when top officials may be wary of cracking down by using force.

Qin Gang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, confirmed Thursday that protests had erupted in Lhasa, but declined to provide details. He described the situation as stable.

Retuers also reports, citing sources who contacted the London-based Campaign for a Free Tibet, of other demonstrations being suppressed in ethnic Tibetan areas in Qinghai and Gansu:

Another rights group said about 400 monks from Lutsang monastery in the northwestern province of Qinghai, known in Tibetan as Amdo, protested on Monday and shouted slogans for their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to return.

About 100 monks from Myera monastery in the neighboring province of Gansu also protested on Monday, the rights group said, adding that police were investigating who was involved.

A source with knowledge of the protests quoted monks and witnesses as saying the sound of gunfire was heard outside the walls of monasteries. But no casualties have been reported.

The Christian Science Monitor has a reporter on the ground in Lhasa:

On most nights, Barkhor Square is full of ancient-looking pilgrims on a Buddhist kora around Jokhand temple, a 1,400-year old World Heritage Site.

But last Tuesday around 9 p.m., it was unusually quiet when about 30 police officers wearing riot helmets sped into the cobblestone streets in vehicles resembling golf buggies. In front of a few foreign tourists, the police grabbed two young men in street clothes, put them in headlocks, and hauled them away to a nearby police station…

In Barkhor Square, police officers shooed the group of foreign tourists out of the square and back to their hotels. The officers were smiling, as if this was for the foreigners’ safety. Clearly, something was going on in the latest hot spot of Asian tourism.

A young European backpacker, gasping for breath in Lhasa’s 3,650-meter altitude, came running into a hotel looking for an Internet connection.

“There’s a big protest going on in the road to Sera monastery,” he said. “There are hundreds of people in the street, howling like wolves. They look like local people and they’re angry because the police have arrested some monks. I didn’t see them fighting with police. It didn’t look violent. The police chased some of them into small alleys to arrest them.”

The tourist said police picked up him and other foreigners, questioned them, and escorted them to the hotel district in unmarked cars, warning them to stay inside. The backpackers sent out personal reports on the Internet, even as uniformed police and men believed to be spies stood outside cafes watching them.

This follows other news this week that Indian authorities have blocked Tibetan demonstrators who planned a march to the Chinese border, and reports that the Chinese government is restricting access to Mt. Everest this year, a move widely seen as a response to an incident last year when a pro-Tibetan independence banner was displayed on the summit of the world’s highest peak.

Not sure what the whole story is here, and I’m sure there is much more to it, from both sides, than what we know so far, but it’s a situation that certainly bears watching.

This might also be a good time to pull one from the vault, be sure to check out Dave at The Mutant Palm’s April, 2007 post: “Free Advice for the Free Tibet crowd.”

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Reminders for posting on Peking Duck

Can everyone please remember the following when posting in regards to formatting.

1. Do not post whole URL links. Unless they’re incredibly short they distort the blog entries and stretch them out. Use tinyurl to reduce your links before posting.

2. Do not post blocks of Chinese text as that does the same thing. Please put phrases on alternate lines.

This saves us a lot of time, as otherwise we have to hunt around comments for things to amend. If you make a mistake send an e-mail to richard detailing where the post is – then he can take a look.

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New Thread

And that’s the best I can do for now. Working late.

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Evil Beijing Landlords

My apartment lease expires on July 27, more than four months from now, so I was quite surprised to get the following note last week from the real estate agent who found me the place:

Dear Richard,

How are you doing?

The landlord keeps calling me these days, he wishes to increase the rental. As per the agreement signed last year is 18 months’ one, so I just simple told him that he does not have the right to increase the rental every time he mentioned the increase to me.

However, the landlord still insists on it, and would like to arrange a meeting with you to talk about the issue. It seems that if no agreement is reached, he may break the lease and pay the compensation to you.

Please let me know what your thoughts are.

Yours sincerely
[name]
Property consultant

The landlord “insists” on raising my rent. Well, we have a signed contract, just like the one I have with my company. Can I insist they raise my pay? Anyway, I basically told the agent to bugger off:

Dear Richard,

I fully understand your point.

As the Olympics is approaching, the rental at [name of my building] is increasing, the rental for the size of your apartment can be leased at RMB7,000-8,000/mth, which definitely tempts the landlord to increase the rental.

I really suggest that you and landlord meet with each other sometime late afternoon to further talk about it, it should be benefit.

Ah, so now we know what it’s all about. The landlord sees dollar signs (or RMB signs). He’s already making a fortune off of my bloated rent, but he could make even more. When I told her the landlord could take me to court, she replied with the landlord’s sob story.

Hi Richard,

I agree with your point of view and have tried to convince the landlord that he should follow the terms in the agreement.

To keep you updated, here is his response when I spoke to him today:
————————————————
-with the increasing interest of the loan, the current rental can not even cover the loans not tell benefit, it is high pressure for him;
-the inflation is very high here, hope you could understand it;
-would like to talk about lease renewal after solving the current issue.
————————————————

My response:

We have a signed contract that cannot be changed without the consent of both parties. I would prefer not to meet about this, thanks. We had an agreement that you helped arrange. I appreciate that, and expect our agreement to be kept, no matter how greedy the landlord might be.

This has nothing to do with inflation, by the way – he is greedy. The inflation rate in Beijing is at 8.5 percent, so an 8.5 percent increase might be fair, or even 10 percent, to help him to deal with it. But inflation affects you and me too – I do not ask for a raise because of inflation. That only creates more inflation.

The melodrama is unresolved. The greedy, fat landlord with his Patek Phillipe watch and Zegna suit – the poor guy who’s being so devastated by the rising price of pork and cooking oil – is beginning to understand I won’t budge. I also suspect that when July comes around he will double my rent, and I will need to find a new place. So I’m starting my search now and will move out as soon as i find another place. Any suggestions?

All landlords are evil. It’s just that here some of them wear their evil on their sleeve. To hell with the lot of them.

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China’s New Intelligentsia

This article is truly interesting, and offers viewpoints guaranteed to infuriate just about everybody. One thing it drives home is China’s growing influence, which is a matter of fact. Which does not mean it is good – it just is.

As I read it, I kept thinking of a startling conversation I had just this week with a well known journalist. We weres talking about a common discussion topic here, the difficulty of finding native Chinese mid-level managers who can make important decisions alone and unaided, and who can be counted on to manage global projects. This reporter stunned me with his simple but incredibly bold suggestion: that China’s managers would not increasingly emulate the Western manager’s qualities of independent thinking, willingness to accept a degree of risk and striving always to “think outside the box.” Instead, he said, managers elsewhere in the world would slowly, almost by osmosis start to conform to the Chinese do-as-your-told-and-never-ask-questions model. In other words, China will not rise to Western standards, but the West will sink to Chinese standards (at least when it comes to middle managers). That is the power of China’s gravity, which will transform everything within range – or so this journalist said.

I have to reject this argument, if only because the success of so many Western enterprises is built precisely on these qualities of independent thinking and challenging the status quo – and China knows it. However, that image of China’s gravity affecting everything around it is a powerful one, and the article linked above offers some stunning examples. Such as:

In 2005 when there was a debate about enlarging the UN security council, China encouraged African countries to demand their own seat, which effectively killed off Japan’s bid for a permanent seat. Equally, Beijing has been willing to allow the Organisation of Islamic States to take the lead in weakening the new UN human rights council. This diplomacy has been effective – contributing to a big fall in US influence: in 1995 the US won 50.6 per cent of the votes in the UN general assembly; by 2006, the figure had fallen to just 23.6 per cent. On human rights, the results are even more dramatic: China’s win-rate has rocketed from 43 per cent to 82 per cent, while the US’s has tumbled from 57 per cent to 22 per cent.”

Well it’s food for thought, anyway. No matter what you may think of China, its influence and effects on the rest of the world are undeniable. For better or for worse. The article’s last paragraph will certainly evoke the greatest outrage, but it’s important that it be read within the context of the whole. This isn’t just another wide-eyed Westerner breathlessly repeating the “China is rising while the US is falling” mantra. Here goes:

China is not an intellectually open society. But the emergence of freer political debate, the throng of returning students from the west and huge international events like the Olympics are making it more so. And it is so big, so pragmatic and so desperate to succeed that its leaders are constantly experimenting with new ways of doing things. They used special economic zones to test out a market philosophy. Now they are testing a thousand other ideas – from deliberative democracy to regional alliances. From this laboratory of social experiments, a new world-view is emerging that may in time crystallise into a recognisable Chinese model – an alternative, non-western path for the rest of the world to follow.

The part about testing out new ways of doing things is true enough. But the picture still seems to me too rosy. Especially since the author sidesteps some of the most obvious issues that could keep China’s influence limited, if not generate widespread and devastating catastrophe. Things like environmental degradation. Read it anyway; it’ll certainly make you stop and think.

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Thread

As some of you may have noticed, I am completely out to lunch this week. May resurface at some point on the weekend, if I’m lucky. You can chat here,

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CCP Official Wang Lequan: “Terrorists targeted Beijing Olympics.”

Wang Lequan, the top CCP official in Xinjiang, spoke Sunday regarding the January 27 raid on a suspected Uighur terrorist cell in Urumqi:

AP:

BEIJING – Police captured and killed alleged terrorists plotting attacks targeting this year’s Beijing Olympics, a Chinese official said Sunday.

Wang Lequan, the top Communist Party official in the western region of Xinjiang, said materials seized in a Jan. 27 raid in the regional capital, Urumqi, had stated the plot’s purpose as “specifically to sabotage the staging of the Beijing Olympics.”

“Their goal was very clear,” Wang told reporters in Beijing.

Wang mentioned the raid during a meeting on the sidelines of the parliament’s annual session but provided few specifics.

China has been fighting a simmering insurgency amongst Muslim separatists from the Xinjiang region’s Uighur population.

Dave at the Mutant Palm has an excellent overview of Chinese media coverage of the raid which I strongly urge everybody to read in its entirety before commenting.

It’s certainly a situation that bears watching, both for what happens and how such incidents are reported in the Chinese and foreign press.

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Lethal karaoke

Yes, we all have karaoke stories we can share, some of them ranging from the hilarious to the depressing. But nothing like this. A horrifying story, but told in way that is grimly (and perhaps inappropriately) amusing.

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Best, biggest blogger dinner yet

There were lots of new faces at last night’s dinner at Ritan Park’s Xiao Wang Fu and the group totaled 26, a new record. The first get-together I ever held back in 2003 boasted seven participants (get a load of that photo). The last one, which must have been nearly a year ago, saw about 22 faces.

Jeremiah did most of the work inviting people because I was mostly out of commission and it was a great group of bloggers, journalists and China hands. (I couldn’t get everyone’s name, so if you want to introduce yourselves and your blogs in the comments it would be great). Unlike the last few dinners, there were no moments when you got the uneasy feeling a fist-fight was about to begin. Just lots of intelligent conversation and good food.

My two “complaints” about last night: I thought the food was great but a little pricey. And I didn’t think of asking anyone to take photos. These things should be documented for the historical archives.

Huge thanks to everyone who made it there, and especially to Jeremiah for suggesting the dinner in the first place and handling the invites and RSVPs. Shulan, after enjoying your comments on this blog since 2003, it was great to finally meet you. To everyone who couldn’t make it, we’ll try to give you a little more notice next time. Thanks again for a memorable night.

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