Shops in Lhasa

Some newspapers today are carrying photos of burned-out shops in Barkhor Square, Lhasa.

This is what they looked like last November. Many businesses in Tibet are owned by ethnic Han Chinese, and it appears that much of the rioting was directed by Tibetans against these businesses.

It’s symptomatic of a profound cultural difference between the two societies. Tibetan culture was deeply religious, spiritual, largely nomadic and agricultural. Chinese culture, as I saw here and elsewhere, is materialistic, industrial, and increasingly entrepreneurial. I’m not criticising China or its people here – I loved it, liked the people and their hospitality, and I was hugely impressed by its achievements. I’m saying that Tibet is different. If the Dalai Lama says that he’s not arguing for independence, but does want more autonomy, who am I to disagree?

About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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2 Responses to Shops in Lhasa

  1. Tommaso Gervasutti says:

    I don’t want to say I hate the Chinese government but when I think of Tienanmen 1989 ( and the Chinese have never hinted at a public atonement for that ) I am simply horrified and angry thinking of their presence and violence in Tibet, it’s simply oppression.And what is worse is their also a bit stupid lie of accusing the Dalai Lama of fomenting the violence.The whole world should be much more severe with the Chinese government, but The World thinks mainly of BUSINESS.Best wishes, Davide

  2. Colin Will says:

    Thanks Davide. It’s a complicated issue. Tibet has been part of China since the Manchu conquest of 1644. Its existence as an ‘independent’ country lasted only for a period of 40 years, from 1911 to 1950. The present Chinese government calls Tibet an Autonomous Region, but I doubt if it has the same devolved powers in real terms as, say, Scotland has from the United Kingdom.

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