(TibetanReview.net, Jul06, 2015) – The Chinese government ensures that foreign visitors to Tibet, especially journalists sponsored and taken around by it, see and hear only what it wants them to in order to create a positive impression of its rule. A Hindustan Times reporters who was a member of a group of Indian journalists taken on a tour sponsored by the Chinese government reported Jul 5 that the guides working at the Potala palace, including the one provided to the group by the Chinese government, did not speak a word of English.
The purpose, the journalist has speculated, was “to deliberately add to its enduring mystery and exotic quotient – or maybe to control communication between locals and foreigners.”
The reporter found fire-fighters from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at every turn and corner of the Tibetan capital Lhasa, in which the 13-storey primary residence of the Dalai Lamas stands, keeping a close watch on the tourists, guiding them and sternly stopping them from taking a turn to the parts that are out of bounds.
“They are deployed to prevent fires from the butter-lamps,” the report carried by the hindustantimes.com website quoted an official from the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) as saying blankly. It said the official determinedly brushed aside any reference to the nearly 140 cases of self-immolations that ethnic Tibetans had carried out in recent years against Chinese government policies.
On the other hand, the guide and the official handler were reported to relish narrating stories about Potala Palace intrigues, how many Dalai Lamas died young and mysteriously and – parroting government handouts – how benign Beijing was in developing TAR because the Tibetans needed development.
The reporter found signs of Chinese immigrants’ dominance over the local Tibetans everywhere, including with signs in Chinese on shops drowning out the Tibetan script. “On any given sign board, the Chinese signs were bigger and bolder,” the report added.
Driving along the shop-lined street leading to the Jokhang temple, uniformed personnel kept a watch and foreigners talking to locals immediately attracted their attention, the report said.
A Tibetan taxi driver, on being asked, has replied that Tibetans would celebrate the 80th birthday of Tibet’s exile spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Jul 6 only “privately”.
However, a Chinese government official travelling with the group of Indian journalists has repeatedly said, when asked about the exiled spiritual leader: “Dalai Lama? No one here cares about the Dalai Lama. The younger generation (of Tibetans) do not know him. They are more interested in development and doing well in life.”
And he has added: “What does the West know about Tibet? There are only separatists who create problem.”
The report said Chinese government officials accused the Dalai Lama of having “incited” the incidents of self-immolations. “The 14th Dalai group’s action at the expense of other lives for political intrigue is absolutely against human conscience and morality. Their evil actions will not only fail but also must be severely condemned and resisted,” the report quoted the Chinese government as saying.
The Chinese will consider their sponsorship of the Indian media group at least partially successful, given the fact that the IANS news agency carried a lengthy, entirely uncritical Jul 3 report on claims by Wu Yinggjie, the first deputy secretary of the Communist Party of TAR committee, that regional autonomy had been fully guaranteed in the TAR and that “the people of all the ethnic groups in the area” were enjoying economic growth and prosperity.