I Was There!

My recent trip to Tibet was a bit of a rush and, unfortunately, I didn’t get to see as much of the land as I wanted. Still, I was completely moved by the Tibetan people’s religious fervor and devotion, as well as their ability to survive in such a harsh environment. They were friendly and curious about us, as we were of them.

The train that now links greater China with Tibet is controversial, allowing better access for thousands of Han Chinese. The Tibetans fear dilution of their fragile culture. I don’t think this fear is unwarranted. Our own experience of Lhasa is clouded by the fact it was Tibetan New Year, and many Tibetan pilgrims had poured into the city. The view of Lhasa we received was one of a Tibetan city, full of Tibetans, with a sprinkling of Han. (It was also Chinese New Year, so many shops & restaurants run by Han were also closed.) Turns out that Lhasa is full of Han Chinese, and the Tibetan majority is dwindling.

The Chinese “peacefully liberated” Tibet in the 1950s, whether the Tibetans wanted it or not. Their policies today continue along this line. Foreign Policy’s blog Passport reports this week a story on forced relocations of many rural Tibetans into socialist villages, often along highways. When I saw the pictures, I was shocked. These are the very villages I passed on my trip to and from the Yarlung Valley. I kept thinking how tidy and new they were – how very much alike they all were. Visit the Passport site to read a short passage on the “Comfortable Housing Program” story, (love those communist euphemisms) and visit McClatchy for journalist Tim Johnson’s narrated slideshow of his undercover visit to the area.


As always, there is more than one side to this story… Thanks to a comment I received, I read a bit more about Tim Johnson’s story and the relocation issue. According to a few other websites, Mr. Johnson may not have accurately portrayed the details of the relocations. If you are interested in reading some more visit these two sites:

On Boing Boing and Mutant Palm 

Thanks to tddn for the tip!


2 Responses to “I Was There!”

  1. tddn Says:

    Maybe you should read these two blog posts too.




    It appears that Tim Johnson isnt that a credible journalist.

  2. global gal Says:

    Please see the post for an update. Thanks for the tip. I really didn’t read anything beyond the FP Passport post and the slideshow. (I admit I didn’t read Tim’s story, just the slideshow.) A reminder to be a bit more diligent in research. Very interesting stuff!

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