Friday, March 21, 2008

Reporting with Chinese Characteristics

The Chinese state media are going into overdrive with their reporting on the Tibet situation.

Radio and television broadcasts, and newspapers are giving extensive coverage, focusing on the impact of the unrest on the Han Chinese.

"The riots in Lhasa last Friday are the most serious incident in the region for decades. Local residents are still reeling from the aftershock even as they try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives," starts one story.

There are pictures and footage showing Tibetans attacking Han Chinese, or Tibetans damaging shops, but no images of Chinese soldiers shooting Tibetans "in self-defense".

Another lead says: "Violence has resulted in heavy toll in lives [sic] and property. Statistics indicate 13 civilians were burned or stabbed to death".

If there were only 13 people killed, how does that compare to over 150 lives lost during the recent snowstorms, partly caused by the government's own missteps?

Premier Wen Jiabao claims he has evidence proving the Dalai Lama is the mastermind behind the riots. But so far the Chinese government has not revealed what this evidence is, instead only constantly denouncing His Holiness as a "splittist".

What's more -- government officials and Chinese media are complaining foreign media reports are biased.

And because the majority of the Chinese population don't know the true history behind China's forceful claim over Tibet and don't realize how badly these nomads are treated by the government, there is hardly any sympathy for Tibetans.

They only think these people are ungrateful for what the Chinese government has done, helping them evolve from their nomadic lifestyle, giving them education and healthcare.

But as the unrest continues, it shows Tibetans are extremely frustrated, feeling like they are second-class citizens in their own homeland and are determined to show the Chinese government how angry they are.

However the chances of the government backing down and giving some concessions, or even speaking to the Dalai Lama are highly unlikely. With soldiers and police kicking out foreigners "for their own safety", one worries if a bloody crackdown may happen soon.

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