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Cablegate: Tibet: Mfa Organizes Tightly Controlled Trip To

VZCZCXRO8966
OO RUEHAG RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHROV RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #1210/01 0911303
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 311303Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6186
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM PRIORITY 0368
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 8974
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE PRIORITY 9347
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 08 BEIJING 001210

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2028
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KIRF NP IN JA BR GM CA IT
SP, SI, SL, TZ, UK, AU, FR, RS, CH
SUBJECT: TIBET: MFA ORGANIZES TIGHTLY CONTROLLED TRIP TO
LHASA FOR DIPLOMATS, MARCH 28-29

REF: BEIJING 975

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Dan Piccuta.
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

Summary
-------

1. (C) With less than 24-hours notice to participating
Embassies, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
together with the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR)
Government, organized an overnight trip to Lhasa March
28 to 29. Fifteen Beijing-based diplomats, including
PolOff, participated. Diplomats were shown destroyed
shops, a burnt school building and two hospitals
treating wounded security officers and civilians. The
trip was tightly controlled and Chinese journalists
were present at nearly all meetings. PolOff observed
extensive damage to shops starting two to three blocks
east of the Potala Palace and increasing in areas
closer to the Tibetan quarter. TAR officials sought
to demonstrate that both Han and Tibetans had suffered
as a result of the violence and rioting. While PolOff
saw a significant presence of regular police, there
was a noticeable absence of military vehicles or anti-
riot equipment. The delegation met with TAR Chairman
Qiangba Puncog. At the meeting with Qiangba Puncog,
diplomats pressed for details about the number of dead
and the charges against those currently under
detention. PolOff urged China to exercise restraint
and engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai
Lama's representatives. PolOff also repeated to the
TAR Chairman the USG's request for unfettered access
for diplomats to all Tibetan areas.

2. (C) Summary continued. In response to the
diplomatic delegation's collective request to visit
the Jokhang Temple and speak with monks involved in a
March 27 demonstration in front of an MFA-led group of
foreign journalists, MFA and TAR officials arranged a
hasty visit to Barkhor Square and the Jokhang on the
morning of March 29. Diplomats met with a single
monk, who said all of his colleagues were "sleeping"
and thus "unavailable" to meet with the delegation.
The Barkhor area was almost devoid of people, save for
security attached to the delegation. Organizers
denied PolOff's requests to venture into the city to
meet with Amcits, but PolOff was given the opportunity
to meet with one Amcit at the delegation's hotel.
Government organizers also arranged for foreign
residents of Lhasa, including two American NGO
workers, to attend a briefing with Tibetan scholars
and Buddhist figures, where PolOff was able to speak
with them. The foreign residents were mainly chosen
by the TAR Government, however, not the participating
diplomats. Comment: Although some of the events on
this trip were crudely stage-managed, it is clear that
Lhasa has suffered widespread ethnic-based violence
and rioting. A large percentage of the population,
Han and Tibetan, have suffered great economic loss,
both from the rioting itself and the cancellation of
tour groups. Interlocutors' complete lack of candor
about the underlying social factors contributing to
the riots, while not unexpected, was disturbing
nonetheless. End Summary.

"We Leave For Lhasa Tomorrow"
-----------------------------

3. (C) Ministry of Foreign Affairs U.S. Affairs
Division Director An Gang told PolOff March 27 that
the MFA's Department of External Security Affairs, in
cooperation with the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)
Foreign Affairs Office (FAO), was organizing a trip for
foreign diplomats to Lhasa, leaving the next morning,
March 28. Embassy Beijing was given one hour by the
MFA to register a participant for the trip, which
would involve a total of 25 hours on the ground in
Lhasa. In addition to U.S. Embassy Beijing, the
Beijing Embassies/Missions of Brazil, Japan, Germany,
Canada, the European Commission, Italy, Spain,
Slovenia (as EU President), Singapore, Tanzania (as
Africa Union President), the United Kingdom,
Australia, France and Russia also sent

BEIJING 00001210 002 OF 008


representatives. At 17:00 on March 27, participating
diplomats were called to a briefing presided over by
Vice Foreign Minister (VFM) Wu Dawei. VFM Wu told the
group that the MFA was organizing the trip so that
diplomats could provide "more correct reports" on the
situation in Lhasa and Tibet to their respective
capitals. VFM Wu offered no details about the
itinerary, other than the TAR FAO would provide the
schedule to the delegation upon arrival in Lhasa. VFM
Wu also said that, although the situation in Lhasa was
"generally stable," for safety reasons everyone must
abide by the "arrangements" set by the MFA and the TAR
Government. PolOff told VFM Wu that AmEmbassy Beijing
viewed the trip, and a similar trip organized the same
week for foreign journalists, as a "first step" but
reiterated the USG's request that diplomats and
journalists have free and unfettered access to all
Tibetan areas affected by recent unrest.

Chinese Media Presence
----------------------

4. (C) In addition to numerous minders from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, plain-clothes security
personnel and the TAR FAO, at least two Xinhua print
journalists and a China Central Television (CCTV)
journalist and cameraman accompanied the delegation.
CCTV crews filmed most events on the trip, including
the arrival and departure at Lhasa airport. Xinhua
News Agency quoted accurately, though selectively,
some delegation member's positive comments about the
trip, particularly a statement by Tanzanian Minister
George Manongi (representing the African Union) that
"no government would tolerate" violent protests.

Security Presence Observed in Lhasa
-----------------------------------

5. (C) The delegation's motorcade included both police
and People's Armed Police (PAP) escorts. (Plate
numbers for PAP vehicles seen by PolOff, including
those attached to the motorcade, all started with WJ
23.) The airport road appeared to be open to other
traffic during the delegation's arrival and departure
from Lhasa. PolOff saw at least two groups of
Tibetans picnicking very close to the road. As the
motorcade neared Lhasa proper, PolOff saw numerous PRC
flags flying over Tibetan-style homes. At nearly
every intersection where village roads met the main
airport road, a single officer was stationed with his
or her back to the motorcade, looking down the
approaching roadway. PolOff observed no checkpoints
at any point on the trip except for one on the airport
road that appeared little different from a normal
traffic police checkpoint.

6. (C) The security presence in Lhasa was noticeable
and significantly larger than that observed by PolOff
during a visit to Lhasa with ConGen Chengdu officers
February 26-29, 2008. At least one police vehicle
(mainly sedans and SUVs) and one to three officers
were seen at most intersections. Police officers were
mainly sitting in, or standing next to, their vehicles
rather than walking the streets. At one point, PolOff
saw several police poke their heads out of a police
station doorway to watch the motorcade pass by.
PolOff saw only scattered PAP vehicles other than
those attached to the delegation. PolOff observed no
officers in riot gear, nor did he see any heavier
police vehicles such as water cannon trucks. During a
visit to the Jokhang Temple March 29, some diplomats
reported seeing a few helmeted police in side streets
leading off Barkhor Square. Over the course of the
trip, PolOff saw three canvas-covered military
transport trucks; one had its plates covered, the
other two were without plates entirely. (Note: An
Amcit resident (protect) told PolOff that a large
number of security forces remained in Lhasa but they
had been confined to compounds during the Government-
organized visits that week by foreign journalists and
diplomats. A TAR FAO minder told delegation members
that no PLA assets were used to suppress the March 14
riots.)


BEIJING 00001210 003 OF 008


Fewer People onStreets
-----------------------

7. (C) At est, PolOff observed pedestrian traffic at
a tir of the level it was in late February, thoug
in some areas it was much less. During te late
afternoon of March 28, PolOff observedfewer than ten
Tibetan pilgrims with prayer weels walking in front
of the Potala Palace. Te next day, March 29, PolOff
observed well over a hundred pilgrims walking on the
Potala circumambulation route. During this second
drive-by, a TAR FAO minder highlighted the presence of
the pilgrims to PolOff. In contrast to February, when
pilgrims of various ages and dress could be seen in
Lhasa, the pilgrims observed during this visit, in
addition to being fewer in number, also appeared to be
primarily elderly Tibetans. Also, areas in the
Tibetan quarter that were packed with pilgrims in
February looked nearly abandoned. One street near the
Ramoche Temple was blocked by a police cordon, and
behind this barrier, PolOff could see few, if any,
people. From the motorcade on Beijing East Road
looking into the Barkhor area, PolOff also saw streets
that were nearly devoid of people. Diplomats who
participated in a March 29 stop at the Jokhang Temple
reported that the streets in the Barkhor district were
practically abandoned.

Arrival and Visit to Affected Areas
-----------------------------------

8. (C) Immediately upon arrival in Lhasa on March 28,
organizers took the delegation to a clothing store on
Beijing Middle Road where four Han and one Tibetan
shopkeeper had been killed. As the delegation pulled
up to the store, the Han Chinese owner and a surviving
Tibetan shop assistant were kneeling before a memorial
altar set up in the burnt-out shop. Shortly after the
delegation's arrival, they emerged to speak with
diplomats as television cameras rolled. Next, the
delegation was led on a driving tour of Beijing Road,
Qingnian Road, and North and East Linkuo Road to view
damaged businesses and homes. TAR FAO interpreters
pointed out damage to Xinhua News Agency offices, the
Tibet Daily and a Bank of China branch. An FAO minder
also pointed out that a local television station and
stores carrying mobile phones, foreign-branded goods
and precious gems had been specifically target by
rioters/looters.

Visit to Damaged School
-----------------------

9. (C) The delegation was then taken to Lhasa Second
Middle School where an entire classroom building had
been gutted by fire. The Tibetan principal of the
school described the efforts of staff to protect the
children on March 14 and how rioters had allegedly set
fire to the building and then blocked fire trucks from
arriving on the scene. The fire also consumed many of
the schools' textbooks, she said. According to the
principal, 80 percent of the school's 839 students are
ethnic Tibetan, in keeping with the population of the
surrounding neighborhood. The teaching staff was 90
percent Tibetan. In addition to standard Mandarin
Chinese curriculum taught in China, students at Lhasa
Second Middle School receive 280 minutes of Tibetan
and 200 minutes of English instruction per week.
Diplomats then observed primary school students taking
a history lesson in a science lab that had been
converted into an ordinary classroom since the March
14 fire. At the back of the classroom was a display
condemning the March 14 riots. An FAO handler
remarked to a delegation member that the "lawbreakers
do not want to see good schools and the development of
society."

Extent of Damage
----------------

10. (C) Judging by the very limited tour given to the
diplomats, the area of Lhasa west of the Potala Palace
seemed unaffected by the rioting. Individual burned
out stores could be seen starting two to three blocks

BEIJING 00001210 004 OF 008


east of the Potala, with the ratio of damaged to
undamaged shops increasing as one neared the Ramoche
Temple/Barkhor area. At some points along Beijing
East and Lingkhor North and East Roads, entire rows of
shops had been burned or damaged. On Beijing East
Road, PolOff saw that the (Nepali/Tibetan operated)
Kyichu Hotel had only a single broken window while the
neighboring six shops, by contrast, including a Han-
run sunglass store visited by PolOff in February, had
been completely burned out. Despite extensive damage
to stores, all roads were clean, and PolOff saw little
debris on sidewalks. In the areas east of the Potala
Palace, about a third of stores remained shuttered,
making it difficult to assess whether shops were
damaged or just closed. For every store that was
burned out, at least ten others showed signs of damage
to the metal rolling shutter or broken windows. All
over Lhasa, PolOff saw white katas (Tibetan greeting
scarves) affixed to storefronts, an indication that
the store is Tibetan-owned (reftel).

Meeting with TAR Chairman
-------------------------

11. (SBU) Following the tour and check-in at the Lhasa
Hotel (in a largely unaffected area of west Lhasa) on
the evening of March 28, the delegation arrived at the
TAR Government compound for a meeting with TAR
Chairman Qiangba Puncog and a large contingent of
high-level TAR officials, including the Mayor of Lhasa
Doje Cezhug. (Note: As TAR Chairman, Qiangba Puncog
is equivalent to a provincial governor and is ranked
behind the top PRC official in Tibet, TAR Party
Chairman Zhang Qingli.) After introductions and
before Qiangba Puncog could read his prepared report,
the Slovenian Counselor, Bernard Srajner asked the TAR
Chairman a series of questions prepared in advance by
the EU participants. A summary of the EU questions
and Qiangba Puncog's answers (both in his prepared
remarks and response to follow up questions) follows:

--What is the fate of 13 people arrested in a
demonstration on March 10? The TAR Chairman said 15
people (13 monks and 2 lay people) had participated in
the March 10 demonstration in Lhasa, which included
raising the "snow mountain flag." The thirteen monks
are among 303 total people detained, but Qiangba
Puncog gave no additional information on what the 13
monks were charged with. (Note: The figure of 303
detained appeared to be a figure for detainees related
to demonstrations prior to March 14.)

--What happened in the first 24 hours of March 14?
Why did security forces "hold back" at first?
Qiangba Puncog repeated a standard Government version
of events, saying the March 14 "beating, smashing,
looting, and burning" incident had been "masterminded"
by the Dalai Lama clique in an attempt to sabotage the
Olypics. Police and PAP officers had exercised
estraint. Government forces had not used fireams,
though authorities confiscated some "lead bullet" guns
from some rioters. (Comment: The term "lead bullet"
guns seemed to indicate non-police, makeshift
firearms.) The TAR Chairman said the TAR Government
had failed to protect civilians, and he apologized to
victims in the hospitals.

--How many people were killed and injured? The TAR
Chairman repeated published casualty figures. He said
382 innocent civilians had been injured, 58 seriously.
Eighteen "innocent civilians" had been killed,
including an infant below the age of one. In
addition, one police officer and three rioters were
killed. Seven schools, 5 hospitals, 908 shops and 120
private residences had been damaged with total losses
amounting to RMB 250 million ($36 million).

--What is the nature of charges against detainees?
Will independent observers be allowed at trials? As a
result of the March 14 riot, 414 people had been
detained. An additional 289 had turned themselves in,
although 111 of these people had already been released
because their crimes were "minor." Qiangba Puncog
said PRC law prohibits splittism. Defendants will be

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charged not for their views, but for their "public
actions." All cases will be dealt with according to
law. Some who committed "small crimes" will be
released but the more "serious" cases will go to
trial. All defendants will have access to legal
counsel, including legal aid for those who have no
money to afford a defense attorney. (Note: While
Qiangba Puncog did not directly answer the question
about outside observers, the Canadian participant said
the head of the TAR Justice Department (si fa ting)
later told her at a banquet immediately afterward that
outside observers would not be possible.)

--What has happened to monks who demonstrated at the
Jokhang Temple in front of visiting journalists?
Qiangba Puncog characterized the incident as an
example of "Government tolerance." It was "natural"
for some people to have different views, and the monks
will not be punished, he said. The Australian
participant, in a follow-up question, asked for a
visit to the Jokhang Temple to speak with the monks
involved in the incident. The Chairman said TAR
authorities would consider adding a Jokhang visit to
the schedule. (Note: A hastily arranged visit to the
Jokhang was arranged the next morning, as reported
below.)

"We Are Already Restrained and Non-Violent"
-------------------------------------------

12. (C) During the meeting with the TAR Chairman,
PolOff stated USG points regarding the need for China
to exercise restraint and for all sides to refrain
from violence. China should respect the legal rights
of peaceful protestors and enter substantive dialogue
with representatives of the Dalai Lama. PolOff ended
by saying, while the current trip was a positive step
in the right direction, the USG still seeks unfettered
access for diplomats to all Tibetan areas, inside and
outside the TAR. More and better access was in the
interests of all sides, PolOff said. Qiangba Puncog
responded that he already understood the U.S. position
and that Chinese President Hu Jintao had already
discussed the Tibet situation directly with President
Bush. China is "already exercising restraint and
refraining from violence," so such calls are unnecessary.
It was because of this restraint, including no use of
lethal weapons by security forces, that the riot took
so long to get under control. The TAR Government places
great importance on the visit by diplomats, Qiangba
Puncog said, urging delegation members to report the
"real situation" to their respective "highest leaders."

13. (SBU) Qiangba Puncog also defended China's economic
and religious policies in Tibet. The TAR Governor
highlighted a string of new measures, announced the
following day in TAR newspapers, designed to provide
economic relief to victims of the rioting. He noted
that Tibet was experiencing high growth rates and
rising income, thanks in no small part to Central
Government support. Prices were stable in the TAR
following the unrest, he asserted. There was no need
to adjust Government policies regarding religion, he
said. After the meeting, Qiangba Puncog hosted a
banquet for the delegation, followed by the screening
of a documentary film on the March 14 riots.

Meeting with U.S. Citizens
--------------------------

14. (C) PolOff requested that, instead of watching the
documentary on March 28, he be allowed to go out on
his own to visit with American citizens in Lhasa.
Several other diplomats also requested time to meet
with their citizens in lieu of the film. The TAR FAO
agreed to excuse PolOff and other diplomats from the
film, but only on condition that meetings with
citizens take place at the Lhasa Hotel. PolOff was
told he could not venture outside of the hotel "for
safety reasons." PolOff contacted three Amcits. Two
noted that foreigners were still instructed to stay
indoors at night, making a 21:00 meeting at the hotel
impractical. One Amcit, a long-term Lhasa resident
who lives close to the hotel, agreed to visit with

BEIJING 00001210 006 OF 008


PolOff in the hotel lobby. (Note: The Amcit reported
that he was fine, though some money had been looted
from one of his downtown Lhasa shops, which had also
been sprayed by gunfire. The Amcit also noted that
tension in the city between ethnic Tibetans and Han
remains.)

15. (C) Delegation members were given a second chance
to meet with their respective citizens, though trip
organizers, not the diplomats, controlled who was
invited. During the pre-trip briefing with VFM Wu
Dawei, several diplomats requested that they be given
a chance to meet with their respective citizens in
Lhasa. VFM Wu said such meetings would likely be
possible but had to take place at the delegation's
hotel. Some Embassies, but not the United States,
provided contact information for their citizens in
Lhasa to the MFA to facilitate meetings. The TAR FAO,
in response to this request, then apparently invited
about ten foreign residents to attend the final
meeting of the trip March 29, a briefing by TAR
scholars and official religious figures. The
delegation was not provided with any name list prior
to the meeting. Upon arrival, PolOff learned that two
Amcit NGO workers, one of whom had declined an
invitation to meet PolOff at the hotel the previous
evening, were present. The foreign residents mainly
sat and listened as the Tibetan scholars denounced the
Dalai Lama. PolOff asked that the meeting be cut
short to allow time for individual discussions with
citizens. One of the Amcits told PolOff his
organization's "local partner" had encouraged him to
attend the meeting, which he did for the sake of
maintaining cooperative relations. The other, the
Tibet director for a multi-national environmental NGO,
indicated that his boss at the NGO had requested that
he attend. PolOff told both that they were under no
obligation to meet with USG officials. However, both
voluntarily met with PolOff for about 15 minutes each.
(Note: Both Amcits reported that they were fine and
that, after being unable to venture outside for four
days following the March 14 riots, things in Lhasa
were now beginning to return to normal.) Other
diplomats later complained that citizens whom they had
requested that the MFA/TAR FAO invite were not
contacted.

Visit to Jokhang Temple, "Monks are Sleeping"
---------------------------------------------

16. (C) Around 01:00 March 29, all delegation members,
except PolOff, received calls in their hotel rooms
that the start time for the next morning had been
moved up from 08:30 to 08:00. According to the
Australian participant, when delegation members
boarded the vans just before 08:00, organizers told
them there had been a "change in the schedule" but
offered no details. As the motorcade departed just
prior to 08:00, several delegation members noted the
absence of some of the diplomats and requested that
the motorcade wait. MFA/TAR FAO handlers refused.
(Note: Three other diplomats who, unlike PolOff, knew
about the time change but arrived at the motorcade
just at 08:00, were left behind and also missed the
trip to the Jokhang.) PolOff's request that he be
allowed to catch up to the motorcade by taxi was
refused. The Government minders, according to those
who made it on the bus, were extremely nervous and
appeared desperate to complete the visit to Jokhang as
rapidly as possible. The diplomats only realized that
they were being taken to the Jokhang Temple as they
pulled into Barkhor Square.

17. (C) Upon arrival, the diplomats noticed a much
larger security contingent than at other events on the
trip. Officials were "extremely nervous" during the
visit, several diplomats later told PolOff. Other
than the delegation and the escorts/security, Barkhor
Square and the surrounding streets were abandoned.
Little, if any, damage to shops in the Barkhor was
noticeable, according to U.K. Political Counselor
Peter Wilson. The MFA/TAR FAO officials escorted the
group into the temple where they met with a single
monk who is a member of the Jokhang's Democratic

BEIJING 00001210 007 OF 008


Management Committee. When the group asked to see the
monks involved in the March 27 demonstration in front
of foreign journalists, the monk said they and the
other monks were all in their dorm "sleeping." The
monk said that his colleagues who had participated in
the incident were "young and lacked understanding,"
but they would not be punished. Wilson noted that the
Jokhang is usually packed with pilgrims. The monk
said that the temple was closed for the day but would
reopen tomorrow. Several diplomats left the Temple
early in disgust and then staged a mini-protest,
refusing to get back on the bus while they debated
whether to continue with the visit. They eventually
decided to proceed with the schedule. Australian
Political Officer Eleanor Lawson, who had requested to
TAR Chairman Qiangba Puncog that the Jokhang be added
to the schedule and later was outspokenly critical of
the poor handling of the Temple visit, told PolOff
that MFA Director General for External Security
Affairs Wang Min later pulled her aside and demanded
that she "stop causing trouble." (Comment: PolOff's
requests on March 28 to venture out alone, as well as
his delivery of USG points on Tibet to both TAR
Chairman Qiangba and MFA VFM Wu, may have prompted
organizers to exclude PolOff from the sensitive
Jokhang trip. While a simple administrative oversight
cannot be ruled out, when PolOff complained about
being excluded, TAR FAO officials merely insisted that
"everyone was called.")

More Visits with Victims, Hospitals
-----------------------------------

18. (C) Following the Jokhang Temple stop (after which
PolOff and others who had missed the Jokhang visit
rejoined the main group), the diplomats visited the
offices of the Chengguan District Government. While
there, four Tibetans and one Han resident described
the events of March 14. Several told of having their
stores and homes destroyed, saying they were living on
Government assistance. Chen Xiaoxiong (a Han Chinese)
told of how her shop was destroyed, causing RMB 2.6
million ($370,000) in damage, and how ethnic Tibetans
had protected her and provided her with shelter. "With
the support of the Party and my friends, I am
confident I can start my life again," Chen said.

19. (C) This meeting produced the most unscripted
moment of the entire trip: In response to a question
regarding the composition of the rioters, a Tibetan
resident offered that most were "unemployed." A
Chengguan District Government official then chimed in
saying that, actually, the rioters were "lazy" people
who refused to work despite abundant opportunities to
participate in Government job-training programs. The
same official, in contradiction to the TAR Chairman's
comments that prices are stable, said inflation is a
problem and that the Government is providing extra
support for victims to cope with rising costs. The
group then visited a People's Armed Police hospital
and saw injured PAP officers (both Han and Tibetan),
including some in intensive care beds. The delegation
then proceeded to Lhasa's Regional People's Hospital.
Outside the second hospital, ambulances with smashed
windows were on display. Hospital officials relayed a
story that a mob had attacked one ambulance, which was
carrying a small child at the time. Diplomats later
met with a (Tibetan) doctor injured during the attack
on the ambulance.

Living Buddhas Denounce "Splittist" Dalai Lama
--------------------------------------------- --

20. (C) At the final meeting of the trip (the one
mentioned above that included foreign residents),
diplomats heard a briefing by Tibetan scholars and
religious figures. The briefing was heavy on
propaganda with an emphasis on Tibet's social and
economic progress since the "peaceful liberation" of
1951. The primary speaker was Drubkang, the Chairman
of the Tibetan Buddhist Association. Drupkang, in
response to a question on whether he considered the
Dalai Lama a real living Buddha, gave a lengthy
denunciation of the "unpatriotic" 14th Dalai Lama but

BEIJING 00001210 008 OF 008


fell short of denouncing the Dalai Lama's legitimacy
as a reincarnate. The Dalai Lama's use of violence
runs counter to the key tenets of Buddhism, he said.
Drubkang added that the participation of monks in the
unrest shows that monasteries need to increase their
legal education of young monks. Another living Buddha
asserted that Western countries should do more to
educate their young people about the "real" situation
in Tibet and counter widespread "prejudice" against
Tibet outside China. The Government has spent huge
sums rebuilding monasteries and providing medical care
and other benefits to monks, he said, adding that the
only "conflict" in Tibet was the long-standing
struggle between separatists and anti-separatists.
Following this meeting, the delegation departed for
the airport and returned to Beijing.

Comment
-------

21. (C) Although some of the events on this trip were
crudely stage managed, it is clear that Lhasa has
suffered widespread ethnic-based violence and rioting.
A large percentage of the population, Han and Tibetan,
have suffered great economic loss, both from the
rioting itself and the cancellation of tour groups.
Despite our hosts' efforts to portray Lhasa as a city
quickly bouncing back, the frantic visit to the
Barkhor/Jokhang Temple, with its heavy security
presence, appeared to indicate that tensions remain
high in the Tibetan quarter of the city.

22. (C) Comment continued: Interlocutors' complete
lack of candor regarding the underlying social factors
contributing to the riots, while not unexpected, was
disturbing nonetheless. Even the "average people"
diplomats met with resorted to stock propaganda
phrases (e.g., "Dalai Lama clique" and "beating,
smashing, looting, burning") while denying Tibetan
society had any problems other than the lingering
presence of a few "separatists." One Amcit resident
of Lhasa (protect), however, told PolOff during the
trip that he believes the city's Tibetan youths are
becoming "radicalized." An increasing number of young
Tibetans in Lhasa, he said, become angry when they are
addressed in Mandarin Chinese and refuse to speak
China's official language. Nevertheless, he and the
other long-term foreign residents PolOff spoke with
appeared to believe that, even if ethnic tensions
remain, tourists will return, NGO projects will go
forward and Lhasa will continue its current path of
rapid, albeit increasingly Han-dominated, development.
RANDIT

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