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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Chinese seethe on Web over rare riots in Tibet

March 16, 2008

By Sophie Taylor

SHANGHAI March 15, 2008 (Reuters) - China's carefully controlled media
may have remained largely silent on the unrest in Tibet, but a look at
Chinese blogs reveals a vitriolic outpouring of anger and nationalism
directed against Tibetans and the West.

China -- which routinely censors its news to avoid stoking popular
sentiment -- has less of a stranglehold over what is posted online, and
over 200 million enthusiastic Internet users.

On Saturday, a rash of angry blog posts appeared after China confirmed
deaths in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and U.S. actor Richard Gere called
for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics should the authorities mishandle
the protests.

"Westerners think they know all about China, telling us that this, that
and the other is bad," wrote one blogger, who listed historical reasons
justifying Tibet's inclusion as part of China.

"Most foreigners have been brainwashed as far as this issue is
concerned," assented another user.

Other blogs were virulently nationalistic.

"If you behave well, we'll protect your culture and benefits," said one
blogger, addressing Tibetans in China.

"If you behave badly, we'll still take care of your culture ... by
putting it in a museum. I believe in the Han (Chinese) people!"

Many blamed the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and
Nobel Peace Prize winner, for inciting the riots.

"Simple monks, simple Tibetans, do they even know what is the driving
force behind the push for independence?" said one blog.

The view was echoed by some residents in Beijing, due to host the
Olympics in less than six months' time.

"I think that the Chinese government has to cut this cancer out. We can
start with the Dalai Lama, and even though we don't have relations with
the Dalai Lama, we should arrest those who are behind the riots," said
one man surnamed Song.

In striking contrast to the media blackout during the Tiananmen protests
in 1989, China's flourishing online chatrooms, bulletin boards and Web
logs means citizens have more opportunity to air their opinions
publicly, even as censors rush to remove the offending comments mere
hours later.

Some Web surfers expressed indignation at the muzzled mainland Chinese
press, having only stumbled on reports of the riots while browsing
international sites.

"The local papers haven't covered this. Luckily for us there is still
online media," said one.

China, which has ruled Tibet since 1950, maintains that the
predominantly Buddhist Himalayan region has been traditionally part of
the country for centuries, a view taught exclusively at Chinese schools.

Still, while most blog postings appeared to agree with Beijing's
official stance, a rare few differed.

"I'm not some big Stalinist, and I don't share the view that Tibet is
part of China. Every minority has the right to choose its own path of
development," said one blogger who claimed to have lived in Tibet for
four years.

(Editing by Ben Blanchard)
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