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The Sun of Tibet Setting from Lhasa?

November 5, 2009

Tibetan Review
November 1, 2009

Tibet had changed more between 2007 and 2009 than
it had in the preceding eight years thanks to the
Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the commercialization
of a "mystical Tibet" to both the Chinese and
Western consumers, according to a Student
Correspondent Corps report in the GlobalPost
online Oct 27. The report also confirmed that
Tibet’s capital Lhasa continued to be a city
under siege by Chinese security forces.

The report said: "Armed military details are
stationed at every street corner 24/7, six-troop
patrols march up and down the lanes of the old
town in synchronized step, and watchmen stand
sentry on rooftops adjacent to all sensitive
zones like the Ramoche and Jokhang temples, two
of the most sacred sites in Lhasa as well as the
focal points for past protests."

The reporter also found, "saddest of all," that
the streets of Lhasa were filled with beggars
consisting of men, women and children. Last
summer the authorities banned all begging in the
city and expelled the beggars to their respective
villages, considering them an embarrassment
before the hordes of travelers expected to arrive
in connection with the Olympic Games.

But "(t)he travelers never came, the gates were
finally opened, and the beggars returned in a
flood," the report said. The reporter found it
“disturbing to confront such untold numbers
resorting to a livelihood by desperation.”

The reporter found that economic and social
developments in Tibet had created a volatile
situation that radiated from Lhasa across the
country, with the greatest impact resulting from
two causes: “first, railroad and highway
construction, and its resulting rapid transfer of
people and material goods to and from mainland
China, and between the plateau and the Indian
subcontinent; second, the commercialization of a
‘mystical Tibet’ to both the Chinese and Western
consumer. These developments gather steam by the day."
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