There’s really only one highway going from southwest China to Tibet, and it’s long, uneven, often blocked or jammed by convoys of military vehicles or commercial trucks, and subject to periodic closures… Continue reading
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by Brian Awehali
Traveling through Kham, in what’s called the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), I had the considerable pleasure of staying in Lhagong. Chinese people will tell you it’s named Tagong, but re-naming is just one strategy of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Approaching this “stupa” on the edge of town during a clear moment in an otherwise rainy day, I couldn’t decide which idea held more magic for me: that this was a giant fortification full of monks and nuns who, not fearing death, were more than a match for any earthly army or floodtide of settlers, or an immense palace full of exquisitely beautiful people of belief, happily lashing their souls to some great transcendent hum.
by Brian Awehali
Last year, while traveling in East Asia, I read a fascinating book, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, by James C. Scott, a professor of Agrarian Studies at Yale University.
Scott’s book is roughly 100 million fugitives from state formation in Southeast Asia, who fled to the higher elevations– a region Scott calls Zomia that spans at least seven Asian countries and formed primarily oral, highly mobile cultures in which the fluid transformation of ethnic identities was commonplace.
Tibetans are Zomians. They are are, as I think almost everybody knows, long-term resisters against the Han Chinese empire. The Tibetans are, among other things, fierce and lovely people who wish not to be told where or how to live. Their monks are known for many things, including sparking militant protest, as they did in March 2008 in Lhasa (elevation: 11,450ft) :
by Brian Awehali
These days, urban China is made of people, cars, and ubiquitous green scaffolding and yellow-orange cranes flying the red Communist Party flag over construction sites. Everywhere you look, edifices of glass, concrete and stone predominate. By day, construction; through the night, construction. It stops for nothing, not even torrential downpours so heavy that the cab of the crane can’t be seen from the ground.
In western Sichuan, the rains have fallen particularly hard this year, causing floods and mudslides that have killed several dozen people and blocked key roads.
One of those key roads is the one that takes you from Chengdu, where I’ve spent most of my time in China, to Lhasa, the epicenter of Tibet, which is just now laboring under its 59th year of Chinese occupation. It’s rugged country, and the Tibetans are rugged people, accustomed to harsh conditions and high elevations. As an American of partial Native American descent, I feel what I consider a natural resistors’ affinity with Tibetans. Many Han are good and respectable people, but en masse, and acting under the corrupt dictates of the Chinese government and economic order, they’re part of an unjust invading force that has to tell themselves soul-killing lies to justify their expansion at the expense of the Tibetan people’s desire for self-determination.
On April 14, 2010, a 6.9-magnitude quake struck the predominantly ethnic Tibetan area of Yushu, Qinghai, in southern China. Over 2000 people were killed and over 12,000 were injured, according to “official” reports.
There is rarely agreement between “official” and actual accounts in China, especially when politicized matters involving Tibetans are concerned.
A friend of mine here in China speaks excellent Chinese and keeps a close eye on a number of important things. Today I am sharing some of his work. He writes:
A Chinese blogger combined pictures of pre-quake Yushu with this article by Ai Mo艾墨, “The Stage,” that appeared recently in Hong Kong’s Mingbao newspaper. The full text of that short article, which did not appear on the Mingbao website, is copied below, after my translation. [Some papers in Hong Kong face pressure over the publication of sensitive material and do not keep such material online. I have no direct knowledge of the track record of Mingbao in this regard. – ed]