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Tuesday, September 27

Chinese Communist Party's second invasion of Tibet

Arriving back at our hotel after 9pm, four of us walked straight out again and into a taxi. This time, our trip would be more eventful. A white SUV didn’t bother to hide that it was following us. After changing cars, like any well-trained operative in the movies, we thought the path was clear. But the famed security grid, which China’s police and armed forces have established across Tibet, soon caught up with us.
On the road out of town, a taxi drew level with our car, slowed down, looked in through the windows, then sped off. Just to be sure, it allowed us to overtake a few kilometres down the road, which permitted them another look.
Then came the road block. On the turn-off to the monastery, police had erected a checkpoint just for us. We were stopped and, after being forcefully told the monastery was closed, were sent back to town with an escort.
So we never did speak to the monks of Lamaling, but a sign board outside the temple indicated the type of ideological conformity demanded by China’s Communist Party.
Accompanying a photo of President Xi Jinping were extracts of a speech he had given on religion in April.

It said “religious doctrines must be merged with Chinese culture” and the country must “resolutely resist overseas infiltration through religious means”. 
The above is from Angus Grigg's China's New Invasion of Tibet (September 24. 2016), which reports on Beijing's push to blanket Tibet with Han Chinese tourists. Grigg leavens the topic with an account of his adventure after he tricked China's authorities into allowing him take a train ride from China into Tibet that's pretty much off-limits to foreigners -- especially foreign journalists.

Grigg is an award-winning journalist for Australia's Fiancial Review with 15 years experience as a journalist. He needed every bit of his experience to investigate first-hand what life is like today in Tibet for Tibetans:
Tibet is one of the most closed reporting zones in the world. It is more restricted even than the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, which at least has an Associated Press bureau these days. At best, 20 members of the foreign press corps are allowed to visit Tibet for a week each year, under the tight supervision of the Foreign Ministry. But an annual trip is not guaranteed and indeed, over the last decade, just four groups of China-based foreign journalists have been allowed into the province.
Once there, some independent reporting is permitted, although travel is highly restricted.
What Grigg observed in Tibet is that the Chinese government has been methodically destroying everything about Tibetan culture and replacing it with Han culture -- a process so well studied that it has a technical term: sinicization, "whereby non-Han Chinese societies come under the influence of Han Chinese state and society."

The influence is achieved in a variety of ways; Grigg makes passing mention of one that again has been well studied. From a review of Emily T. Yeh's 2013 book, Taming Tibet; Cornell University Press.
The master narrative of the PRC stresses generosity: the state and Han migrants selflessly provide development to the supposedly backward Tibetans, raising the living standards of the Han's "little brothers."
Arguing that development is in this context a form of "indebtedness engineering," Yeh depicts development as a hegemonic project that simultaneously recruits Tibetans to participate in their own marginalization while entrapping them in gratitude to the Chinese state.
The resulting transformations of the material landscape advance the project of state territorialization.
Which is to say that the tactics of Chinese colonizers make the old-time Western colonizers look like clumsy amateurs.

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