A friend of mine just sent me some new (graphic) photos from Tibet, including additional images from Monday protests in Kathmandu.
While sometimes Chinese attempts at suppressing information are goofy (for example, putting white stickers over the section of Lonely Planets sold in Beijing that describes the Tiannamen Square massacre), in the case of domestic information about Tibet, such efforts have been effective and nearly monolithic. Accordingly, what’s frightening here is the fact that as much as China has changed in recent decades, on territorial–and highly emotional–issues like Tibet and Taiwan, the conversation has not budged.
Last fall for a brief moment during Burma’s “saffron revolution,” we heard a lot about the power of the Internet to undermine repressive regimes. Yet the lesson of cases like Burma and Tibet is, more than anything, that the flowering of the Internet is hardly a proxy for some kind of velvet coup from within. Fiberoptic cables can’t stop dictatorships; major trading partners can (or can try).
Meanwhile here in the United States, the State Department has responded accordingly: “This is an issue that is…longstanding in China and it’s one that’s going to have to be resolved internally between the parties.