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BBC: Lhasa under heavy security and predominantly Chinese PDF Print E-mail
[16 September 2013] A BBC correspondent has reported from Lhasa observing that, with the large military presence and heavy security, "there is no doubting that Tibet is under Chinese control". Han Chinese are said to outnumber Tibetans in Lhasa eight to one, whilst Tibetans are "effectively trapped in the region" with virtually no freedom of movement.

BBC World Service logoThe BBC journalist recently visited Lhasa and reported their findings on BBC World Service's From Our Own Correspondent on 5 September 2013.

The overall impression from the report is that of a city under occupation, with heavy security, a military presence and overt propaganda. "There is no doubting that Tibet is under Chinese control. Arriving in Lhasa you are greeted by armed Chinese guards... the streets are lined with Chinese flags. In many places the signs are in Chinese first then Tibetan. A big screen displays videos of the Chinese military marching."

China's military stranglehold over Tibet is apparent even before arriving in Lhasa. "Travelling to Lhasa by train there are further signs of the Chinese presence here. In the small military bases you pass you can see drills being carried out and tents with soldiers outside. They salute the trains as they go by."

In Lhasa itself there is an intense level of security. "In the streets leading to the main square in Lhasa there are checkpoints, police guards and airport-style bag and body scanners... Sometimes security is stepped up and then you need an ID card just to get in or out of the capital."

The city is flooded with Han Chinese. "In Lhasa, there are now eight Chinese citizens for every one local."

The identity of the city and region is disputed. "'Tibet is part of China' is a statement you hear every time you talk to the Chinese... [However,] native Tibetans insist they consider themselves Tibetan and not Chinese. They speak Tibetan to each other and our proud of their culture."

The report centre's around the ambitions and frustrations of "Tam", a Tibetan tour guide who lives in Lhasa. Tam is eager to travel abroad but is unable to leave Tibet as she is not allowed a passport. "She is effectively trapped in the region."

Tam has family in Nepal but she never been able to visit them and even communicating with them is difficult. "Phone lines, email and the internet are unreliable... and often censored. Television, radio and newspapers are also censored."

Listen to the
BBC World Service broadcast
(Audio. Approximately four minutes. Starts at 5:10 into programme.)

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