The first train to Lhasa. Not.

Old China hand Jane Macartney (pictured) is a descendant of George Macartney, the first British envoy to China, who came to China in the 18th Century with the aim of negotiating trading agreements with the Qing Dynasty government led of Emperor Qianlong.

Jane Macartney has been in and out of China since the early 1980s. She is now the Beijing correspondent for The Times (U.K.).

She has a blog: Sinofile. This is from a recent post:

When is First Really First?

It should have been a historic moment. I boarded the first train to run from Beijing to Lhasa along the highest railway in the world. The air at Beijing West Station hummed with the piped muzack of Auld Lang Syne. The most modern train in China pulled out of the station to begin its 48-hour journey to the Tibetan capital.

I should have been thrilled. But the excitement was tempered. The Chinese authorities had omitted to mention that this wasn’t really the first train to Lhasa...

UPDATE 2: Previously reproduced 'CCTV' comment deleted, see comments for more of the same.

There are currently 17 Comments for The first train to Lhasa. Not..

Comments on The first train to Lhasa. Not.

Well written, Jane. Thanks.

this is a biased,partial report, full of deep-rooted prejudice. the author is following the path beaten by her envoy ancestor.

have to agree with frankie to some extent. having read her more complete blog report, it seems the author went looking for negative aspects to please and titilate the right-wing, colonial expectations of her telegraph readers

aplogies for confusing the times with the telegraph. ah well, same argument apllies, except perhaps not quite as colonial!!

I've read this post several times and seen it referenced even more and I still don't get what her point is. Maybe I'm reading it wrong? I mean, taking this train to Lhasa is not like going into uncharted space: Chinese and Tibeta workers laid every single inch of track *on location* before she made the journey, supply trains made dozens if not hundreds of trips on the rail to deliver supplies for the project... Why she gets her knickers in a knot over not being on "the first train" sounds like the mark of an armchair explorer to me.

Um, how do you know it's a CCTV account? wouldn't such a thing be under a CCTV domain name? It looks as though this could be just one more of the fenqing population running amok.

Inst: fair point; amended.

Everytime a successful woman is mentioned on this website, you creeps come along with your self righteous comments. What is it you can't handle about a woman with a good job?

But the real issue that Jane fails to address is that of security. What precautions have been made to safeguard against the possibility of the train being hijacked by extremists and driven into Potala Palace?

I agree with frankie, too much negative.

I agree Josh, what about the threat of crazed Buddhists terrorizing the population of Lhasa! More about the real issues please.

Lighten up guys ... China serves up a myriad stories and angles, some negative, some light, some plagiarised. She's writing to her readership, which either appeals or doesn't.

I agree with the hdp's comment, Jane Macartney's paper is the London Times, also as she has demonstrated, like her ancester she tries not to kowtow;-) For myself I found the details in her writings quite vivid and interesting, although I don't always agree with her political views as being a Chinese. Only I found her sinofile blog can't open up from this afternoon, though her articles on the TimesOnline website are accessible?

I think she's a good writer and I don't think she is biased against China. It was Jeremy who wrote about her ancestors, and that is not her fault who her ancestors are.


no samantha, it was jane who highlighted her ancestor. see her blog for confirmation. I also am not saying she is biased against China, but the train to Lhasa was an exercise in China bashing: the officials enjoyed better food than the normal travelers - what a crime!!

and by the way, any criticism has nothing to do with her gender. see the attacks on that cunningham fellow for confirmation of the gender balance. we are just all bitter people who like to snipe. no harm in that

I also suffered difficulty in acessing her web site for several days.But it restored these days and I don't think it's caused by filter.

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