Tîbet: Chinese sources and foreign correspondents on the ground

It's not very easy to find eye witness accounts or reports from anyone on the ground in Lhåsa. Not only is physical access to Tîbet now being tightly controlled, but the Chinese Net Nanny is on the rampage, blocking foreign websites and deleting content on local servers.

In addition, it is worth noting these lines from writer Wang Lixiong, husband of Tibetan writer Woeser, as translated by ESWN:

Today, information on Tîbet is duopolized by two different political propaganda machines. One machine is located in Beijing, and the other in Dhåramsala. Since Tibet is to a large extent still under a state of blockade, other individuals or organizations find it very difficult to obtain independent information (especially at the macroscopic level). Like it or not, people who are concerned about Tîbet are getting most of their information from these two propaganda machines.

The bad thing is that the information from these two sources is almost surely conflicting with and even completely opposite to each other. Faced with this absurd situation, the solution is to choose your position first and decide which side you want to stand with, and then you treat the information from that side as true and everything from the other side as false.

Below is a summary of the best English language sources of information and one Chinese blog worth watching. If you're in China, you'll need a proxy server or other Nanny-avoidance technology for most of these links.

ESWN: March 14, 2008, Lhåsa (translation from Chinese blog post)
Mutant Palm: Chinese Tweet Updates (translations of Chinese microblogs about the situation; see also Engaging Chinese Netizens: Fanfou)
Global Voices: Fire on the streets of Lhåsa (translations from Chinese language blogs and BBS postings)
The Economist: Fire of the roof of the world (eye witness account from the only accredited foreign journalist currently in Lhasa)
China Digital Times: Netizens Find Space to Comment on Lhåsa Riots
Tim Johnson: Struggling to report on Tibetans (he is currently in western Sichuan, trying to get into Tîbet)
Shanghaiist: Huge directory of links about Tîbet
Woeser: The invisible Tîbet (Chinese language blog of Woeser mentioned above, includes photos)
Zola (self-described Chinese citizen journalist): Photos of demonstrations In Gånsu and Tîbet (text in Chinese)

Finally, for perspective, it's worth reading this 1999 article by Peter Hessler in The Atlantic: Tîbet through Chinese eyes.

There are currently 24 Comments for Tîbet: Chinese sources and foreign correspondents on the ground.

Comments on Tîbet: Chinese sources and foreign correspondents on the ground

I feel regretful for what happened in Lhasa. Bless!

Is it just me, or was Danwei quite slow at posting anything about these riots in Tibet?

Please explain if there is a rational explanation. If not, i'm imagining it; delete this post.

The Economist Magazine (the only foreign publication to be granted a permit for the area in question) had an eye-witness account of the goings-on. They seem to be a credible source.

Heard Mr. Goldkorn on BBC News International this morning. Well done!

What did our beloved Mr. Goldkorn say this morning?

Zhou Yu:

When we have original sources that no one else is quoting, or Chinese material that has not yet been translated into English, we can be very quick. But when we have no better information than Reuters, ESWN, or The Financial Times, speed is not our forté.


Not quite sure how to take your comment. Are you from Beijing, and what you mean by "beloved" is something nasty to do with my mother?

Anyhow, I don't know exactly what I said because it was live, and I have no recording. My basic shpiel was that most news-aware Chinese people know about the goings on in Tibet — after all CCTV reported it; but the online debate is being harmonized and deleted.

I am not located in Beijing and I meant "beloved" straightforwardly. :)

Thanks for answering my question. One point I would like to add based on your reply is that, on website, for example, you can easily find over 10,000 personal comments about Tibet reporting - it's not being "deleted". It is "harmonized", perhaps, because nearly 100% replies are in one voice - towards unity. So there is no "online debate", which is also true in China.

I am glad to hear the voice from Jeremy on NPR this morning as well but don't recall what he had said, lol.

I found it absurd to take on either side of the propaganda. The only thing I am sure is - whoever commited violent acts in these events, shame on you.

I really wish everything happen there will get better as time goes on. That I hope if there things that the government need to improve on will be improved. If there are people just trying to cause some problem, I hope they will be punished for it.
I really wish there is a better relationship between most of all ethic group in China, if there are already are great, then that is great!

Do the Tibetans really having issue with Han or other ethic groups? Is it just a few or some unrest there? Are there really something the government could improve on top of for people there??

What is Dala Lama really like?I know there are alot of propandge about him, both good and bad, good being on the western side, the bad being on the China side.

Really, JG was on NPR this morning? Man, I missed it. I listen to NPR everyday.

As for Tibet, rude awakening to those Chinese nationalists I bet. It's all fun and games till reality hits; we're talking bout real people and real lives here. It is cultural genocide. China should just give Tibet up, and let the people decide. This is what I have believed for years and it is what I believe now.

Ok, I am looking at some of the media website, I guess that almost everyone take the Lama's side. Does someone know what really happening there?

Wei, what does "take the Lama's side" mean?

All the English-language reports I've checked clearly state that ethnic Tibetans have been attacking Han people and looting and burning Han establishments. None of the reports applauded this behavior. It is also true that they didn't parrot the PRC government's claims that 'the DL Group' (whatever that is) is responsible for the violence, and did note that the DL himself called for Tibetans to refrain from violence. They didn't take a position as to whether this was sincere or calculated. That seems pretty objective to me.

To my view, the one message that comes most clearly from this ugly situation is that many Tibetans resent the Chinese government - which anyone who knows any Tibetans could have told you. They don't feel Chinese, and don't consider Tibet to be part of China.

As with the Uyghurs, it's not a small minority of the population that feels this way, but the overwhelming majority. If you didn't already know that, the propaganda machine really did a good job.

Note that I did not say that Xizang and Xinjiang are not part of China. They are, have been during certain periods in the past, and may well continue to be. I simply made an observation regarding the perceptions and feelings of the people living there.

Note also that this is not the same as saying that the violence was justified. It's simply trying to identify where it came from (as opposed to the pat PRC govt. claim that it was all orchestrated by 'the DL Group', which simply isn't credible).


Independent investigation is in urgent need. The whole world is desperate to know the truth about the riots. Who incited the Tibetans, who are the victims, pls publicize the names of the victims, their families and let us know whether they are Chinese or Tibetants.
Ethinic Han culture is intruding the Tibetan highland, but Dalai Lama can also stop being a hypocrite and start doing something to practically protect the Tibetan culture, rather than his personal interest.



It is always hard to believe how nationalistic and one-sided your views regarding Tibet can be... you are so proud of your culture, so just imagine being Tibetan for a minute. For half a century your culture has been oppressed by another culture . This culture treats you and your people second-class, exploits your ressources and made you a minority in your own capitol...
Would you like that???
Black and white is too simple, I really hope that you will compare sources of information and develop some critical thinking.

Let's hope the killings will end soon!!!

既然你是研究中国媒介方面的,你应该懂中文。恕我没用英文。留言只是想让你更加关注中国,更加真实了解中国,更加准确报道中国!Do what you should do!

Hi,Im from Srikanth from India.I was searching the web for a chinese forum in english for discussions on tibet and i stumbled upon this one. I must say that its heartening to see some sane,intelligent,humane and unbiased views from the chinese individuals(presuming) here because almost all other chinese forums are filled with ultra nationalistic and brainwashed opinions bordering on propaganda full of hatred for non chinese people and even for tibetans.It would make one think that china is not a place for ppl who can think independantly or have any humane feelings.

But some comments on this forum and a few other rare voices of reason from chinese individuals have given me a reason to expect better from this great civilisation with a sad government.


外人參與大陸的中文論壇肯定不受歡迎﹐ 異見者快被趕走﹐本地人不善用辯論的方法﹐道理﹐禮貌去對話﹐反而採用侮辱﹐嘲笑﹐責罵對方﹐正如樓上的偏重一面﹐借題發揮﹐排斥異己。如此﹐豈能對話﹖你來此找靶子擲鏢而已。

Again to the God;





Xanax,可惜的是外人不能去天涯雜談(您該比我清楚吧!)﹐不過您們的人來此交談發表意見一直受歡迎無壓力。請注意﹐從頭到尾我都沒有提到西藏的事﹐只是對答 God 的牢騷﹐又解釋大陸媒體和自由新聞界不同性質。



I'm so pissed off about thes West's ignorance towards tibet. What happened in paris and london was unforgiveable and I dont think anyone in the West actually gave enough of a shit to even think how much of an insult that was to not just china, but every chinese person in the world. the west's accusations towards china are based on what they saw on tv and hear from their politicians, who in turn are simply exploiting this opportunity to appear righteous by siding with the dalai lama. none of these people actually have a clue about what the lama stands for, or what actually happened in lhassa, or know anything about the history of tibet and china. what exactly did china do wrong in lhasa? do western countries not have riot police? do you not use tear gas and batons and rubber bullets? china and tibet are neighbours, what makes the west think they can tell us who's who? who are they to say tibet isnt part of china? thats like us saying scotland isnt part of the UK. China is a country made up of hundreds of smaller tribes, ethnic groups and cultures, and tibet has always been one of these groups. furthermore, when was the last time chinese officials commented on the west's treatment of their neighbours? guantanamo? northern ireland? the holocaust? you westerners are ignorant, self-righteous and biased. especially your media

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