Asymmetric Information – Tibet

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The official version says that it all began with monks stoning the police in Tibet. Tibetan residents on the other hand believe that it was the police that were beating up Buddist monks.

Whichever version holds true, Chinese authorities was caught by surprise as Lhasa was overrun by the biggest anti-Chinese protests in decades. With the Olympic games around the corner,  Chinese authorities are taking a softer stance against the protestors (unlike Tiananmen Square).

This time around, there were no blazing guns and tanks like in 1989 for  fear of inciting international boycott of the Olympic games (that is crucial in lifting China’s international status). Instead the rioters were allowed to vent their anger before the law enforcers moved in to quell the chaos.

According to the Economist magazine, shops owned by Tibetans were marked as such with tradidional white scarves tied through their shutter-handles. These shops were spared from destruction by the mob.

The victims were mostly located south of Beijing Road, Lhasa (what an ironic name) whereby the streets were mostly owned by Hans or Huis (a Muslim ethnic group that controls much of Lhasa’s meat trade).

The mob was seen smashing into non-Tibetan shops and taking the merchandise onto the street to burn. A few yelled “Long Live Dalai Lama!” and “Free Tibet!”

Source: The Economist

Facts – BBC

  • Population: 2.62 million (2000 Chinese census)
  • Capital: Lhasa
  • Area: 1.2 million sq km (471,700 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Tibetan, Chinese
  • Major religion: Buddhism
  • Main exports: Handicrafts, livestock
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