- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The violent protests in Tibet have fueled a lively debate on blog sites, with most mainstream Chinese defending Beijing’s crackdown.

Just hours after Qiangba Puncucog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, warned Monday that “any secessionist attempt to sabotage Tibet’s stability will not gain people’s support and will be doomed to fail,” tens of thousands of people responded to the news briefing on Sina.com, one of the mainstream news providers in China.

There are 56 officially recognized groups in mainland China, with the Han people accounting for a majority of 93 percent. The minorities mainly live inland, near international borders.

Most bloggers strongly supported the Chinese government’s policy on Tibet, and some expressed anger at the protesting Tibetans.

“Kill all the Tibetan terrorists who try to separate our country!” one wrote.

“Lama, why can’t you be more law-abiding like other monks? Everyone knows you don’t do anything. You are just always making a commotion,” another wrote.

Others accused the Tibetans of trying to break the integrity of China’s territory.

“It’s like trying to break the stone with an egg if you ask for independence these days — you are asking for your own devastation.”

Still, in response to those comments, some Chinese bloggers wondered whether the society has been blinded by “Han chauvinism,” a notion of a superior Han culture used to justify discrimination against minorities.

“Han people have also been treated badly by the government and furious about it. However, I am wondering why these people now shift their position and stand with the government once they are to face Tibetans,” a blogger wrote.

Some Tibetans also joined in the debate.

“As a Tibetan, I can’t just give up. Let the Han people choose between Tibet and the Olympics,” one said.

Yue Li, a 26-year-old student from Shanghai, said many young people in her hometown think it is more important for Tibetans to be able to make decisions for themselves instead of earning an internationally recognized status of independence.

“Tibetans have a [nominal] autonomy,” she said in a telephone interview, “but I don’t think they seem to enjoy their rights.”

“I think they have the right to live under their own culture and religion,” she said.

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