As each week passes word comes of another self-emulation in Tibetan lands of China. Many are young monks, and more and more are women. The grief they must feel for the slow loss of their culture is unimaginable to me. In our tandem travels across Tibet, we saw the government’s attempts at subjugating the Tibetan culture by smothering their lands with emigrants from the Han majority: whole cities are being built in the Tibetan foothills to attract Hans to Tibet, many to little effect. I remember pedaling miles toward a mountain pass for hours, with a view of modern city below us, large enough to house a million people. The tall buildings looked almost hopeful in their brilliance, but in those two hours we saw just a few cars and one motorcycle.
But eventually the Han will find the promise of free or inexpensive housing irresistible, and the Tibetans will be pushed back yet again. More will die, and the world will go on ignoring their plight.
We like both the Han people and the Tibetans. There must be a solution, but it probably will have to come from within. The West is now too dependent on China for cheap manufacturing to speak out against the policy of cultural destruction against Tibetans.
When we bicycled across Tibetan Sichuan on our In Search of Shangri La journey, we passed into Tibetan lands at this stupa marking the first pass.
As we traversed more passes to the west, the Chinese military and national police became much more numerous. We were stopped and questioned almost daily, lest we be on a mission to stir up the Tibetans.
Tension was in the air on the streets of Litang, where we took a few days of high altitude rest. A convoy of 108 trucks filled with troops passed through town to the taunts, and at least a few rocks were thrown.
To read much more, see photos and videos of the people and the land: