I am just a few short miles from Aba, where the Tibetans burned down a police station last week. Since that incident it has been mostly quiet. This is a big tourist area and the troubles do not seem to have affected business much. Busloads of Cantonese rumble through daily, honking, yapping and taking funny pictures. The Tibetans in this region -- Jiarong Tibetans, supposedly the oldest of the many groups --are considered a rather passive lot compared with their cousins in Kham and Amdo. Many of them are more Sinofied then their cousins as well -- they may or may not speak Tibetan, but they sure as hell speak Chinese.
Aba is a bit more accessible then Kham and has Jiu Zhai Gou, a World Heritage Site that brings in 3 million tourists a year. Hard to remain warlike and pissed when the tourism money flows in.
Ironically, the police rounded up hundreds of poor Han Chinese peasant-laborers here without ID cards and sent them back to wherever they came from. The Tibetans treat the laborers with disdain and there is a clear racial issue between them.
A large group of journalists tried to sneak into Tibet proper here recently but were caught at the border and sent back to Beijing after heavy questioning. As with the Tibetan District in Chengdu, there is a large police presence on many of the roads in Aba and they routinely pull over foreigners and hassle them. They take pictures of rowdy Tibetans and spread the Party message of anti-splittism and solidarity with the Motherland. The police rely on a heavy hand and constant barrage of propaganda to keep the peace.
My gong fu master has been hired as security for the torch relay, so it will be interesting to hear what he has to say about the Tibet issue. He is a very open-minded and thoughtful man with no racist tendencies and a strong sense of honor. I think he is one of the best choices for security. He is able to talk with Tibetans. I just hope he gets the chance to talk before they start lobbing stones at him for being a member of the "oppressing race of Han."
I am really tired and this past week I have been dealing with crafty, maneuvering Chinese and battered, stressed out, shell-shocked Germans. I stand in the middle and because of that I am considered to have a more important position than I actually do have. The Germans look to me for solutions and the Chinese are trying to suss me out and get an advantage.
I just wanna head back to my crib, smell flowers, drink tea and think up cool stuff to write about.
Peace to Big Daddy Jake.