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Lions Roar : July 2017
T HERE WAS UNDERSTANDABLE skepticism last March when Chinese state broadcaster CCTV declared Lhasa “the happiest city in China.” In 2008, after all, an estimated 140 people had died in protests in the Tibetan capital on the forty-ninth anniversary of the revolt against the Chinese takeover. Since then, 148 monks, nuns, and lay Tibetans—as well as eight Tibetans in exile—have set themselves aflame to protest Chinese rule over their homeland. The cheery poll also contrasted sharply with the news that Freedom House, in its annual “Freedom in the World” report, ranked Tibet the second-worst place in the world for political rights and civil liberties. Num- ber one was Syria. The ancient Potala Palace towers over the streets of modern Lhasa, where Tibetan culture is under siege from Chinese tourism, immigration, and develop- ment. Han Chinese now make up 22% of the city’s population. Crisis on the Roof of the World The repression, surveillance, and propaganda are Orwellian. Chinese money, immigrants, and tourists are pouring in. The fight to control religion is heating up. JOHN DeMONT reports that China’s longterm campaign to assimilate Tibet has entered a critical new stage. PHOTOBYCHINAPHOTOS/GETTYIMAGES LION’S ROAR | JULY 2017 69