The Chinese government on the eve of staging the Olympic Games is facing a huge public relations disaster as violence continues in Tibet. Fighting between protestors, who were shouting, “Free Tibet” and police and army units, has resulted in at least four deaths and hundreds injured. Demonstrators set fire to shops and cars as police opened fire on them while all monasteries were reported surrounded by hundreds of soldiers in order to halt monks from participating in action against Chinese authority in Tibet. A Han woman told reporters: “It was chaos everywhere. I could see fires, smoke, cars and mortorcycles burning.” A tibetan guide who refused to give his name said police in riot gea were backed by armored vehicles and were blocking major intresections in the city. The US embassy in Beijing has received reports from Americans in Lhasa of gunfire and rioting.
The open resentment of demonsrators has undoubtedly shocked Chinese officials who continue believing their rule over the Tibetan people is welcomed by one and all. A Tibetan demonstrator told a reporter, “I have a mesage for Tibetans abroad: don’t stop supporting us. If you stop, it makes the risks we’re taking useless.”
China has two choices: continue present policies which are resented by Tibetans or move in a direction of offering the people of Tibet genuine local autonomy. If China uses excessive force it risks creating conditions that might spark a boycott of the Olympic Games and damage its image in the world for a decade.