Battle for Tibet

Posted on: 06.07.2011 in interact > Geography

Channel One journeyed to the Tibetan region to learn first-hand about the issues surrounding this controversial land.

Tibet has long been a point of dispute. China claims that “Tibet is an inalienable part” of their country, while Tibetans are fighting to end the Chinese occupation of their country.

Find out more about the tense history between China and Tibet in the slideshow below.

In Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, a tiny country that borders China just south of the Tibet region, the Tibet Reception Center welcomes people who escape from Tibet. Tibetians sneaking into Nepal have to cross over steep mountain passes -- it's a dangerous and difficult trip.   This boy has just made the arduous trek into Nepal. He and many other young people have made the journey without their parents. Their families, who stay behind in Tibet, encourage them to make the journey in search of a better future.

In Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, a tiny country that borders China just south of the Tibet region, the Tibet Reception Center welcomes people who escape from Tibet. Tibetians sneaking into Nepal have to cross over steep mountain passes -- it's a dangerous and difficult trip. This boy has just made the arduous trek into Nepal. He and many other young people have made the journey without their parents. Their families, who stay behind in Tibet, encourage them to make the journey in search of a better future.

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Tibet is a remote region of Western China that has some of the highest mountains in the world. The altitude of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is 12,000 feet. Shortly after the Channel One team arrives, they succumbed to altitude sickness. Here, Lisa Ling is inhaling oxygen.

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In Tibetan tradition, these prayer wheels are seen as devises for spreading spiritual blessings and well being. Although Tibetans are often considered oppressed people, many of these rituals have withstood the test of time.

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While the Chinese government now allows Tibetans to practice their Buddhist faith, the Dalai Lama's picture is still forbidden in temples and monasteries. The Dalai Lama, who is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, has been in exile in India since 1959. Here, Tibetans have taken a pilgrimage to pray before this silk embroidered tapestry of a Buddha.

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While in Tibet, the Channel One group posed as tourists -- western journalists are not welcome because the Chinese government doesn't want negative information coming out of Tibet. Here, Lisa Ling poses just a few feet away from a Chinese soldier. Immediately after the photo was taken, he instructed her not to take any more.

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The economy is growing in Tibet, but most of the business owners are Chinese. Here, in the Tibet marketplace, hundreds of people sell produce and meat, but nearly all of them are Chinese. Tibet has a population of 13.5 million, but more than half -- 7.5 million -- are Chinese.

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On signs like these in the Tibetan marketplace, both the Tibetan and Chinese languages appear. It's mandatory for the Tibet writing (on top) to be much smaller than the Chinese.

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Many of the Tibetan villages have a difficult time fitting in with modern Tibet. In order to get jobs in Tibet one must be educated, and many Tibetans are not. Most of them do not even speak Chinese.

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In recent year, the government has encourage Chinese people to relocate to Tibet and help modernize the area. Many Tibetans fear that as the region is westernized, traditional Tibetan culture will be lost. They worry that the Tibetan culture will only survive in entertainment shows, such as this one performed at a local restaurant, that are put on for tourists visiting the region.

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