Xinhua News Agency

People left with official version on Tibet violence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 March, 2008, 12:00am

It was nearly impossible yesterday for people on the mainland to find out what was happening in Tibet .

The mass media was largely silent on the anti-Beijing demonstrations in the autonomous region, and the few reports on the protests were limited to the official version.

Only two English-language newspapers - China Daily and Shanghai Daily - mentioned the protests, and both presented Xinhua's version. China Daily carried the news at the bottom left of the front page while Shanghai Daily ran it on the second page.

The usually vocal Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis News ran Xinhua's statement at the bottom of its front page.

Shanghai television's evening news also reported the Xinhua statement at the end of the local news segment.

One Shanghai resident surnamed Huang, who practises Tibetan Buddhism, said he was completely unaware of protests.

'No, I don't know. I have never heard of it,' he said. 'Even if there are protests, there isn't much we can do here.' Mr Huang said he had a teacher in Tibet, but stressed that he was not worried. 'It is destiny. Well, I will pray for him.'

Another Buddhist, Ms Zhou, who was similarly unaware of the protests, criticised the Dalai Lama for damaging the unity of the country.

'He ran away and criticised us from overseas. It is bad for the country's unity,' she said.

Access to foreign media through the internet was blocked.

A Malaysian who did not want to be named complained he was kept in the dark by the media blackout. 'I used to go to the BBC radio on the internet, but it is blocked today.'

Internet access to CNN was also blocked. Some residential complexes where expatriates live had problems receiving satellite signals of international news channels.

One Taiwanese said: 'I rely on Taiwan and international news channels to find out what is happening in the world.

'But this morning, they were all gone. Now only CNN services have resumed.'