the five Ws

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2008, 12:00am

Your primer to an issue in the news


The Tibetan capital Lhasa has been the centre of violent anti-China protests since March 10.


China says 13 people have been killed by rioters. But Tibetan exiles living in India say at least 80 protesters were killed by Chinese forces.

Yesterday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao accused Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of masterminding the riots.


The recent unrest may only be a few days old, but Tibet is no stranger to controversy. Its people have lived under Chinese rule since the People's Liberation Army entered in 1950.


The remote country lies between China and India. For hundreds of years, it has struggled to retain autonomy, as it was fought over at various times by the Turks, Mongols, Russians, British and Chinese.


Why is Tibetan autonomy such a big issue? The Dalai Lama wants China to grant his country the freedom to protect its culture, which Tibetan exiles claim China is trying to erase. In Lhasa, Tibetans are the minority, having been pushed out by Han Chinese.


How has the world reacted? Western governments have offered limited criticism of China's response. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called on both China and the protestors to exercise restraint.

Some athletes have spoken of boycotting this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing, but the EU Sports Commissioner Jan Figel says a boycott would punish only the athletes.