Two months before the earthquake struck Sichuan, violent protests by Tibetans in Lhasa provoked a fiercely nationalistic reaction from many mainlanders that threatened to destroy already fragile relations between Han Chinese and Tibetans. But the worst disaster to strike the mainland in a generation has had one positive effect: with Han and Tibetans united in grief and sympathy for the victims of the quake, tensions between the two ethnic groups have cooled. In Chengdu's Tibetan quarter - a meeting place for the communities, where Tibetans from western Sichuan come to stock up on essentials - Tibetans expressed their sorrow at the thousands of Han Chinese killed. 'In my home in west Sichuan we were not really affected by the earthquake. But Tibetans feel the pain with the rest of the country,' said a Tibetan monk. A woman called Choekyi from the Ganze region in Tibetan Sichuan said: 'Of course Tibetans sympathise. We are all Chinese - it doesn't matter whether you are Tibetan or Han. We all cried for the victims.' Tibetans are among the estimated 200,000 volunteers helping to alleviate suffering in the disaster areas north of Chengdu, which include the Tibetan region of Aba . Although the quake did not devastate Tibetan areas, ethnic Tibetans were among the victims. 'We are all people and we suffer together. It doesn't matter where you come from,' said a monk from Aba. Phuntsok, a van driver from the Kangba region of Sichuan, who had returned from delivering food and water to survivors in Beichuan and Qingchuan, said: 'In our religion it is our duty to save every life that we can.' Just two weeks ago, many Chengdu taxi drivers were too scared to drive into the city's Tibetan quarter, refusing to pick up Tibetans for fear of being beaten up after the eruption of violence in March. 'Since the earthquake the atmosphere has changed,' taxi driver Zhao Yefeng said. 'Wenchuan is very close to where the Tibetans live, and the disaster has helped bring us together. 'The earthquake has united the Chinese people, including Tibetans.' However, with the issues that led to the violence unresolved - suppression of Tibetan culture by the mainland government, as claimed by Tibetans - the fear is that the truce will be temporary. 'All Tibetans are sad for the victims of the earthquake because we like the Chinese people. But that does not mean we like the Chinese government,' said Phuntsok. 'Although it looks as if relations between Tibetans and Chinese have improved in the past few weeks, in their hearts Tibetans still hate this government.' Other Tibetans in Chengdu would not talk about the situation. Phuntsok said he was under constant government surveillance after visiting Dharamsala in India, the home of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Chinese people, who see themselves as victims after the protests left several Han Chinese dead, also resent the perceived benefits given to appease ethnic minorities. Beijing has pumped vast sums into transport, education and medical services in Tibet . Tibetans are not bound by the strict one-child policy. 'Most people think the Communist Party treats Tibetans too well - they receive special policies and have more rights than we do. And they all have lots of money,' Mr Zhao said. But a Han Chinese nun, a convert to Tibetan Buddhism, said there was little ethnic strife at her home near the Qinghai border. 'There is no big gulf between Tibetans and Han where I come from. We live together with little friction,' she said.