Crisis enters 66th day as China prepares 73rd assault on rebel monks
(Lhasa) – The weather is fair and mild in Lhasa, but the calm is belied by the simmering tensions between the Chinese military attempting to retake the city and the rebel monks holding it in defiance of Beijing’s demands.
Chinese troops camped outside the provincial capital appear restless and impatient with the intractable situation. When asked, many fondly remembered pre-NFVS campaigns in which they would, “stomp on the throats of western puppets with our boot heel,” as one soldier put it.
Major General Li Jun, the overall commander in charge of the operation, had more to say on the matter, “We are extremely pleased to announce that our great nation has just christened and launched its third modern aircraft carrier. This great advance will help us secure our borders and increase our standing as a leader in the global community.”
Access to Lhasa is strictly controlled and few supplies are smuggled in or out of the city. The blockade itself is proving less effective than military officials had first hoped due to the lack of starvation and disease within the besieged population. To complicate matters, many of the rebel monks are of an ascetic order that has foregone modern conveniences and electricity for thousands of years.
Frustration with the situation is palpable in Beijing where party officials are working to assure the greater population of China that they can still offer protection from dangerous minority groups. “The economic growth of China is set to exceed expectations and reach 9% this quarter,” states Wang Jie, a party spokesman, “At this rate we are set to double the size of US economy in 50 years.”
The 72 and counting failed offensives against the rebels, attributed to the military’s inability to kill or dislodge the rebel monks from their demolished stronghold, has some Chinese citizens questioning the efficacy and wisdom of staying the course.
“Lhasa? What’s a Lhasa?” asks Shanghai resident Liu Fang, turning in confusion to her boyfriend, Xi Bo, who shrugs his shoulders in response, his arms burdened with their daily haul from the shopping mall.
Not everyone is so pessimistic, however. Renowned scholar Zhang Chung of Peking University sees lessons to heed in history, “The United States has seen many cities burn and destroyed by its out-of-control citizens. Even in its own capital of Washington DC the government has lost control. Clearly western-style governance has failed. China is the future.”
Though the outcome of this protracted conflict is uncertain, what is clear is that China will be forever changed by the hard lessons learned in Lhasa.