Two brief media notes about Tibet

Like most other people, I don't know for sure what is going on in Tibet, and in ethnic-Tibetan regions in nearby provinces (Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, etc) right now. It does look ominous. For the moment, here are two semi-surprising media notes, as of Wednesday morning, March 11, Beijing time:

1) CNN and BBC are just now running extensive reports on crackdowns and extra Chinese troops being set to Tibet and Tibetan ethnic areas. Plus, historical footage of Chinese soldiers "liberating" Tibet 50 years ago. The surprising aspect: the transmissions are not being blocked or cut off, as happened routinely last year with far less sensitive material. Even footage of an old interview with the Dalai Lama is coming right across the airwaves. Oversight? New strategy? Just too busy? Don't care what people hear in English? Impossible to say.

2) The official Chinese media usually take the sledgehammer approach when explaining China's Tibet policy to the outside world. "Jackal in a Buddhist monk's robes" as an epithet for the Dalai Lama, etc. But yesterday's editorial in my favorite newspaper, the China Daily, instead tried... the light touch! The editorial, in the form of an open letter to the D.L, was mock reverent (rather than blusteringly condemnatory), consistently addressing him as "Your Holiness" and asking him if he would be so kind as to explain various mysteries and problems. It began this way:


Full text, again, here. A new approach? An aberration? Something that will be shelved now that the D.L. has taken a much harsher, "hell on earth" tone?  I don't know. We all will watch.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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