It’s obviously a big issue, when Police and the Army shoot against unarmed civilians, and beat schoolchildren during their free time. But the Tibet situation is complex: sure, more complex than Burma’s of some months ago.
The Burmese monks rebelled against the umpteenth torment on the part of the Military Junta. The Tibet revolt seems planned instead in order to coincide with the 20th anniversary of another one, risking embarrassment for the Beijing Government during what was meant to be a joyful prelude to the Olympic Games of August 2008.
There was in fact nearly the absolute certainty that the Chinese “security forces” would react brutally: indeed, if the dead total to tens or hundreds, they will be much fewer in past repressions. And those “security forces” act just as brutally in other parts of China…
Also, the strong aversion for all thing Tibet by the President of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Jin Tao, are well known, stemming from his stint as Party Secretary in Lhasa: whose climate, and whose people he just never managed to bear.
The history itself of the relationships between communist China and the current Dalai Lama is not very simple. It could indeed be argued that his hastened departure after the unwise rebellion by the Tibetan nobility in 1956-1959 has coincided with the liberation of large numbers of people from serfdom. Finally, just to provide an example of all the issues that seldom surface, the Chinese Government is obviously determined not to let Tibet end up like Mongolia, that managed to free itself thanks to Soviet support whilst China went from one civil war to another during the first half of the XX Century.
Therefore, even if there is criminal repression going on at this moment, we must ask why it has been evoked/provoked right now with a rebellion and civil disorders. Who wanted to verify if the People’s Liberation Army would have avoided the use of force or not? And why… that is, what ever will the medium/long term Tibetan strategy?
If we do not know how to answer these questions, we can only pronounce the usual appeals to calm and moderation: assisting as spectators to the renewed drama in the destructive relationship between the central Government and the aboriginal Tibetan population.
And for the Chinese Government there is a clear, logical strategy: repress, without exaggerating too much. At the end of the day, just a media-management issue.