Tibet, a sacred jewel of unearthly enlightenment, faces a merciless opponent -- Chinese Modernization. The once impenetrable “roof of the world” has been infiltrated by a most nefarious occupier. The Chinese government has shown little regard for native culture and works to control all aspects of Tibetan life, as China is threatened by the prospect of Tibetan self-determination and the powerful appeal of Tibetan Buddhism.
Lhasa, the “capital” of Tibet, has been turned into a museum for Chinese tourists. Fifty years ago, the city was reachable only by yak, horse, or on foot. Today, Lhasa is easily accessible by plane, train, and car, courtesy of Chinese development. Most of the old city has been torn down, paving way for a “new,” fake, old city, that is clean and fit for tourism. Monks are paraded around as puppets in a play run by an oppressor who lacks the desire to genuinely understand Tibetan Buddhism other than for a tourist ploy to make money.
And yet, Tibetans are proud, resilient, and full of identity. Despite the oppression, their culture is full bodied, and many Buddhists of the Gelug church still look to the Dalai Llama as their leader, even if in forced secrecy. These ideals are not in line with Chinese modernization, and the two opposing sides are locked in an uneven power struggle. Tibetans are being forced to change their ancient practices in an ever-changing geopolitical landscape, leading to today’s Modern Tibet.