Should We Really Boycott Lhasa Beer?

The TibetTruth Blog (See here) has been running a campaign against the Lhasa Brewery Company Ltd. and it’s importer Lhasa Beer USA, labeling the product as:

…yet another form of cultural oppression waged against Tibetans by the occupying communist Chinese regime. Its mass production and ready availability is producing worrying levels of alcoholism among the Tibetan population.

I was shocked to hear about the statistics concerning the alcoholism problem in Tibet, outlined in the post Alcohol-China’s Weapon of  Choice,” on the TibetTruth Blog (See here).

According to a 2008 field-study, in part conducted by Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College in London, the extent of alcohol related disorders has reached 31.6% for males and nearly 10 % for women. While a 2003 investigation recorded that “Alcohol use disorder was the most serious problem in Tibet with a point prevalence of 41.89‰ and a lifetime prevalence of 43.6%.A number of associated mental health problems were also noted amongst those Tibetans examined with neuroses reaching a level of 26.7% and over 20% instance of anxiety related disorders.

But what really is the root of this alcoholism among Tibetans in Tibet? Is it simply because the alcohol is available to Tibetans – like the TibetTruth Blog states, or is it a deeper social environment problem where Tibetans turn to alcohol as an escape from the misery of the systematic unfairness and injustice they suffer from, which leaves many Tibetans with no job, due to lack of education and/or unfamiliarity with the Han Chinese language and ways, and forces many Tibetans to suddenly move from the land they were accustomed to living on to a modern city or a “concentrated settlement” (See here)

If the answer is the latter then how will we help this problem by not supporting this company, which according to the information from the Lhasa Beer website (See here), provides jobs to 450 people in Lhasa, of which 72% are Tibetans (324 Tibetans). Of course it would be better if an even larger percentage of these workers were Tibetans but this ratio is quite good considering the Tibetan Government in Exile has stated that Tibetans have become a minority in Lhasa

To say that it is the availability of alcohol that leads to alcoholism is short sighted in my opinion, it overlooks the deeper social environment problem which leads to these high alcoholism statistics. Here in North America we have an abundance of alcohol which is very easy to get, not to mention the strong marketing of the alcohol companies which we are subjected to, yet we do not have high alcoholism rates in the forty percent range. Therefore, is it really the abundance of alcohol that leads to alcoholism? I don’t believe so,  I think this sort of thinking is similar to the argument that decriminalizing or providing more leniency for marijuana would lead to more users but many studies have shown that decriminalization would have no effect on the rates of use.

I believe that by supporting this company, which has a “commitment to donate 10% of company profits and equity to support direct philanthropic intervention in Tibet,” we will help in improving the social environment Tibetans live in, which in turn would help solve the problem of alcoholism among Tibetan communities in Tibet while also supporting the 324 Tibetans workers who depend on this company for their livelihood in the city of Lhasa where the job markets are already largely dominated by the Han Chinese.

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29 thoughts on “Should We Really Boycott Lhasa Beer?

  1. Rinchen Rangzen

    It is a sad reality of the current Tibet situation when Tibetans, in their once proud nation’s capital, are reduced to begging for charity from their own oppressors. Being grateful to the Han Chineses for 10% of profit sales ‘promised’ to the so called “direct philanthropic intervention in Tibet” is just adding insult to injury. Many sucessful Tibetan entrepreneurs have been imprisoned today, under accusations of involvment during last years protests. I suspect some to have been detained only as a means to rid the local competition. Tibetans, at this point in time, may not be able to produce nuclear weapons, but they can surely brew a beer! I advocate for Tibetan owned & operated businesses in Tibet.

  2. tibettruth

    Employing ‘red-herring’ responses to avoid the central issues does not strengthen the credibility of any argument which, on the dubious and baseless assumption of supposed benefits to Tibetans, tolerates the exploitation of Tibet and its people through the insidious promotion of alcohol across Tibet.

    Just to repeat for the benefit of understanding, alcoholism is increasing inside Tibet-Fact, Prior to the invasion of Tibet there was no industrialized production of alcohol, no proliferation of bars, night clubs, or karaoke bars-Fact. Nor were Tibetan towns and cities dripping with adverts for beer, as many are now-Fact. As such Tibettruth opposes, what is part of the machinery of communist China’s cultural oppression, it does so in full knowledge of the social injustice and crippling poverty experienced by Tibetans, however the nature of this campaign is focused upon how alcohol is used as yet another tool of oppression and exploitation against the Tibetan people, a cynical assault, courtesy of the colonialist policies of communist China.

    It is irrelevant that the company in question, Lhasa Brewery Company Limited, has foreign investment, that does not moderate any of the odious aspects of this issue, and we must recall too that this is a communist Chinese enterprise that benefits the occupying Regime by serving as a propaganda project. Like the overwhelming majority of business in occupied Tibet it’s managed and staffed by Chinese colonizers, any claim that it employs Tibetans, or benefits local Tibetans in a wider economic sense, must be treated with extreme caution. Why? Because the originator of such fact-free assertions is China’s Ministry of Propaganda (Xinhua et al). No one possessed of any normal intelligence or integrity can invest any belief in the transparent disinformation peddled by such official mouthpieces.

    As to the philanthropic ventures in Tibet, which we are asked to believe (without any exact detail of which projects will gain and in what way) will seemingly receive 10 percent of the profits, this does not remove the fact that Lhasa Beer is a major supplier of alcohol across Tibet, that alcoholism is rising, supplied and encouraged by an expanding production from Lhasa Beer, that this company is supported and influenced by the communist Chinese regime, nor that alcohol is used as a corrosive weapon of oppression to undermine Tibetan society and create dependency.

    Anyone with even a limited understanding of what is happening in Tibet will recognize a propaganda exercise when they see it, and it has not escaped our attention, nor that of a number of our subscribers, that China’s Ministry of Propaganda has been very careful to feature the Lhasa Beer Limited Company http://english.chinatibetnews.com/news/Business/2009-06/12/content_258602.htm and the fact that its exporting to the United States as yet another exercise in disinformation. To create the illusion of a prosperous and contented Tibet. Even the imagery on the label has been crafted to convey that lie, and maybe you will note that the dominant color used just happens to be the same color scheme as communist China’s national flag! Every bottle sold in California is spreading such distortions.

  3. I’m not disputing the fact that there is a rising rate of alcoholism in Tibet, I’m disputing the link between the availability of alcohol and the rate of alcoholism, which TibetTruth has not proven. Nor have you proven how “alcohol is used as yet another tool of oppression and exploitation against the Tibetan people, a cynical assault, courtesy of the colonialist policies of communist China.

    Also from the posts I’ve seen on your blog and also on the Lhasa Beer website I’ve yet to see any beer label where a dominant red color is used, I’ve seen one that is dominantly green and another on the Lhasa Beer website that is dominantly yellow. In any case, even if the label were dominantly red that’s not something that would convince that it is propaganda just because it happens to be the same color as the Chinese flag. I don’t believe TibetTruth is looking at this with a clear lens, you can’t make assertions from things you can’t prove.

  4. Tibet Supporter

    Duntak-

    Thank you for your clear arguments about why simply boycotting Lhasa Beer is misguided at best. Yes, there is a time and place for boycotts, but this campaign makes Tibetans and their supporters look confused at best. Yes, alcoholism is a growing problem in Tibet and has been for decades. In the same way, if you take a close look around it is also an big problem in exile- not because the Chinese government is pouring beer down people’s throats, or because Lhasa Beer is sold on every corner, but because of the experience of being a refugee, psychological trauma, etc.

    To target a beer company that is trying to make a difference and employing a lot of Tibetans in Lhasa, trying to have a minimal environmental impact- and giving 10% back is a waste of time and resources while Tibetans are still dying in Tibet. There are many other corporations that have a much bigger impact on Tibet, mining companies, oil companies…..so many good targets. We as a movement really need to be more strategic in picking our battles, so that we get the best results for our efforts. All this campaign will do is to take down someone who is trying to find a way to help. If you are interested in how alcoholism continues to oppress the Tibetans (and many others) and changing that, maybe you should start by educating the community about what alcoholism really is and how the problem is much bigger than the beer you drink.

  5. A Tibetan

    Jigme I totally agree. Often times we in exile forget, regardless of the oppression Tibetans inside are facing, doesn’t change the fact that 5-million of live and have to live in that system. And questioning the rise of alcoholism is what needs to be emphasized. We are too naive if we think the rise of alcoholism is purely due to the availability of it, rather what causes people to turn to alcoholism.

    There have been many researches done both on Tibet and other indigenous communities dealing with alcoholism due to economic disadvantage, denial of ones cultural identity through different institutional systems and etc. If alcohol was non existent in Tibet, Tibetans would turn to something else to try to forget the oppressions they face.

    It should also be noted again that Lhasa Beer employs Tibetans(70%). It is so much easier for us to be sitting in our homes comfortably, with enough money to pay our bills and sending our children to good schools, and campaigning against this company while not realizing those 70% Tibetans livelihoods depend on this companies.

    Personally, I feel this energy could be better spent on the bigger Mine and Oil foreign companies in Tibet.

    Yes, we Tibetans have to fight against the oppressive Chinese regime, but we also need to keep in mind that Tibetans inside Tibet (who are already systematically disadvantaged) live there and are economically disadvantaged on top of the oppressive environment they live in.

    We need to learn to pick our battles better.

  6. tibettruth

    Such a fallacious response does not address the fact that the production, availability and consumption of alcohol across Tibet has rocketed following the communist Chinese invasion, more so in recent years. The burden of proof is actually upon those who absurdly suggest that there is no relationship between the mass-production, marketing and cheapness of alcohol and rates of alcoholism, a non sequitur argument. One may as well state that there is no correlation between opium production in Afghanistan and heroin usage in the USA. We are not addressing the straw-man arguments about causal factors, they are obvious, the concern is that the production and prominence of cheap alcohol across Tibet is yet another form of oppression which suits the purposes of communist China, in its efforts to marginalise and dismember Tibetan society. No Tibetan in exile or otherwise can argue that a growing alcoholism among Tibetans serves the Tibetan cause for freedom, only China gains from a fractured and stupified TIbetan community.

    No one, who has even a basic grasp of the appalling range of abuse inside Tibet, or communist China’s policies to erode and Sinocise Tibetan culture, will be persuaded by inane arguments that effectively counsel silence on such oppression in the absence of evidence. Using such flawed reasoning (i.e.: “you can’t make assertions from things you can’t prove”) presumably this individual would have callously disregarded the testimony of Jewish and Gypsy refugees on the Holocaust, and justified making no condemnatory assertion, on the basis there was no proof at that time! Such merciless scepticism masquerading as objectivity is puzzling to say the least. In a forensic sense (but do remember folks that we are talking a people and culture under threat here) there is no independently conclusive evidence for a number of environmental, cultural and human rights issues inside Tibet. Do those concerned with Tibet then maintain a polite silence and wait for the emergence of empirical proof, while the violations and cultural assault continues?

    Regarding the philanthropic claims associated with this communist Chinese company, it is almost touching to note how uncritically such obvious propaganda has been received, yet those who recognize the lies and disinformation, which characterises the communist Chinese regime, will not be deflected by the claim of some profit being donated to Tibetans. Whatever the facts, and there seems to be a significant lack of detail and clarity, some have questioned if this is no more than an ethical fig-leaf, a cynical ploy to dilute understandable concerns about such a ethically controversial product?

    On the subject of well-meaning, but limited, aid projects, it must be noted that these legitimize Chinese occupation, compromise those who are actively involved and obscure and distract from the true picture of the situation inside Tibet. While no analogy is ever perfect the following illustrates the point. Imagine a cruel and authoritarian prison-governor allowing a charity to enter a one or two cells in that prison to improve conditions for those inmates by re-decorating. While those privileged prisoners may look-up at their freshly decorated walls and think, of that is an improvement, all around them the vast majority continue to live in terrible conditions with abuse, suppression and violence. Meanwhile, the charity involved is so concerned with doing, what it deems good-work, that it won’t say too much about the situation, for fear of not being allowed back in the prison. So the truth is damaged and obscured. This happens too with Tibet, such projects invest a worrying legitimacy in China’s occupation of Tibet, while compromising those actively involved, and obscuring the true situation.

    Examining the situation carefully it is difficult not to conclude that this company is exploiting Tibet and its culture, in full knowledge of the circumstances inside. It claims to be fully independent, if so why on its website does it feature such a distorted and diluted account of Tibet? Why does it not mention, even-in-passing, what is causing the inequalities and injustices forced upon Tibetans? The answer may well be that it’s shamelessly compromised itself in pursuit of communist Chinese profits?

    Beyond the specious suggestions and academic evasion some things are plainly wrong, this being such a case, anyone who considers alcoholism inside Tibet as a minor issue is either lying, or plainly ignorant. It is no small matter. While subscribers and members of Tibettruth actively campaign on a range-of-issues affecting Tibet and its people, there remains serious concern at this cynical exploitation. However we have a sense that is not an absence of facts that informs the indifference and scepticism on display here, rather a venality of mind and lack of integrity that chooses to ignore and deny this insidious corrosion of Tibetan culture, and the role of those companies who profit from that.

  7. Tibet Supporter

    you state: “On the subject of well-meaning, but limited, aid projects, it must be noted that these legitimize Chinese occupation, compromise those who are actively involved and obscure and distract from the true picture of the situation inside Tibet.”

    So let me get this straight. You would prefer that the hundreds of students that have been educated in Tibet (many in the Tibetan language) should not be educated because the well meaning Tibetans in Exile and NGO’s that have supported the education projects, are simply legitimizing Chinese rule, and unaware of what is really happening in Tibet? Surely you don’t suggest that teachers, Tibetan program officers, and others who risk their well-being to build and run schools unknowingly take on these risks. The reality on the ground is that schools are needed and Tibetans themselves want them.

    you then go on to say….

    “anyone who considers alcoholism inside Tibet as a minor issue is either lying, or plainly ignorant.”

    I have not seen anyone on this blog deny that alcoholism in Tibet is a problem, or the fact that cheap easy access to beer is part of the problem. But, alas it is only part of the problem.

    If you want to boycott Lhasa Beer go for it, but no that you are not stopping alcoholism in Tibet, but potentially taking away a number of good jobs for Tibetans- which I am sure we can agree, are hard to come by under the current situation in Tibet.

  8. Tenzin Tsepak

    Drinking is a “culture” that has always been popular in many east Asian countries, specifically China, Korea and Japan. It is not only in Tibet that people drank more but it is all over the East Asian belt starting from Nepal to the far east Japan that people drink.

    Now how is it that the places whith the most number of men and women drinkers have managed to stay ahead in development? Could a relationship be drawn between the two? And if so, is there a positive relationship between the two? Look at countries like Japan and Korea. They are among the most developed, not just in Asia but in the world.

    I feel that sometimes we get carried away in our analysis so much that we start not making any sense. Tibetans in Tibet are not forced to drink and I am not sure if the wide availability of alcohol alone is the reason why Tibetans in Tibet drink. As one of the commentators pointed out, may be people drank more because they are depressed but it is only common sense that in all cold regions of the world people drank more. Look at Russia, Sweden and the Scandinavian countries.

    In fact in Tibet we drank a lot even before the Chinese came. If you’ve grown up in exile in a Tibetan community or in Tibet, one would surely remember. In the early days, Dharamsala was amok with alcoholic wife beaters. Even His Holiness knows the story and during many Losar speeches to the people he would tell the Tibetans to cut down on their drinking. Also, what is the history of Majnukatila? Did the Chinese teach us Tibetans how to make Chang?

  9. Angie

    I’ve conversed with one of the officials of the Lhasa Beer USA company, who explained to me that the yellow label with red font, as well as the image on the label itself, was designed by a Tibetan artist.

    Alcoholism is a big issue in exile, as well, but many Tibetans themselves seem to prefer not to deal with this issue head-on. A group of American university students came to India to ask about alcohol and drug abuse, and every Tibetan student they asked (specificially, these were Tibetan students attending Indian universities) denied the very idea of alcohol being a problem in exile, preferring to cast it as a problem within Tibet, a problem stemming from the harsh oppression of Tibetans by the Chinese government. Ironically, at the same college where they were interviewed, there are several students and staff who have problems with alcohol consumption.

    If you’re going to boycott the import of Lhasa Beer, that’s one thing, but realize that the boycott of an American company who has little to do with the Chinese company isn’t going to affect the Lhasa Beer (green label) currently being sold all over the Tibetan plateau.

  10. R

    Availability of beer has nothing to do with alcoholism in Tibet. Alcoholics drink CHANG, which is actually affordable to the disenfranchised. A giant (1-2L) bottle of chang costs between 2 and 3 RMB ($0.30-0.45 USD) in Lhasa. A normal-size (less than 1/2 L) bottle of beer costs 7-10 RMB ($1.00-1.50 USD), roughly the same price as in Western countries and way above the budget of most alcoholics in Tibet. Beer is the drink of privilege there, not a cheap way to get drunk.

    I don’t doubt that Jeff Bowe (“Tibettruth”) is well-meaning, but he is very disconnected from the reality inside Tibet and his views often come across abrasive and patronizing. Jeff, please stick to reporting on the facts of specific atrocities that have happened to people and energizing people to care, and stop second-guessing the views and needs of the people you want to stand up for. Especially in cases like this where a Tibetan business is involved, you need to step back and take your lead from Tibetans – and moreover, from those living IN Tibet – rather than being the inji yelling “boycott!”

  11. Billy Jack Douthwright

    It certainly is good to see a debate on this! I appreciate the evolution of arguments against promoting a boycott of this particular brand of beer produced in Tibet and being exported, even though my own point of view tends toward a certain/definite concern and apprehension about this type of industry being promoted in Tibet today- and some thoughts:
    – It is mentioned that there is foreign investment in the brewery operating in Tibet? And also is mentioned that the US importer (perhaps the same entity?) is somehow not very directly involved with ‘issues’ in Tibet or to do with the ownership of the brewery? Well, since we are aware of Tibetan’s struggles in Tibet– and agreed many much more than others, I do wish I had more awareness but at least am glad that Tibet’s government in exile and a few other very reputable Tibetan organizations ceaselessly dig for the current truths and make these known to the world– could it be considered appropriate for the US importer to demonstrate their social awareness and responsibility by digging into some of the issues and making the commercial/consumer availability of the product a conduit to promote broader public awareness=a form of very direct economic action if nothing more, and even hopefully might offer ways to greater engagement?
    – I do need to respond from my personal viewpoint on the side of a call to boycott, but want to make clear that this is not necessarily in support of a a boycott per se. I don’t want to contradict my own thought/idea just jotted and more so would tend to be more interested in what those supporting the brewery enterprise in Tibet may be able to discern about its direct benefits to Tibetans within Tibet, however though, my point of view is to speak directly to the combined issue of alcoholism(in all its variants, including the consumer/commercial/marketing aspects) and the Tibetan issue of foreign occupation, since this is my own understanding and main emphasis of support for ‘Tibetans’ Just Cause’. My point of view comes to you as a First Nation-Onyota’a:ka, of this continent Onowaregeh(Turtle-Island, N. America), and I simply wish to drive home the point that if you really open your eyes and look at the historical relationship between alcohol and the disenfranchisement of the original inhabitants of this continent, who today continue to suffer under foreign oppression, whole-scale theft of our property (land, resources, etc.), and become aware of the direct correlations between rates of alcoholism, and more recently newer forms of drug abuse, you will see clearly that this is in fact a major issue that must be examined fully to understand the potential dangers to Tibetans within Tibet. Alcoholism particularly, being as it is so well integrated within and across global markets, as well as having a high status of social acceptance around the world, is one of the more insidious forms of colonial oppression employed by foreign interests to disenfranchise peoples of their inherent rights to economic self-determination. So what I’m getting to is that while I would want to side with and support those looking seriously and comprehensively at the pros & cons of this type of industry growing up in Tibet, I will ultimately only consider this as supportably viable from an ethical point of view once I know that Tibetans themselves are fully in charge of owning their rightful economic interests, which would mean full, or at the very least majority ownership of this particular company and all others operating within Greater Tibet.
    Two quick observations that I’m noting here as food for thought on this issue:
    i.- In an increasing number of First Nation and Inuit communities across Onowaregeh, the sale of and in some case(usually remote communities) even the availability of alcohol has been entirely banned. Banning alcohol in this way has been seen as instrumental to a number of individual nation’s collective determination to regain peaceful community life and to reinstate fundamental forms of community based decision making to enable communities to begin to reverse the high levels of youth suicides and numerous other severe and chronic social problems perpetuated under colonial influence. A key element that I must mention is that this kind of an inclusive community based decision happens according to a generally held understanding and valuing of respect for all that is central to First Nations’ governance, and a very positive result of this is that the individual & collective transformations brought about by this kind of decision can in every case be seen to be accompanied by a strong resurgence of spiritual values and institutions that had been previously suppressed and de-valued!
    ii. Something of great interest to this that I just read the other day, is a survey taken in India{Bharat} that reports that two thirds of Indian young people consider the consumption of alcohol to be socially unacceptable. That is very interesting news on this subject to me and I cannot think of another instance anywhere where I’ve seen such results of a survey like this?!

  12. Dor Y

    Actually, I think it would make a lot more sense to boycott PBR (that’s Pabst Blue Ribbon for you non-drinkers), which is a big international company selling well in Tibet, I’ve heard. Not to squash a small start-up in Lhasa. What for? The economics of it all, especially when it comes to boycotting actions, concerns me more than the drinking, I must admit. I think beer is great. Wine is great. These drinks can be good for human beings in every way. Tibetans have been enjoying chang since forever, perhaps since the time of ancient Sumerians more or less.

    In moderation of course, and without driving afterward. Won’t say the same for whiskey. Nope. Whiskey is bad in every way!

    I tend to agree with “R”…

  13. M

    Just to answer one of TibetTruths questions:

    “Why does it [Lhasa Beer’s website] not mention, even-in-passing, what is causing the inequalities and injustices forced upon Tibetans?”

    Because they can’t. If you are doing business at all in Tibet or with Tibet, you have to be careful about the way you say things about the government, or you get shut down. I’m coming from the perspective of someone who works for a Tibetan non-profit that is sometimes criticized for not speaking out against China. But the reason we do that is because when we keep our mouths shut, we are allowed to go inside and accomplish meaningful change for impoverished Tibetans. We all can’t be political. While the political groups are lobbying for change and bringing about awareness of the situation in Tibet, the apolitical groups are quietly going inside and providing clean water and medical supplies to Tibetans. Both are needed.

    But I digress. My point is, I read through Lhasa Beer’s website, and it does not come off as propaganda at all. It comes off as a company who is trying not to use divisive language. Go to the “Statistics about Tibet” section. They are expressing concern about the situation in Tibet without assigning blame for those problems. That’s about as much as I would expect from a for-profit beer company. So I would not interpret their lack of strong language as “solidarity with the enemy”

  14. Jodie Hawthorne

    The only 2 posters on this forum seem the least bit realistic are Tenzin Tsepak and M-the NGO worker. Thank god there are some people in the world that are not in denial about Tibetan society-both before and after the Chinese occupation(Tenzin Tsepak) and are doing some work on the ground rather than chanting “free Tibet” from the sidelines(M). Good for you two. Others need to think about the motives behind their actions and words and maybe do something more constructive towards assisting Tibetans in Tibet. Drinking is a very big problem in Tibetan society, it has always been a problem. Beer is better than a “warm blanket” (rice or barley wine which is like drinking metho). My best friend’s Tibetan partner died from alcoholic poisoning in Gyalthang. He was a wonderful young man from Batang, he worked for the Tibetan Television station as a TV presenter. This has nothing to do with the Chinese. This problem is an internal problem within Tibetan society. Domestic violence, many times spurred on by alcohol is a big problem in Tibet, also has nothing to do with Chinese influence. A young tour guide was murdered by her husband in Gyalthang a few years ago-another alcohol and domestic violence issue. Please don’t blame the Chinese for Tibetan social problems, these have always existed within Tibetan society.

  15. Billy Jack Douthwright

    I absolutely do blame the PRC’s illegal & brutal occupation of Tibet for the lion’s share of every single contemporary ill within Tibetan society today. To not do so & be suggesting that the Chinese occupation of Tibet is not fully responsible is incredibly naive.
    Points that this particular company might not be the best available target to be calling for a boycott, might have some validity if comparing on the basis of environmental impacts, THOUGH, as far as being detrimental to the very social fabric of Tibetan society, this type of enterprise, with the foreign investment component and the propaganda machine supporting it is likely of greater significance in fact on the socio-political front; And noting that abuse of alcohol has always been an issue is quite likely correct, as it must be for virtually every society to some degree. It would seem fair to expect that with modern-contemporary understanding that to be able to say that the PRC occupation is not contributing unduly to this escalating issue within Tibet, that the levels and severities of contemporary alcohol abuse cases there should be roughly equivalent to how it is in Bhutan today. I wonder how one finds these studies to understand the comparative realities faced by the two societies? And, would such studies coming out of contemporary Tibet be reliable?
    I do not just sit on the side-lines and express my view-point in support of Tibet. I go out of my way to not purchase anything produced in the PRC & encourage everyone else to do so as well! How could anyone conscionable, be in league with the PRC through their personal economic choices?

  16. Jodie Hawthorne

    just another comment on the post by “Angie” and “R” above. I must have missed your posts somehow. Thanks so much for pointing this out about alcoholism in Tibet and drinking in Exile communities. Jeff Bowe may be well-meaning as you suggest, but he surely does not know the real situation in Tibet. When I left Tibet my Tibetan partner had been involved in a brawl that ended in a knife fight (which is common in many Tibetan communities in Tibet) the slash along the back of his head to his neck was around 20cm long and deep, he almost died. This is an internal problem and I will be damned if I will let anybody blame the Chinese Government or Chinese influence for these Tibetan social problems. Free Tibet but no crazy propaganda please!

  17. Jodie Hawthorne

    I would like to direct people from here over to the website of Jamyang Norbu to see the way that Free-Tibet supporters have no qualms in insulting Tibetans from Tibet. Normally I would not comment on that site but when I realised that a Tibetan man named Choni was being insulted by non-Tibetan and Tibet Rangzen supporters I decided to have a say. It was not nice and I got pretty fired up (probably should not have said some of that stuff?) Note how Tibetan Mastiff comes full circle, at first criticises Jeff Bowe, then turns on me. Now I am a Chinese spy!

    see it here: http://www.jamyangnorbu.com/blog/2009/12/17/unleashing-the-r-word/

    I commend this site and thank you for allowing freedom of speech and other perspectives to enter the world of www

  18. Billy Jack Douthwright

    … To, Jody Hawthorne, be damned then! You can go on admitting you are a PRC spy of some kind, or not, all you want, I couldn’t care less– you very clearly are a very typical PRC apologist, the kind that one routinely discovers trolling free speech forums. You can be damned because you are either insufficiently educated to be able to make the sociological connection between the PRC occupation and an issue such as growing rates of alcoholism in Tibet, or you may be a willfully ignorant individual with intent to absolve the PRC’s negative influences throughout Tibet society, and furthermore your lack of ability to fully contextualize the circumstances and harrowing incident you describe in Tibet now begins to color your story as being more a cover to try and legitimize your PRC propaganda. It is clearly people like you who remain blind to the real situation in Tibet…

  19. Jodie Hawthorne

    Tenzin Tsepak and Angie have already commented on this Jack, but for some reason you missed them and came to attack me on this. Do you think after living more than a decade in China and Tibet and conducting research there, volunteering NGO projects and the like that I do not know the situation well enough to comment? I know people like you Jack. It is only when you come across people that really threaten you that you get your back up and start to bully people, isn’t it? The situation for indigenous people of Canada and Australia are similar, that is why the Australian and Canadian governments often duplicate approaches to the problem of alcoholism for these two particular groups. Tibetans cannot be viewed in the same light. You sound like a classic Tibetan apologist that refuses to see truth, even when a Tibetan comes forward with it. You sound like the same sort of person that would apologise for the abuses against Dorje Shudgen followers and the killing of Chinese and Hui Muslims residents in Lhasa. I don’t take sides, I just tell it how I see it after investigating all of the fact on hand. I refuse to be a sheep and just follow the flock, I seek out information that is neither pro-Tibet or pro-China; this is the only way to have an independent and informed opinion. Are you saying that I am making up those stories? I give up, the world is full of sheep. Ever heard of lemmings?

  20. Billy Jack Douthwright

    Responding to, Jodie Hawthorne,

    First of all I should say that I do not find your opinion personally threatening, at all really, and if your personal experience leads you to believe that this is how it is for Tibetans, and you are honestly sure that you are not seeking to absolve the PRC occupation from being accountable for the genocidal policies it has been carrying out whole-scale & relentlessly, and continues to, then by all means continue to press your point of view. You can~should do so anyway( and not be a sheep/lemming)- my attack is not to be suggesting that you shouldn’t speak of what you know, I am really more & in fact yes vehemently concerned that you are switching the blame, and fatally so.
    I would not be making any excuses for any historical abuses of one peoples or groups against another. I am generally philosophically very opposed to all forms of ‘organized religion’, so it would not figure into my support of Tibetans in any exceptional sense, but I support their fundamental human right of full freedom and self determination as a people, including their religious freedoms, of course.
    I also have to add that you have again shown a rather extreme level of ignorance in referring to “indigenous peoples of Canada and Australia”. This incredibly archaic faux pas unmistakably declares your mind-set concerning the fundamental issue of RANGZEN. Civilized nations around the globe came to understand the moral deficiencies of colonialism during the last century, & none too soon. It is therefore high time for China to rid itself of the PRC polity & bring itself up to this basic level of ethical governance/understanding of society/ the place that China is expected, by all, to occupy in the world/ Chinese know this themselves even as they are being their normal stubborn and prideful selves about admitting the fact. I am writing from Onowaregeh, which you no doubt still consider to be “North America”– yes, that does make you a lemming, and on the wrong side of the historical future. Don’t give up anyway! I don’t have much in the way of particularly relevant insights to offer but am quite happy to insert these kinds of basic facts in the debate.

    Best, Billy.

  21. Dawa

    “Jodie,” mollymagna, whatever you want to call yourself. It is clear by your language style you are not an English speaker by birth. My favorite version of you is where you pretend to be an Anglo-pretending to be a Chinese-pretending to be an Anglo.

    Which version of yourself are you this time the one with or without Tibetan kids? I wish zero bad feelings to you as a personal human being. My destructive thoughts extend only to your fake persona, and the pain that arises in others as the result of it

  22. Jodie Hawthorne

    Dawa, you seem a little confused. I am an Australian woman. I was born in Tasmania (an island state of Australia) of a British mother and a Mixed race Anglo father. My mother tongue is English, but I can speak some mandarin Chinese and a little Tibetan. MOF I do have 2 children, one has a Chinese Han/Mongolian father and the other has a Tibetan father. I am a widely published poet, a painter, a folklore graduate (Tibetan Folklore). I understand your frustrations, but you fail to understand the frustration of others that are effected by the war against the Chinese people and the unnoticed war against the West that is being played out in the Free-Tibet movement. I wish you all the best.

  23. salinity

    Wow- I bought the beer tonight ’cause it was on sale ($5.66/ 6pk) and I was hoping to support a community / culture / country I deeply respect (yes, I still consider Tibet it’s own country – and in no way, shape, or form do I pretend to know what is really going on). I had no idea the controversy that surrounded this beer.

    I think the beer itself is actually pretty good.

  24. Molly

    Dawa, you are sile from Phayul AKA known as Shiela Shipley and you should stop the war against Jodie Hawthorne…you just look like a fool…

    the academic literature to back up some of Miss Hawthorne’s story are here for the world to see-interviews with 25 Tibetan men in that township (most possibly even known to Miss Hawthorne) if you have a JSTOR account you can search this article by title:

    “Macho Minority, Masculinity and Ethnicity on the Edge of Tibet” by Ben Hillman & Lee-Anne Henfry, Australian National University (BTW these observations come from Hillman’s 3 plus years of fieldwork in Tibetan areas-NOT LIKE SILE’S FLASH IN THE PAN EXPERIENCES THAT COUNT FOR @#$% ALL!!)

    excerpts from the 22 page article:

    “…a masculine man would never show affection to his wife, even in the form of inquiring about her comfort or well-being. He should never, for example, ask her if she is hungry or cold…a man can love his wife with his heart, it was not manly to show it. Tibetan men also found it more phokhyokha for a man to spend time in male company rather than at home with his family. When Tibetan men talked about relationships with women outside the family, they were lighthearted. They viewed sexual conquest as a measure of man’s virility. Interestingly, nearly all the young Tibetan men aged 20 to 30 with whom we spoke claimed that Han Chinese and Western women were more valuable conquests than Tibetan women.

    One of the most potent Tibetan symbols of masculinity is the knife. Tibetan knives are an essential component of traditional male attire…In fact, knives, and their frequent use in fights have prompted a number of Tibetan towns to outlaw wearing them in public. “If you are in a fight and you show the steel of your blade you must draw blood.”…Han Chinese in Lhasa said they were afraid to go out after dark for fear of being attacked by Tibetans. While the extent of Tibetan male pugnacity is impossible to quantify, many, including Tibetans themselves, reported to us Tibetan men’s willingness to use force to settle a dispute or defend against a perceived insult.

    Yet we did not find that Tibetan men demonstrated a “protest masculinity.” That is, their masculine ideals did not emerge entirely as a reaction to the hegemonic masculinity, but drew from Tibetans’ own heritage and cultural norms. When it came to heavy drinking, for example, an activity associated with protest masculinities (Connell, 1995), our Tibetan respondents admitted that it was an attribute of a manly man…Tibetan men enjoyed competing in drinking games because it was an opportunity for male bonding…”

    end of excerpt.

    Don’t know about you? but certainly not the type of place I would like to live as a female or bring my kids up!!

  25. Drolma Kyid

    Molly in this day and age, such generalisations are no longer accepted. Not every Tibetan man “wields a knife” or even has a knife.

    I think you feel we are living in the American prairies of 1800s, with “savages” everywhere.

    Tibetans today actually have school education. We have cellphones. I have many Chinese friends who I can tell you are not “afraid of Tibetan men.”

    Do you live in a country where no men drink alcohol…I never heard of this country. I don’t understand why Tibetan men cannot enjoy a beer with friends or I cannot enjoy a glass of wine without fear of someone saying it’s bad for Tibetans to drink, while everyone else is free to enjoy it. There is no law against enjoying wine or beer in Tibetan society. In fact Tibetan chang beer is an old tradition. And in fact chang has far less alcohol per gulp than Budweiser.

    I have seen the above exerpt posted endlessly around the internet in an attempt to make Tibetans look like some strange kind of wild savage. I don’t understand why you are so focused on this. It seems like it’s not healthy.

  26. As an outside observer who knows only a little more than most people know about Tibet, I looked up Lhasa Beer to see if it was indeed pro-Tibet or not.

    I first looked at the web site for Lhasa Beer and while it seemed “good” enough I was stricken by the obvious lack of any mention of the Dalai Lama. This made me wonder if the Chinese were involved. The 10% of profits going to charity included some Buddhist nuns but the Dalai Lama was not mentioned at all and “Buddhism” was barely mentioned. I had to wonder why…

    I found this blog and read the arguments.

    I can see both sides to some degree. Certainly giving jobs to Tibetans and helping some women in Tibet is a good thing. But pushing beer to Tibet is certainly not a Buddhist concept and certainly this cannot be helping Tibet. I happen to think the beer is very good (I just bought my first – and last – six pack.) but is marketing beer to Tibetans really what Tibet needs?

    The bottom line is that even I – as a casual observer of this controversy – can recognize that Lhasa Beer is an attempt to make money off of Tibetan culture while kow-towing to those who want nothing more than to ultimately destroy it- who have gone in fact to great lengths to destroy it.

    It is a shame that Tibetans have to work in a brewery to survive because the Chinese came in and screwed up their country, their culture and their way of life. Sure the Tibetans who work there no doubt are better off than if they had no jobs at all.

    However it seems obvious that Lhasa Beer is a profitable enterprise by Carslberg Brewery designed mostly to make money off the Tibetan culture of the past while pretending to help preserve it – but only as far as the Chinese government agrees is okay.

    I will not buy any more Lhasa beer even though I thought it tasted great. Hopefully they will produce it somewhere else where it is not contributing and in effect condoning the genocide of a beautiful culture and people.

    Eff the Chinese government and all who condone its imperialistic and just plain disgusting practices.

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