viewer discussion


If nothing else, the question of Tibet has brought into high relief the fact that American foreign policy is formed on Wall Street and not Main Street. Until policy is 'linked' to values in our own society, we will be unable to effectively speak to the world with any authority. Unfortunately, national and international corporations are only loyal to the almighty Bottom Line and these are the ones who now own the American political system. I'm afraid that for Tibet, any public concern is too little, too late.

Carl Manz
Bastrop, Texas


Great program on Tibet. It is of great concern to me that the leader of China is currently getting the red carpet treatment from our government. The Chinese government is a brutal communist dictatorship. Their destruction of the Tibetan culture is mindless. How can we extend "most favored nation" status to China? I cannot believe that our government is not calling for the immediate withdrawal of China from Tibet before their entire culture and history is erased. This is a true case of "ethnic cleansing". How can we have "most favored" relations with these monsters?? Thanks for an informative show.

Ft. Myers, FL


There will one day be freedom in Tibet. But only after Communism falls in China. This sounds obvious but it is masking on only bigger issue, does the U.S. government have the right to judge how another country treats religion within there borders. No, they don't. But we all know there is power in people, and with Hollywood bringing the issue into everyone's living room only then will the Chinese officials begin to bow to the pressure. They are scared of the liberal media NOT the U.S. Government. It's ironic that the only power to save the Tibetans is the greedy, power hungry, materialistic, Hollywood elitist. The very lifestyle they deplore in the teachings of Buddhism. I wish them luck.


I was deeply moved by your story on "Free Tibet". I as an American Citizen am appalled at my government's tacit consent with China's human rights violations. If there is anything I can do to help free the Dali Lama and his successor from exile and imprisonment please let me know. The idea that a 5 year old has been imprisoned is outrageous. Even if it means sacrificing trade policies with China we have to stand up for what we profess to believe in as our forefathers did, and as our religious leaders of the past have done. I will support the movies that have been produced about Tibet and any that come out in the future.

Donna Dent


What is with the rainbow on this site, please there are rainbows in Winnipeg also... your show had no mention of the dalai lamas anti homosexual stance... were are the women in this feudal world,, something is wrong, and your total "worship" of someone who professes equality wants to be called his holiness?? why the bow down to another human if we are all equal..TRY show on what Spanish did to the Aztecs in the name of the catholic church...

Robert Reaume
Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ca.


I find it disturbing that the U.S. government chooses to overlook China's systematic destruction of Tibet - a cultural genocide - because it hopes to take advantage of the tremendous Chinese market. What are we, the leaders of the democratic world or the leaders of a capitalistic regime only concerned with our own economic advantage? The peoples of Tibet embody a very old and sacred knowledge that has generally been forgotten in our postmodern world. Tibetan culture, of which religion plays a major role, emphasizes spiritual not material ascendance. Is it possible that we, as a nation, have so forgotten our spiritual/religious roots, that we don't understand the incredible lesson the Tibetans are not only teaching us, but the world at large? Tibet offers the quintessential path of nonviolent, spiritual resistance to the illusory existence we call reality. We have much to learn from their wisdom. I hope and pray that President Clinton and Congress refuse to allow China g! reater access to our technology until they release their deathgrip on Tibet. Why have we been so willing to rush to the aid of other countries while the people and culture of Tibet is forgotten?

Karen Bewick
Alexandria, Va


About your program "Dreams of Tibet": You seemed to ridicule the romanticism and vacancy of Hollywood's fascination with Tibet, however you yourself did not spend any time on the history of Tibet or its interaction with China. There was no mention of China's historical interventions in Tibetan politics which date back at least to 1706. No mention of the British invasion of Tibet in 1903 which, I thought, would be relevant to your thesis that the West has always seen Tibet as an idyllic Shangri-La which should always remain untouched.

Thank you,
Anoop Sarkar


I appreciated viewing your program on Tibet, I feel the greater exposure to public view of the huge injustices committed upon the people of that sad country, the better! I disagree with the President Clinton about separating human rights issues from our policy with "Red China". Historically, that type of policy always comes back to haunt those who use it. To the movie makers (Disney etc.) I'd like to say "thank you". I look foreward to seeing their films and hope more films about Tibet will be made.

Sylvia C. Welch


Apparently Tibet doesn't have much significance to the rest of the world or a program like this wouldn't be necessary. The UN has done virtually nothing to stop this cultural genocide.

When is our country going to take a stand against China, and revoke MFN trading status? I guess that's a rhetorical question, since big business really determines our foreign policy. Our government won't react to this situation because it doesn't threaten our people or economy. It is unfortunate but true. I commend PBS on the best coverage of the Tibetan issue I've seen to date. Thank you.

Steve Zimic
Mineola, Ny


The program was good but failed to illustrate the relationship of U.S. investment and the Chinese domination of the Tibetan plateau. The old adage of "follow the money" seems appropriate here. Your program did not even mention it except to build the theory that what is good for Boeing is good for the U.S. How about the official corruption of the Chinese bureaucracy and how it is using the system to accumulate wealth? And how that system is supported and enhanced by our foreign policy and investment? To use Kissinger and other mouth pieces for the U.S. corporate elite is even cynical. Why not some really critical comments? Some de-constructionist views of the Chinese political reality? The program was just a tad superficial. But it is a good beginning.

I suppose one theme you could have delved would have been some of the tenets of Buddhism. Several mentions of reincarnation-the most misunderstood of concepts, but nothing on the cycle of ideas and things, including culture. In the end, Buddhism is not Tibet. Tibet is a place. To say that Buddhism belongs in a particular place, especially within a particular hierarchy also misses the point. Tibetans have a culture that is unique and that should be fostered and preserved. But the fact that they have a relationship to Buddhism is not the reason for Tibet.

My suspicion is that Tibet contains quite a lot of mineral wealth. I cannot see the major powers upset over a territory that has no financial promise. Has anyone checked the landsats? Thanks for the opportunity to commune


I would like to say I enjoyed your recent show but I always get a headache everytime I hear about the crimes of the Communist Chinese in Tibet. Although the show was well done as usual, whenever I hear about Tibet it's always the sad story and never what can be done about it. I would have really liked to hear how Henry Kissinger would free Tibet, now that would be especially interesting! Maybe your next show could argue the pros and cons of American policy with respect to Tibet and China, and also cover the various things that ordinary citizens of the Free world could do to help Tibet.

David Reyes


I enjoyed your show tonight and would like to add a few comments & compare the treatment being received by the mainland Chinese leaders now visiting the US and the type of treatment accorded to Cuba.

I was shocked to hear about the house arrest of a 6 year old by the Chinese but based on the Human Rights record of mainland China, it is to be expected. I wonder how many 6 year olds are under house arrest in Cuba?

Of course, the US can give favored-trading status to mainland China and wine & dine their leaders during full state visits with no pangs of conscience. Compare that with the upholding a 35 year economic blockade of the small island of Cuba. This blockade has been condemned by the international community numerous times in the United Nations and by various International organizations like the European Common Market and others..

Who has the better Human Rights record? I don't remember hearing that Castro massacred 200 unarmed students in a peaceful demonstration. I wonder what the relations would be between China & the US if the US were actively encouraging the overthrow of the Chinese government through any means it saw fit. How about being aware of terrorists whose aim it is to kill or set off bombs to scare tourists away from going to Cuba on the holiday?

Then again, if there is MONEY to be made the US government tends to throw morality out the window hence the reception being now given to the Chinese.

What a sad state of affairs. It must be hard to be the morality of the world when you demonstrate bigotry in such international actions.



Orville Schell, for whom I have the highest respect, would have better served the listeners by noting two facts. The first is that Tibet has never achieved diplomatic recognition as an independent state from any nation since the 17th century. While I join those in condemning Chinese efforts to wipe out much of Tibetan life, that does not require an effort to "free Tibet" if it implies recognition as a state. Secondly, one needs some more background to understand how it came to pass that having established sovereignty over Tibet in 1950, the Chinese left virtually all domestic rule to the Tibetans (including the spiritual and secular role of the Dalai Lama up until the uprising of the Tibetans in 1959. Finally, I would differ with Orville's comment that the Dalai Lama has agreed to return to a Tibet under Chinese rule in which he would exercise only his spiritual role. As far as I know, he has never agreed to relinquish his secular role as head of a Tibetan entity.

Amb. David Fischer
San Francisco, CA


While there is great diversity within the animal kingdom; many species will be lost as mankind encroaches further into their world. Unless protected by at great cost within huge natural zoo's; only those able to adapt to the emerging ultra-modern 21st Century will be able to survive.

Even as we decried putting our Native American [Indians] on reservations; we killed, tortured and imprisoned them because they either could not or would not assimilate our modern expansion, religion(s), culture, and socio-economic system.

The people of Tibet now face the same dilemma as our Native Americans. While we and even some Chinese decry their situation, Tibet has become their reservation. Unfortunately, like all animals on this planet... they will either adapt and assimilate into the encroaching culture and socio-economic system, or they will be pushed into the backwater of society till they fade away as surely as other past cultures. Unless of course, they are protected by modern nations at great cost within their own zoo.

David K. Lidia
Honolulu, Hawaii


Your documentary on Tibet broadcasted on October 28, 1997 presented me a Hollywood fair tale about the past and present Tibet, the familiar formula for attention and profit. As a prominent producer of TV documentary, Frontline should have used their own eyes and mouth to document the past and present facts about Tibet, instead of borrowing a large amount of Hollywood scripts in which the directors and stars themselves have never been to Tibet or know very little about Tibet. All these ignored the important fact that Tibet has been part of China and under the jurisdiction of the central government of China since Han Dynasty dated 207 B.C.- A.D. 220, and the Tibetan culture is the part of the Chinese culture both of which were built on the Buddhism. The communist regime has almost wiped out the Buddhism based culture both in inland China and Tibet in the last 50 years, and the communism has never been the part of Chinese culture. The documentary seemed to have created an animosity between Chinese and Tibetan people. History has shown that the mixture of religion, politics and personnel bias could only be misleading and corruptive, which unfortunately is happening in Tibet and US. As a loyal viewer of frontline, I wish I had been informed by the facts and objective description of Tibetan issues instead of borrowing the acting from Hollywood.

William Fangman
Minneapolis, MN


Thank you for another informative and exciting program.
I'm not sure whether to urge my friends to see "7 Years in Tibet" or dissuade them.

Michael Eisner's interview with Charlie Rose, which I had seen in full, was chilling. Eisner's words and attitude provided a graphic illustration of corporate greed winning out over business ethics, although that term seems to be becoming an oxymoron.

It distresses me to think that every ticket purchased enriches him and the Disney Corporation. It distresses me more that pressure from the Chinese government has been so influential in this case. Eisner was actually presented with the perfect opportunity to wrap himself in the flag (and create the biggest pr success for Disney since Walt's days) by publicly supporting the film and assuming a position in defense of freedom of speech and expression. Those are the two human rights issues for which China is most criticized.

One thing I can do is not attend another Disney film or buy another Disney licensed product.

Beth Wotkyns


President Clinton needs to put human rights BEFORE money! We all need to do what we can whether it be through protests, movie making, prayer, meditation, journalism, letter writing, or whatever other means are at our disposal to accomplish the necessary goal: Tibet MUST be freed and MUST be returned to the Tibetans with His Holiness, the Dali Lama, in residence as spiritual head. The U.S. must be a leader in ways that transcend money. The United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights must be enforced by the entire world - INCLUDING China! I pray that His Holiness live to see the day when he can return to a free Tibet. I pray that this be the last incidence of cultural genocide to ever take place in this world.

Mary Ann Coulter
Vineland, NJ


While your show remarked often about the American myth of Tibet as an imagined paradise, you failed to uncover the reality beneath the myth other than Chinese oppression. What existed before the Chinese invasion still had poverty, disease, high infant mortality, and an isolation that restricted other religions and free speech. Tibet is no bastion of hope for the world. It is merely a spotlighted people in need of the same justice from persecution, mercy from the slavery of idolatry, and humility to admit the struggle to find the way in a dark world that the rest of the world has.

Andy Cheely
Birmingham, AL


The story of China's domination over Tibet and it's attempt to suppress free speech is a sad reminder that we have much progress to make in making this a livable and sane world. Upon seeing "Seven Years in Tibet" I have begun to immerse myself in learning all I can about Tibet, it's history, culture and current situation. I keep trying to grasp why it is OK for the Chinese to destroy a people, silence critics, and reinvent history.

Thanks for airing tonight's program, as I found it to be insightful and well done.

Joe Ferrara
Seattle, WA


I want to thank you so much for producing your program Dreams of Tibet. I had the unparalleled experience of bicycling through Southern China the year before Tiananmen Square. This was prior to the requirement of having an "official Chinese escort" on such trips, which is now required, as the country was still experiencing a renaissance in 1988. I witnessed first-hand the wholesale destruction of Buddhist Temples in that country which occurred during the communist takeover and cultural revolution . I also witnessed how cheap human life is in China -- an observation which bore itself out like a thousand pedaled lotus as I watched in sickened horror broadcasts of the massacre in Tiananmen Square a year later. The Chinese Government has no value for human life or freedoms -- it only lusts for power and greed -- echos from a not-too-distant past.

By abducting the Panchen Lama and flooding Lhasa with Chinese nationals the Chinese Government has guaranteed genocide of the Tibetan people. The human race cannot tolerate these policies anymore than we could tolerate Hitler rolling into Poland. Genocide in ANY FORM IS INTOLERABLE. Yet we complacently stand by, just like Poland, as intimidation, murder, and torture continue -- we forget quickly. I wanted to thank Frontline and its producers, writers and directors for presenting this segment. This program was exceptional and very moving.

Jeris J. Miller
Senior Technical Consultant
Lewis & Clark College
Portland, OR


I had a hard time believing your program this week. Not the factual content, which was excellent as usual. Rather, the cause of my astonishment was the idea that a bunch of fatuous Hollywood air heads could possibly imagine that making a couple of fuzzy-headed films might in any way aid Tibet's long struggle for independence. Has the American film making industry really lost touch that much with reality?

Even more appalling is the advantage these cinematic parasites are taking of the Tibetans who are genuinely seeking help for their country. It seems grossly unjust to me these people should be used by a gaggle of Hollywood greed heads to lend legitimacy to their latest fad.

Chris Kirkham
St. Cloud, MN


Blacks and Whites, Haves and Have nots, Crusaders and non-Christians, Germans and rest of the world, and Strong and Weak.

China, in their language, means the central country. From my modest experience with Chinese, there is one thing that is engraved on my mind; They are proud.

They glue with each other to form elusive yet, powerful net for their prey. They have sucked blood out of Vietnamese for eons. No, that is not enough, they want the world now.

And now, it's their turn. China now has to suck blood out of their own people. I abhor capitalism, but I hate Stalin, Mao, Kim, Ho and other Lenin-tarring egotists even more. I'm sure that people of China, not People's Republic of Chinese, want Tibet to be free. Let us not support a government which not only ignores the will of its people but also has no regard for rest of the world. It is a hard task, but that's all I can and will say.

a non-Tibetan, non-Chinese, non-Anything.

Sangwoo John Kim
Austin, TX


Hooray and congratulations on your willingness to broadcast this partial story without regard to what the Chinese Government may say or do. It was refreshing and most meaningful.

The truth is suppose to set us free. Our own country enjoys such freedom although it is often hard, even here, to find the truth; your excellent hour program provided a facet of what truth means and what it means to be a human being. No better reason exists of why I subscribe and support PBS.

Give us more on Tibet. Even old archival news reels or audio will be appreciated. You may be aware of the large Tibetan community in Great Britain. They may have much material that could be of benefit to you.

I also support a world boycott of all things "Disney" in perpetuity . . . let the Chinese support the Disney dream of big-buck utopia. The U.S.'s shifting policy makes me very sad; the President does not speak for this citizen. My new citizenship of the heart must be Tibetan.

But focusing on your superior program . . . you have given me so much to think about, alas, now what can I do? How can I help make a difference? These are just a few of the many questions you have triggered into my mind. Thus, your program was that rare program of meaningfulness. May you ever live in peace and happiness.


With deep gratitude I thank you for this honest and revealing expose of Tibet and its ruthless persecution by the Chinese government and its policy of subjugation by any means.

I feel so helpless as a single human being when faced with this human tragedy of a culture and people being systematically erased from the face of the earth by an insidious force of political will that cares nothing for human values let alone rights. A malignant force such as this would normally incur the wrath of all humanity, its leaders and governments, to stamp it out like a venomous snake, but what we see is leaders such as President Clinton and elder statesmen such as Henry Kissinger, defend it for no more reason than the promise of profit and convoluted logic that our righteous indignation would only aggravate the human suffering this regime inflicts on the Tibetans.

I pray that the clarity of that congressman and the courage of PBS might stare our world leaders and businessmen in the face and shame them into admitting the horror the Republic of China is inflicting upon these helpless people, and take the only stand they can, that of moral indignation, and oppose this inhumanity by every means at their disposal.

Sincerely yours,
Tubten Pende
Soquel, California


As a human rights activist, I was troubled by Orville Schell's weary, almost dissuasive tone in tonight's program on Tibet. He seemed to imply that there's nothing anybody can do to stop the Chinese government from successfully committing cultural genocide in Tibet. If he believes that, why does he bother to denounce the Chinese government's actions on Frontline? Why not retreat to the value-free groves of academe?

Schell may not have intended to do so, but he seemed to trivialize the determined efforts of human rights advocates and Tibetan exiles by equating them with the supposedly romantic delusions of a few self-indulgent movie stars. Prominent people like Richard Gere make a positive contribution by using their fame to call the world's attention to human rights abuses in places like Tibet. Their efforts should be acknowledged as worthwhile, not put down.

Linda Rabben
Volunteer, Amnesty International


Every day I am confronted with the "made in China" label. It is nearly impossible for the U.S. consumer to avoid buying products from this totalitarian country. We are all unwittingly supporting the cultural genocide against Tibet. It is a product of our failed foreign policy, which started with Nixon and has been perpetuated by all administrations since. We thought if we could make them capitalists we could make them nice guys. Now we are faced with a much stronger adversary. We have sold them the rope to hang us...just as they predicted.

John A. Moore
Henderson, NV


As a video documentarian I have wanted for years to travel in Tibet to capture the horrors on tape. I must thank the director of "Windhorse" for proving you don't have to be Frontline to make it to Tibet.

Overall this episode was informative and as usual with this topic, heartwrentching. I know the average American feels we can do little for the cause and it is difficult. I ask, no, I challenge you to join me in efforts to boycott all Chinese products. At the very least, please, do not forget Tibet.

Cary M. Vose
Blaine, WA


Your program is an addition to a string of recent China attacking events that as an average American such as myself find overwhelming. As someone who has had the opportunity to grow up in China and really get to know her and America up close, I am deeply troubled by what I have read, heard and saw in news. The surprising factor is that a lot of negativities and criticism come from liberal saturated places, including the PBS.

Your program portrays Chinese people as merciless occupiers, the type of the people that average Americans are taught to hate. May I say you have done a splendid job.

I use to consider myself a liberal. No more. From now on, I will vote Republican president, stop watching any movies starring Richard Gere, Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford (he use to be my all time favorite actor), and turning off PBS and NPR.

Just how much do you know about China or Tibet or its people? Not a damn thing. Tibet has and will always remain a part of China, just like Alaska or Hawaii is part of the U.S. Tibet or China is not a dream, as phrased by director Martin in your interview, its home to billions of people whose history, culture, religion and political system that are unfamiliar to Westerners such as yourself. These same people are hard at work to make life better for themselves today and in future. Your program shows nothing of the sort.

Movies, arts, media, books are about politics here in the U.S. and for someone such as myself who have lived in the country long enough, its hard to ignore the players and their game plans. I am watching and I don't like what I saw. You should stop manipulating the American people with your lies and videotapes.

One Proud American


After watching the Dreams of Tibet I was saddened by the history that China arrogantly assumes is their right to create. I was also embarrassed by how little I truly knew about this beautiful country. I find it particularly disturbing that although Tibet now enjoys mainstream media interest, it is only due to the commercialism of Hollywood and not as a visceral reaction to China's malicious involvement.

The installation of a Chinese approved Panchen Lama would not have been allowed by the western world had it been but only one of the Cardinals in the Catholic Church.

It is only in the wallet that China can be forced to allow Tibet to create it's own history. The Most Favored Nation status so eagerly awarded to China is a trump card the United States freely gives up year after year.

Keep up this form of intelligent reporting I can't be the only one who doesn't know.

James Pfleging
Santa Barbara, CA


Those of us who voted for Clinton because of his stance to improve human rights in China, and Tibet, have been betrayed, and lied to in wake of campaign contributions, and big interests. As voters we were manipulated by this president when we voted for human rights in China.

The Chinese fear world education of the plight of Tibet, and the gross injustices committed by the Chinese government. This is not the X-Files, this is the real thing, and its time to pay attention to shows and movies like these, because they will slowly vanish as the point of no return is approaching, if it has not already for our own American freedom of expression on these issues. Thank You for the coverage of these injustices in Tibet.

My highest respects and reverence for the Dalai Lama and the non violent pursuit of the preservation of Tibetan Culture.

"An injustice anywhere, is an injustice everywhere" Martin Luther King Jr.

Lance Eddleman
Portland Oregon

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