LHASA, Tibet �" As I rode in a truck peeling around the curves of a narrow mountain road in southwestern Tibet, wheels squealed as the driver tried to pass a van. Minutes later the van sped past and cut in front of our car, almost forcing us over a cliff. "Bad Chinese drivers!" our Tibetan driver shouted, slamming his fist on the horn. The men pulled over and began a 10-minute shouting match.
This is the dislike shared by Tibetans and the Han Chinese who now outnumber them in Tibet's capital of Lhasa. While such animosity is usually tempered it sometimes erupts, like on the road that September afternoon or in March 2008, when riots in Lhasa prompted by police crackdowns on monks' peaceful protests killed 18 Chinese civilians, according to state-run media. With Beijing celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China Oct. 1, mutual contempt is running high.