Changing China

Giant on the move

Nick (& Dave & Mark), the torch and Everest – Day 12

May 6, 2008

At an early press conference today the novel inclusion of information we hadn’t heard before briefly raised spirits in what has become quite a downbeat media camp.

As the weekend snowstorms destroyed the careful preparations the Chinese had made on the mountain and a second week in Tibet became an inevitability, there has been a lot of talk about going home. Not just from journalists, either. Many of the officials who travelled with us from Beijing or joined us at Lhasa airport barely attempt to disguise their low spirits any more. I don’t know whether the cause is the altitude, the cold, the increasingly predictable diet, the lack of showers or just day after day of telling news-hungry journalists that there is no news. One of the senior officials told me again today that he thought we were getting “closer and closer” to “our goal”, while another said he thought our fond farewells would not be not too far away.

Perhaps I’m clutching at straws.

everest-flag.JPGStill, at today’s briefing, the full team of 31 Chinese on the mountain was listed so at least we have names, ages, sexes, and, quite interestingly, ethnic origins to flesh out the “climbers” we refer to in our stories. They are a bit more human now. The continuing good weather has also raised expectations that the end might be nigh. It’s quite windy down here but on the mountain, the tell-tale flag of snow coming off the peak suggests the wind is not too strong and is blowing in a westerly direction. A mountaineering official has told us that it is the east wind that brings snow.

So the hopes are high that they might summit on Wednesday or Thursday and we could all be off the mountain in time to celebrate Dave’s birthday with a few beers at the weekend.

Picture by David Gray


Nick, Dave & Mark, I sympathise with the altitude sickness and cold weather, but it seems you guys give very little thought about the locals (Tibetans). If you have time maybe you will like to wonder why the area is so poor, why the people there are so different and haven’t joined the 21st century.

You may also realise that the locals do not want the Chinese Communist Government in Tibet or thier soldiers climbing the Mount Everest. That the locals have far greater concerns with Chinese Communist government trampling all over them, to get to the top of Mount Everest in a egotistal triumpalism show. But hey, it is an great opportunity for you to report this ego trip too, so all else is immaterial.

Posted by Sonam Dugdak | Report as abusive

Nick, Dave $Mark,
I enjoy your sense of humor and your pictures. I climbed to ABC last April and, of course camped one night at Rongbuk monastery. If that huge Tibetan mastiff is still at the monastery (last year he (she?) sported a fushia ruban around his neck) say hi for me.
Drink plenty of water!
Thanks for your dispatches.

Posted by Nicole Areson | Report as abusive

Thank you for the regular postings. Your comments about the mention of ethnic origins of the climbers as “interesting” seem to indicate that you are not that familiar with China and Tibet. Today’s Chinese are obsessed by classification in “nationalities” (i.e. ethnic groups). It is written on your ID, it follows you all your life, it is a key identity marker. Plus they are proud to show that they have included barbarian Tibetans in the team. Why don’t you tell us about the 4 qualifications required for climbers (the first and foremost one being a love for unity – of the nation of course) ? It is on English-language websites.
Please try and talk to locals. Are there any anyway ?
Try and ask disturbing questions about Tibet to your Chinese colleagues, about the DL, about the PL, about history. You are journalist, not a servant to the Chinese govt. Do not let us believe that you are only out there as a nice exotic touch or as a voucher for this silly Everest torch.

Posted by Chos nyid | Report as abusive

It is common to emphasize ethnic origins in China, especially in Autonomous Regions. This is kind of a respect to the minorities, it’s printed on the ID card with the whole of one’s life.

I think the foreign journalists should cherish this opportunity to learn some cultural things in China. What you’ve written was definitely humourous, but that shows how much you don’t understand China. Some jokes are lack of basic knowledges. Try spend some time talking to the climbers or locals, that helps a lot.

Posted by Yuan | Report as abusive

I find it terribly ironic that a handful of journalists are allowed to enter Tibet to cover a massive Chinese propaganda event – The Torch Climbs Everest! – but not a single journalist, diplomat or tourist has the right to wander a Lhasa street, interview Tibetans, visit monasteries, etc., in short bring the world the truth about the ongoing Chinese occupation of Tibet and the current crackdown. What is the point of being a journalist if you aren’t looking for the real story? Best of luck to you.

Posted by Glenn | Report as abusive

Finally the locals have woken up that Nick, Dave & Mark are the peak of ignorance. Ever since they built the new road its been hard to keep the low life out. Its very generous for posters to offer talking points for our oxygen-challenged comrades, such as how to make the mountain a glorious symbol of ethnic and gender unity.

Posted by John Wright | Report as abusive

it seems that someone here really want to hear the anti-china vioce,like bloody crackdown,the anger of locals,if there isn’t any,they seems to consider the journalist is not a good guy!

Posted by fish | Report as abusive

I am a Chinese. First of all, I do not like the communist party and I agree that the current Chinese government is never a perfect government. Actually it was horrible before 1980 and almost all Chinese, including Tibetans, suffered a lot during that period. Also there are certainly human rights violations all around China now. But this is a national issue, rather than a regional (Tibet) issue. Why there are so many sick people here, eagering to see how central government suppresses the Tibetans? Are you very happy if you see all the tibetans living a horrible life? How many Tibetans have you met, who live in Tibet? You may meet some Tibetans in exile and I can understand what they will tell you. Then is that where all your points of views come from?

Chinese government lies, but the Tibetan government in exile lies much more ridiculously. Let’s just talk about cultural genocide, which is claimed by Dalai. Does teach Chinese and English in middle school as second and third language considered as cultural genocide? If yes, I would say the whole world is culturally genocided. Does the seperation of religion and politics considered as cultural genocide? If yes, why not let Pope to rule the Europe now? What else? Oh, millions of Han Chinese imigrate to Tibet. Oh, over a million Tibens were killed by Han Chinese…. What makes you to believe this kind of ridiculous charges?

Why not calm down and see some facts. While all the Han Chinese are only allowed to have one child, Tibetans and other minorities can have 2 or 3 children. The ratio of Han Chinese is decreasing every year. Also minorities in China can get extra points in their college entrance exam…. Actually I was just one point away from getting into the college that I wanted to go, that I had to do the test again in the next year. And I wished I could have been a Tibetan or other minorities… It has never been a national policy to suppress Tibetans or other minorities…

Now China is growing and Tibet was developing very fast as other areas of China. Why not let it grow? Things are improving in China. We Chinese will solve our problems ourselves. We will reach democracy one day in the future. We don’t want external forces involved in our internal affairs. So don’t consider yourself as a god, who comes to save China or Tibet. If you really want to help, come to China. Don’t spread hatred or racism to China.

We welcome Dalai back into China just as a religous leader. But he wants way more than that. See his conditions for autonomy. Nobody in China will accept these kinds of ridiculous conditions.

So if you really like Tibet. Go there and help the people there to improve their lives. I believe that Tibet will be avaible for foreigners soon.

Posted by zhang | Report as abusive

Yeah I agree with this Mr Zhang. See? Sitting here in China and talking about the Communist Party is not a problem for Chinese and we can say whatever we want. Like what he said, if you really like to save this nation, if you really wanna “save Tibet”, firt come to this country to take a look. It’s never too late to make a conclusion. Before using those “killing”"crackdown” words, think twice. Such few words cannot describe this big country.

Posted by Yuan | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see