This BBC reporter observed the protest in Lhasa's main marketplace: the old Tibetan quarter of Lhasa is under control of the ethnic Tibetans and they're attacking shops owned by Chinese and they've lit huge fires in the streets. The BBC interviewed one eye witness, an American man in Tibet: police are coming to the temples and started beating, pulling, and kicking them.
(Why is this happening now?) There's always been resentment by Tibetans towards the Chinese government who feel the Chinese presence is an invasion and they should be a free country. It's happening this week because Monday was the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising in 1959 which eventually led to the Chinese crackdown and the Dalai Lama fleeing to India. There's another reason and that's because this is the year of the Beijing Games and the Tibetans want to put their cause forward in the eyes of the world community. (These protests started with the monks but have now spread to other groups, what's the significance of that?) It's a great deal of sympathy from ordinary Tibetans towards the monks. In the past, protests are on a smaller scale. But ordinary people may have been inspired by what happened in Burma earlier this year. It was only after a larger amount of monks were detained that the violence started today. (What are the options now for the Chinese government?) the Chinese government is in a bind because it wants to present a vision of its country as a peaceful and unified power. With Tibetans rioting, the government will have to do something to bring them in line. some analysts thought more troops would be brought in. (Is there much sympathy for Tibet among Chinese?) in one sense Chinese will say of course Tibet is part of China, but educated Chinese, especially in urban areas, have developing an infinity for Tibetan Buddhism so it'll be interesting to see how they respond. They have respect for the Tibetan religion and some sympathy and they'd probably say we need an alternative to dealing with this issue.