I was pleased to find this article in the Christian Science Monitor. I don't mind taking a clear side in the China/Tibet relationship -- and I have a sense that this article's author does too. However, what makes the story interesting to me is not (what appear to be) the blunt attempts by the Chinese organizing committee to co-opt participation (and thereby manufacture consent* for their version of the festival), but the ways in which cultural resistance is played out in "whether or not to wear animal furs".
*[Reading the article, I was reminded of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's book, Manufactured Consent. Here's an interesting interview with Noam about said book.]
The Daily Telegraph had published an article in February 2006 highlighting the Chinese authorities initial anxiety and fury over Tibetans' willingness to observe His Holiness's wish that Tibetans desist from wearing fur, ostensibly in response to Indian environmentalists concerned that significant numbers of animals were being endangered for largely aesthetic purposes. Apparently some Tibetan groups in the capital Lhasa had gone so far as to have 'fur bonfires'. Heaven knows... autocrats don't like fire, unless they start it.
The London Times had picked up on this story some two weeks ago -- and also revealed that performers at the Khampa festival in Yusho were being threatened by the organizing committee: "Entertainers who ignore [the command to wear fur] face being fined their appearance money of 3,000 yuan (£200), a huge sum for a Tibetan farmer." The article also makes mention of another piece of anxious autocracy:
"A rock group in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, was called in by officials because one of its hits was a song critical of the slaughter of wild animals. After the musicians had reassured the officials that the tune predated the Dalai Lama’s call, they were released. Their song was banned."
Maybe they should move to Uzbekistan where pop-songs are all Uzbek, all the time. Or else. It does remind me of the Chinese authorities' anxiety over Mongol metal-stars, Hurd, back in November 2004 when they were scheduled to make a stop in the Inner Mongolian college-town of Xohot... but weren't allowed to.