It was a road trip through one of China’s most tightly controlled regions.
We drove uphill and deeper into the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, an area of southwestern China’s Sichuan province, adjacent to Tibet, where more than half the residents are Tibetan.
There were five of us foreign journalists, packed into two minibuses along with camera crews, interpreters and scores of Chinese journalists, all seated shoulder to shoulder with the people in control: party officials from Sichuan and Shanghai. We passed scattered villages, high-altitude grasslands and towering peaks.
Countless propaganda billboards, some many stories high, lined...