Thirty years after crushing a bloody Tibetan uprising, the government of China has resorted to force once more to secure its rule on this isolated region. But world voices protesting this brutal suppression are curiously absent.

Despite pleas by Tibetans to foreigners, "Tell the world . . . help us, please," there is unlikely to be any help. Foreigners were promptly evacuated from Tibet by the Chinese.Hundreds of Tibetans took to the streets of the capital city of Lhasa last week demanding Tibetan independence. Although police chose not to intervene the first day, blood was subsequently spilled as police fired automatic rifles at demonstrators - killing at least a dozen and injuring more than a hundred others.

Martial law was subsequently imposed. Soldiers flooded the city as part of a massive crackdown with orders to take "any measures necessary to restore order."

These latest developments have the Chinese in a quandary. Although China eased controls on Tibet in the 1980s, allowing a few monasteries to re-emerge and recently agreeing to discuss anything short of independence, the flames of freedom continue to burn brightly in the Himalayas.

But the Chinese continue to resist any efforts to undermine their control of the region, claiming Tibet has been part of China for centuries - despite the extreme cultural differences.

Beijing, however, suffered a recent setback in its efforts to quell the Tibetan independence movement with the death of the Panchen Lama - Tibet's second-holiest religious figure.

Western diplomats say the Panchen Lama's death has left a power vacuum among top leadership assigned to safeguard China's Tibetan interests. It has also strengthened the political position of the exiled Dalai Lama - the holiest figure in Tibetan Buddhism and former political leader of the region. His flight to India to avoid an alleged Chinese kidnapping plot 30 years ago led to the first Tibetan uprising.

The Dalai Lama has issued repeated appeals to world leaders to pressure the Chinese to halt their oppression, but so far his requests have fallen on deaf ears.

Unfortunately, perhaps the best chance for a solution in Tibet - the Dalai Lama and Beijing have agreed in principle to hold talks - is on indefinite hold as the two sides cannot agree on who the participants should be.

However to think that simply gathering people around a negotiating table will resolve the Tibetan situation is to forget the past 30 years. The real problem in Tibet runs as deep as the people's hunger for independence.