Well, I finally found a topic my colleages at work were unwilling to discuss much: Tibet. We were talking about Scottish history (they think I look Scottish), and we mentioned the Articles of Union, etc, and someone (not even me) made a reference to Tibet. I thought: "perfect opportunity," and pitched my Scotland Model.
I was barely starting, and I got interrupted. "No, won't work. Can't work."
"England is a very different place, for one. It's democratic."
"But you have Hong Kong, and they have a local democratic government."
"Well, Hong Kong is different from Tibet."
"Certainly, but what parts of Tibet make it impossible to have a working local government?"
"Well, China is not a democracy."
It was a very frustrating conversation. I kept asking "what can be done? It's clearly broken."
I kept getting answers like "The Tibetans have to..." nothing that China could do to make it a better place. There seems, at least among these coworkers, to be no care to making it better, as long as China's territorial integrity remains unchallenged.