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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

China wants to double Tibet tourism by 2015

February 1, 2011

Tsewang Gyalpo Arya, 28 January 2011, Tokyo

Chinese state media has on 13 January said that the government is eyeing
for 15 million visitors a year to Tibet by 2015. The government estimate
that it will more than double the income from tourism by around 16
billion Yuan ($2.42 billion) a year thereby creating more than 300,000
jobs. Xinhua further goes onto claim that Tibet's economy has grown more
quickly than the rest of China. This was attributed to the completion of
a railway line to the Tibetan capital Lhasa, and large mining projects.

Chinese government says it is trying to bring development to a poor and
backward region, including new transport links in the form of roads,
railways and airports. And the government said that it wanted, "all the
people of Tibet to get rich from tourism."

Above portrayal and the citation looks grand and encouraging, but in
reality it is nothing more than the communist leadership's another
conspiracy to mislead the world into believing that all is well in Tibet
and the government is doing its best to boost Tibetan economy and
livelihood. China had persistently claimed that Tibetans in Tibet are
happy and contended with the development Chinese has brought in, and
that it is only a few separatists who are instigating trouble in the
region.

Before we take in the Chinese announcement seriously, we need to
carefully brood over what they really meant by development in Tibet. If
the Chinese leaders are serious about promoting tourism and uplifting
the Tibetan economy, it needs to address the grievances of the Tibetans
in the region first. Are the Tibetan really meant to benefit from the
plan; who will get these 300,000 jobs?

Recent trend in Tibet is that Tibetan tour guides and operators are
slowly being displaced by the new arrivals from China. Government does
not want Tibetan guides and tour operators who are conversant about
Tibetan history and culture and are willing to tell the world about what
communism has done to Tibet.

In order to curb this problem and to create jobs for the Chinese
migrants, the Chinese government introduced a system in which all the
tour guides and operators are required to get license. To acquire the
license, applicants are screened and are required to appear for written
test and interview. Now, the government has come up with a book on Tibet
based on Chinese interpretation of Tibetan history. It is written in
Chinese language. Applicants are required to study this book and answer
accordingly. This written test and interview is also conducted in
Chinese language. Is this the way how the communist government plans to
benefit the Tibetans?

Many young Tibetans gave up because they don't want to parrot the
Chinese version of Tibetan history, many don't read and write Chinese,
and those who read and write Chinese could not compete with Chinese
migrants whose mother tongue is Chinese. With these kinds of ingenious
but cruel policies the communist government has been marginalizing the
Tibetans and encouraging Han Chinese migration. So, all these talks
about jobs doesn't concern the Tibetans, the communist government
already has in mind for whom the jobs are for.

Since March 2008 uprising, the Tibetans have been put under strict
surveillance and only guided tours under strict screenings have been
allowed. The government has still not recovered from the 2008 paranoia,
Tibetans are still being viewed with suspicions and arrested
arbitrarily. Lately, Tibetan intellectuals and artists have been
targeted and many are languishing in prisons. Common people have been
intimidated and warned against contacting or talking with foreigners.
One of my foreign friends who had visited Tibet several times said that
he was gripped with fear and surprise when a cheerful Tibetan vendor
with whom he has befriended during his earlier visits has become
reserved and refused to recognize him last year.

Communist government has unleashed an atmosphere of fear and terror on
the Tibetan plateau. There are more security personals and army in the
street than civilian folks. Is the communist government really thinking
of welcoming 15 millions visitors? If the communist government is
confident about this, then it means that in these intervening years,
they have successfully and brutally tamed the Tibetans to turn the
Tibetan plateau into the first and the largest living human and cultural
zoo for the world to see.

Is this what the communist government meant by "making people of Tibet
rich from tourism."?

Marginalizing the Tibetans, encouraging Han Chinese migration into
Tibet, compulsory imposition of Chinese language in schools and
workplaces, exploitation of Tibetan natural resources, making Tibetan
culture a showpiece, sinocizing Tibetan way of life, if these are what
Chinese meant by developments, Tibetans don't want these developments.

Next time, Beijing plan about development activity in Tibet, they must
consult the Tibetans in the region and should seriously and sincerely
think about benefiting the Tibetans and their overall livelihood.
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