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It may well be a case of imbalanced economic development, a problem the central government faces with other provincial regions too. |
I'm sure many would be interested to know who this "Chinese official" who had frankly discussed Tibet with Australian officials was. Has he been misquoted and misunderstood, as is often the case with western based reporters. John Garnaut, who appears to be of Indian descent, has a tendency to write with a certain slant and previously helped his Chinese colleague Mary An Toy by co-authoring some of her reports.
Economic and social problems are explanations for the "peaceful" riots. Whatever, it does not justify killing of Han and Hui ethnic groups during the orchestrated attacks in March. It would be hard to believe that the protestors are not politically motivated and backed by foreign based perpetrators. Pure economic reasons do not explain away the toot cause of the riots.
Many tourist guides are ethnic Tibetans and the younger generation are exposed to the learning of English and Mandarin in addition to Tibetan language. However, the dilemma is accelerated transformation of the economy, learning of English and greater openness should be taken with great care lest this be accused of "cultural genocide" by Dalai Lama and his supporters.
Excerpts from :
Rivers of money not flowing to Tibetans
May 26, 2008
AUSTRALIAN officials were recently stunned to hear a senior Chinese policy maker give an honest diagnosis of why China's Tibet policies had gone so badly wrong.
But the Chinese official departed from the script to argue Tibet was an economic development problem. He told Australian diplomats and academics in Beijing that rivers of money from the Chinese Government had ended up with ethnic Han migrants, leaving an angry class of unemployed Tibetans.
Huge infrastructure investment had not been matched by education spending, leaving migrants from elsewhere in China in a better position to snaffle the jobs and business opportunities.
While Chinese Government subsidies account for 75 per cent of Tibet's GDP, and Tibet's GDP grew 14 per cent last year, the Chinese official said the region's ethnic and rural-urban inequalities were getting worse and the challenge of multi-culturalism had not been effectively addressed.
Later, members of the Australian audience agreed the Chinese official had drawn on an article in the April edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review. The article, "Money Can't Buy Tibetans' Love", was authored by Ben Hillman, one of the stars of the Australian National University's new China Institute.
Hillman had spent much of his time in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the northwest corner of Yunnan province. The region is relatively prosperous thanks to its long exposure to trade.
And yet even in this opportunistic corner of the Tibetan plateau, ethnic Tibetans were missing out on the tourism boom that had taken off since the late 1990s. Hillman's rough survey of half-a-dozen new hotels found that four in every five jobs had gone to non-Tibetan Chinese.
Hoteliers told him it was a question of skills rather than deliberate discrimination: "We're open to hiring Tibetans but they can't do the job."
Tourists were coming to see Tibetan culture. But Hillman found it was Han Chinese who were dressing up in Tibetan clothes to sell tickets at Lhasa's Potala Palace, hawk fake Tibetan barley cakes and take all the service industry jobs.
Seen in this light, Tibet is not so different from colonial and post-colonial development problems the world over, including in Africa, East Timor and indigenous regions of Australia.
Partly it may be a question of cultural attitude. "Tibetans are fiercely independent," says Hillman. "In many cases, they'd rather be poor on the farm than shine someone's shoes."
But it is also about skills and education. Forty per cent of Tibetans have never been to school and only 15 per cent have had any secondary education. Tibetan schools teach Tibetan languages but perhaps this has only exacerbated the challenge of connecting Tibetans to China's roaring economy.
The Chinese Government is plastering railways and highways and sticking mobile phone towers all over the Tibetan plateau. But these have mainly encouraged and served hundreds of thousands of new migrants from elsewhere in rural China. "It's a revolving door of Han Chinese migrants who come, make some money and leave," says Hillman.
"In the past there wasn't really direct competition between Han and Tibetan elite. It's a different dynamic now, of lower-class Han Chinese out-competing Tibetans in urban areas. It's simple economics - Tibetans don't have the skills and they have no way of getting them. There is no official recognition of this problem."
So these are the angry, unemployed Tibetan young men who turned peaceful religious protests in March into the largest and bloodiest uprising against Communist Party rule in nearly 50 years. Hillman appears to have prompted at least one senior Chinese policy maker to start thinking about solutions.
But effective policies may still be a while away if, as argued by Hong Kong scholar Willy Lam in the same edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review, President Hu Jintao bears too much personal responsibility for the underlying problems to seriously address them.
Hillman's influence also hints at the potential of ANU's China Institute. ANU is home to one of the strongest concentrations of world-class China scholars outside China.
http://business.smh.com.au/river ... -20080525-2i1r.html