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.