Thursday, 3 September 2015

Tibet’s Economic Development and China’s ‘Boomerang Aid’

On 1st September 2015, the Central Tibetan Administration or the Exile Tibetan Government responded to the Chinese White Paper on Tibet issued back in April 2015. 

The response  was realistically and responsibly titled "Tibet was not Part of China but Middle Way Remains a Viable Solution ". Fortunately, the response from the Exile Tibetan Government  has more reliable information and realistic approach than the Chinese white paper which contains nothing more than absolute rhetorics and deliberate lies.

As an Institution that deals with environment and developmental issues in Tibet, the most interesting part of the Chinese White Paper  and the response from Exile Tibetan Government is the current state of Environment and path of development in Tibet under Chinese rule. We were encouraged by the Chinese government's latest effort to tackle environmental issues in China, but appalled by the lack of similar effort in Tibetan areas where extensive mining and damming causing extreme damage to the fragile ecosystem of the World's highest Plateau and marginalizing its rightful inhabitants of any real benefits.

Following is an extract from the Tibetan Response on the Chinese white Paper which claims environmental protection and economic progress for the Tibetan people.


Tibet’s Economic Development and China’s ‘Boomerang Aid'

While the Chinese government attempts to rationalise its occupation of Tibet stating that it was backward and feudal, Tibet today is far from current international standards in terms of human development. Tibet today is off-limits to any scrutiny by independent international media and rights groups. On the issue of the current state of Tibet’s development, the United Nations Development Programme says, “Tibet still lags behind other areas of China in terms of human development. Harsh conditions, scarce resources, and insufficient infrastructure limit potential sources of economic growth. Meanwhile, the growth that does take place is concentrated in cities and yields little benefit to many ethnic Tibetans, most of whom live in rural areas and lack skills compared to migrant workers from other parts of China.” There is an acute need for a shift in the basic approach towards the development of Tibet. Beijing’s approach has led to chronic dependence on subsidies, referred to as “blood transfusion economy” by economists. There is massive central government aid to Tibet to develop infrastructure, highways, railway lines, airports and communications system, all aimed to facilitate Beijing’s control of Tibet. But what the central government’s right hand gives to Tibet is also taken away by its left hand. Economists define this sleight of hand as “boomerang aid.” Tibet’s expanding network of highways and railway lines is helping Beijing to exploit the region’s abundant natural resources. Tibet’s water and hydro energy resources and its minerals are exploited with no or little compensation for the local Tibetans. On the other hand, Beijing’s focus on urbanisation and infrastructure, plus settling the Tibetan plateau with immigrants, has not really helped to improve the life of the majority of Tibetans but has increased their marginalisation. Nor has there been a transfer of skills to Tibetans. Tibet continues to rely on outside aid, both capital and labour. “This urban-oriented growth has contributed to rapidly increasing income disparity between urban and rural areas, and between Han and Tibetan populations” (Holcombe, Arthur. 10 June 2002. Testimony to US Congressional Executive Commission on China). The Chinese government often talks about spending millions on boosting development in Tibet, but how much of that money is actually spent on improving health, education, job and social welfare that benefit the local Tibetans is a big question. China’s own statistics show that most of the money as part of China’s Western Development programme is being spent on mega projects like extending and expanding highways, railways and airports to transport minerals from Tibet and bring in tourists, officials and Chinese migrants to the plateau. What Tibetans actually need are good schools with qualified teachers, hospitals with modern facilities and doctors, jobs and employment opportunities in their own villages and towns.

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