October 16, 2007


Tibetans dream of autonomy (Ross Terrill, October 17, 2007, The Australian)

[T]he People's Republic of China remains a semi-empire. A tense atmosphere marks Tibet and other huge areas that historically were not Chinese.

Beijing's thumb on proud and deeply religious Tibet is anachronistic after the fall of the world's other great multinational empire, the Soviet Union, in 1991, and an unprecedented global wave of democratisation. Yet Tibet, drastically different from China in values and lifestyle, is taking material strides.

Beijing says Tibet's gross domestic product grew at a rate of 12 per cent a year between 2001 and 2005; in 2006 the figure reached 13.4 per cent. Tourist revenue has soared: the mountain civilisation received 2.5 million tourists last year, up 40 per cent over 2005.

Tibet is getting efficient transport to Beijing for the first time, as well as to northwest China, the southeast province of Yunnan that abuts Burma and South Asia.

Will the roads, pipelines, railways, new towns and hotels modernise and internationalise Tibet to the satisfaction of Tibetans as well as the Chinese? Or will they more intricately knit a complaining Tibet into China, its Buddhist monks becoming Beijing-supervised tourist guides, its vibrant temples reborn as paying museums?

Recently Beijing has got tougher with Tibet's Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who proclaims from his base in India that Tibet is a separate civilisation.

...by the PRC's recognition that they have to swamp the Tibetans demographically to have any hope of subsuming the nation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 16, 2007 3:57 PM
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