Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tibet: It's Also About Economics

In the Washington Post's Outlook section this past Sunday, I read Abrahm Lustgarten's What They're Really Fighting for in Tibet, which is a really interesting article about the economic side of the problems in Tibet.
Chinese state-run firms have staffed large construction projects such as the railway and even local road building with Han Chinese [instead of Tibetan] contractors and crews, who send their earnings home.

All the expansion and wealth that has streamed into Tibet has benefited Tibetans very little. Even after decades of investment, the illiteracy rate remains four times that of neighboring Sichuan province, and there are one-fourth fewer vocational schools per capita than in the rest of China.
I don't mean to belittle the ongoing religious and political oppression Tibet has suffered at the hands of the Chinese. Rather, I am suggesting that as the Chinese have started using economic imperialism to overwhelm Tibet, they have affected even more people and therefore might strengthen the resistance movement. By decimating the Tibetan culture without allowing the Tibetans to benefit economically, the Chinese are really making lots of economically motivated enemies. When you try to suppress their religion, people can simply go underground to resist you. When you hold them down economically, the result is bound to be more explosive.

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