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A Cause For Courage


[image, unknown] New Internationalist Issue 274

The material that follows has been provided by New Internationalist



Tibetans claim that the flood of chinese migration has turned them into a minority in their own country.
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[image, unknown] Chinese figures do not include Chinese military personnel, estimated to number 150,000-250,000 in the whole of Tibet.4

[image, unknown] 120,000-130,000 Tibetans live in exile3

[image, unknown] An independent survey confirms that there are now more Chinese in Tibet than Tibetans - 5.0 to 5.5 million compared with 4.2 million.1

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Chinese settled in Tibet in 1949 (left)
Chinese settled in Tibet in 1995 1(right)

Human Rights

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China has a bad human-rights record in general but its record in relation to Tibetans is appalling. 30 % of Tibetan political prisoners are women. 4

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Political deaths: In Tibet there have been 13 deaths in or shortly after custody since 19904

Detentions: There are 732 known political prisoners in Tibet4

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Slave labour: An estimated 16-20 million prisoners are held in 4,000-6,000 loagai or 'labour reform camps' in China and Tibet. Slave labour from these camps earns China several hundred million dollars.6

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Birth control: Coercion is an integral part of Chinese family-planning policies, and there are reports of forced sterilizations and abortions. Fines can be as high as 10 to 15 times the average rural income. Rules for Chinese are even stricter.7

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Chinese rule: According to the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, 1.2 million Tibetans died between 1949 and 1979 of causes related to the Chinese occupation - during combat, by execution, through torture, through starvation and by suicide.12

Give and Take

[image, unknown] China claims to be pumping huge sums of development money into Tibet. How much it is taking out in terms of natural resources is not disclosed.

IN: China spends $270 million per year on 'development' in Tibet.2
OUT: Half of Tibet's forests have been felled since 1959 - providing the Chinese with $50 billion worth of timber.7 More than a quarter of Tibet's mineral resources have been extracted since 1959.8

China is short of natural resources. Within the next decade 7 of the 15 key staple minerals essential to its economy will run out. In Tibet 126 types of minerals, with major deposits of uranium, lithium, bauxite, borax, chromite, copper, gold, iron, and silver have been identified by the Chinese.9

China's plans for Tibet:
To achieve economic growth at 10% per year until 2000.
To industrialize agriculture and boost grain production to one million tons per year.
To build a US 2.6 billion Tibet-China rail link, to aid migration and transport resources.
To encourage foreign investment.8


Chinese migrants have far greater access to education and jobs than ethnic Tibetans.

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Tibetans and Chinese are segregated at school. Chinese classes get better teachers and facilities.7

45% of Tibetans aged 15 and over are illiterate or semi-literate, three times the average Chinese rate of 15%.7

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Tibetans still far outnumber Chinese in the TAR area of Tibet. Yet the Chinese dominate the key areas of employment.

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According to official statistics the children of Chinese migrants make up only 3.7 per cent of the child population. But Chinese is the dominant language in secondary education and Chinese children get much further than Tibetans.


China's communist rule brought science and modern medicine to Tibet. But after 45 years of occupation, the basic health and survival needs of Tibetans are far from being met.

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Health and wealth

To be admitted into hospital as an in-patient a deposit of $60 has to be paid. This is almost as much as a Tibetan rural worker can hope to earn in a year.7

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Chinese citizens are offered wages 87% higher than in China as an incentive to settle in Tibet.7

Life expectancy

China 7013 Tibet 612

1 The New Majority, independent report by Anders Hojmark Andersen, Sarah Cooke, Michael Wills published by the Tibet Support Group, London, 1995.
2 People's Republic of China, Beijing, 1990 figures.
3 Department of Information and International Relations, Tibetan Government in Exile, Dharamsala, 1995.
4 Tibet Information Network, London, 1995.
5 Amnesty International. London, 1995.
6 Loagai Research Foundation run by Harry Wu, US.
7 Tibet Facts, Tibet Support Group, London 1995.
8 UNIDO, 1994.
9 Xinhua News Agency, 16 March 1991.
10 People's Republic of China, 1994.
11 Strangers in Their Own Country, Tibetan Youth Congress, Dharamsala 1994.
12 Tibet: Proving Truth From Facts, DIIR, Dharamsala, 1994.
13 Human Development Report, 1991.

©Copyright: New Internationalist 1995

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New Internationalist issue 274 magazine cover This article is from the December 1995 issue of New Internationalist.
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