China and Tibet: the Truth
A woman friend who has an Indian guru, likes to walk into strangers’ homes wherever she goes and, somehow, they never seem to mind. Recently came back from a visit to Lhasa after staying at guesthouse on the far right corner in this photograph:
She told me of visiting Tibetans’ homes and studying their household shrines.
Almost half the homes’ shrines were devoted to the current Dalai Lama, some to earlier Dalai Lamas, and the rest had shrines to Mao Zedong. When she asked about the Mao shrines, the old folk explained that Mao had liberated them or their parents from slavery and, by so doing, had done more for them than anyone else, ever. This is what their grandparents looked like in the 1930s:
China and Tibet: the Truth
Since China reasserted its authority there, Tibet’s GDP has risen from 327 million yuan in 1965 to 131.06 billion yuan ($20.5 billion) in 2014, a 300-fold increase and the 20th year of double-digit growth and this year, 13 million tourists will spend $26 billion there. Tibetans’ life expectancy has tripled, indigenous Tibetans’ population has doubled, their literacy has risen 6000%, maternal infant mortality has improved 400% and Tibetans can catch an affordable train–or fly–to anywhere in the world because their incomes have risen 700%. See this report: Successful Practice of Regional Ethnic Autonomy.
The expat Tibetan nobility, former slave-owners, make up stories like expat Cuban plantation-owners who rhapsodize about their former, happy cane-cutters. Of their many ‘human rights’ accusations (always repeated in Western media) one is that the Chinese Government practices coercive family planning, imposes strict birth limits and forces women to undergo abortions and sterilization. In real life, Tibetans are the only minority in China permitted to have more than two children. This report, FERTILITY AND FAMILY PLANNING IN RURAL TIBET by Melvyn Goldstein, Cynthia Beall, Ben Jiao and Phuntsog Tsering, gives real population figures and explains what’s really going on. Or just study this photograph of the Lhasa Hilton Hotel:
Next, read DEVELOPMENT AND CHANGE IN RURAL TIBET, by the same authors: A multi-year study of the impact of China’s reform policies since the early 1980s on rural change in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The study included 780 households in 13 villages, using qualitative and quantitative methods.
The Truth about China and Tibet
The illiteracy rate was 90% in 1951, when China signed the Seventeen Point Agreement and pledged to develop education there for the first time. Since 2015, Tibetan children’s school enrollment has reached 98%, $4 billion have been invested in 1,499 kindergartens (including bilingual kindergartens and kindergartens in farmland and pasturing areas have been built) 1,189 schools have been newly-built or renovated and student nutrition improvement plans have been implemented in poverty-stricken counties. Most classes are taught in the Tibetan language but mathematics, physics, and chemistry are taught in Chinese because those subjects have no Tibetan vocabulary. The government pays all tuition fees for ethnic Tibetans from primary school through college and provides full support for children who must attend boarding schools.
The central government held the Second National Conference on Work in Tibet in 1984 and established Tibet University the same year and, by 2006, the country had six institutes of higher learning–up from none in 1951. When the National Higher Education Entrance Examination was established in 1980, ethnic Tibetans filled only 10% of the higher education quota despite making up 97% of the population so, in 1984, the Ministry of Education changed its policies and included affirmative action and Tibetan language accommodation. By 2008, the number of ethnic Tibetans sitting the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE, or gaokao) reached 14,248, with 10,211 accepted into university, making the enrollment proportion of ethnic Tibetans 60%. See this report for more: Education in Tibet.
Their opinions of the Chinese government are mixed. In 2000 professor Goldstein asked a sample of Tibetans from across the TAR “Do You Have a Better Life Now Than Your Parents Did?”
90% of the 60-79 year-olds–born between 1920-1940 whose parents lived almost entirely before Chinese policies kicked in–answered, “Yes”.
What about independence? Goldstein didn’t question them on that thorny subject but, shortly after the 2008 riots, the Tibetan Government in Exile, TGIE, secretly conducted a survey and learned that only 29% (5,000 out of 17,000) of Tibetans living in Tibet want renzig, independence, while 47% (8,000) preferred to remain part of China with limited ‘true autonomy’. The remaining 4,000 either wanted the status quo or had no opinion. So the TGIE went with the Middle Way approach because, if only 29% wanted independence so soon after the after the ’08 riots, that figure was probably never going to rise, because Tibetans’ real incomes have risen 400% since then and, while some people (including Californians and Hawaiians) like independence, everybody likes a 400% wage rise.
Sadly, the Chinese government had offered the Dalai Lama the Middle Way approach in the 1980s but, because he demanded that parts of Gansu, Sichuan, and other multi-ethnic provinces in China be included in his ‘Tibet’, the deal fell through.
What would you find if you polled Native Hawaiians, Lakota Indians or Australian Aborigines on whether they want their territories to be independent states? Of course, our ‘democratic’ media are not interested in the opinions of Native Hawaiians, Lakota Indians or Australian Aborigines who are actually part of the issue. Only rich white people’s opinions matter.
By Michael J. Sullivan, ASIA-L list, 9 October 1995. The recent dispute over the selection of the new Panchen Lama between the Beijing government and the Dalai Lama, Beijing has been arguing that the lottery process known as “Shaking the Golden Urn” must be used in the selection process.
By Ralph McGehee, [April 1996]. A two-part article on the U.S. collision course with the P.R.C. Also catalogs CIA interventions in China, particularly Tibet.
By Gary Wilson, Worker’s World, 6 Febuary 1997. Little about the CIA’s skullduggery in the Himalayas is a real secret anymore except maybe to the U.S. taxpayers who bankrolled it. None will honestly confront the real history. It matters less what the Dalai Lama says than what he does.