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China: Subsidized Tibetan “Middle Class Society” Would Stabilize Region


Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region Qiangba Puncog, second right, speaks on the Chinese side at a ceremony to open the Nathu La Pass, in northeastern Indian state of Sikkim, Thursday, July 6, 2006. Indian and Chinese officials reopened a famed Silk Road pass high in the Himalayas 44 years after it was shut by war, in a ceremony Thursday marked by brass bands that sent festive notes swirling into mountain mists. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

To govern China, one must first protect the borders, and to protect the borders, Tibet must first be stabilized, said Xi Jinping.

Since he made this comment during the 18th National Congress in 2012 , the authorities in Tibetan Autonomous Region has been propagating it as Xi’s Tibet policy.

In August during the sixth Work Forum on Tibet, Xi laid out his plan on how to go about “stabilizing” Tibet. He declared that by 2020, Tibet should reach a “middle class society,” according to China Tibet Web, a state-run Tibetan language website.

All Tibet related matters are connected to “all works of the Party and government, and that development is the fundamental key to solve any problem related to Tibet”, Xi declared.

Andrew Fischer, an economist who has done extensive studies on the development in Tibet, says that the way Chinese government carries out development in Tibet is through government subsidies, not with a goal of self-sustainability.

As early as 1999, then Chinese president Jiang Zemin launched a campaign called the Great Western Development (Xibu Dakaifa, in Chinese) and began stepping up development programs in western region of China, including Tibet and other Tibetan areas. Tibet today, however, continues to lag behind China in economic development despite many Tibetans enjoying higher living standards than a few decades ago.

A recent Chinese official report in Tibetan language that focused on the work that the government is doing to create a “middle class society” in Tibetan Autonomous Region said that the per capita income in Tibet is less than two-third of the national average. However, some Chinese official statements indicates the gap is even wider.

Last year China Central TV quoted TAR Vice Party Secretary Pema Trinley (Padma Choling) saying that 2013 TAR’s GDP per capita was 6,500 Yuan. China’s national capita income was U.S. Dollar 6,991.9 (about 44,700 Yuan) in that year, according to World Bank data.

This episode of 'Tibet in Review' will discuss the issues concerning development in Tibet, and political and military strategy behind it with Dr. Andrew Fischer.

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