Chinese leaders plan on increasing the development of Tibet's economy, with the aim of bringing it up to the same level as the rest of China over the next decade.
The official state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday that at a conference held in Beijing this past week by senior government officials, plans were made to put Tibetan economic development on a fast track. The goal is to bring the level of infrastructure and agricultural income up to the national average by 2020.
No specific numbers were mentioned on how much money China would be investing in Tibet. But agriculture, handicrafts, resource development, and tourism were among the key development targets mentioned.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, who attended the conference, was quoted in the news report as saying the accelerated rate proposed for developing Tibet was "vital to ethnic unity, social stability, and national security."
Xinhua reported that China has invested some $45.6 billion in Tibet since 2001
One expert on Tibet said China’s leaders like to "homogenize" Tibet’s problems as a development issue to downplay the region’s distinct culture.
"They’re persisting in this argument that it’s all about money and that Tibetans have no other concerns," said Michael C. Davis, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "Including or connecting the Tibetan Autonomous Region with other autonomous areas may just be more of that. Maybe I’m too suspicious."
Davis said the move to include areas outside Tibet in the development drive seems to be more about connecting them to the rest of China than to each other.
The conference on Tibetan development by Chinese leaders was the first since the region suffered serious riots in 2008, resulting in many deaths and injuries.
Some information for this report was provided by Xinhua, AP and Reuters.