China’s Diabolic Demographic Plan for Tibet

June 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm (Partha Gangopadhyay, Politics)


China can justifiably claim to have done a lot for the development of Tibet. Very recently it has replaced more than 17000 Tibetan household in the Qiang province of the Tibetan autonomous region to new households to rescue them for the deadly Kashin-Beck disease at a cost of about $ 157 million. All over Tibet China has spent millions to relocate rural populace to modern sanitized homes from ancient Tibetan style habitats. China can boast of having increased the average per capita income of rural Tibetans by 17.2 percent last year. Great advances have taken place in the field of communications and transport all over Tibet. The railway track connecting Beijing and Lhasa is arguably the highest railway facility in the whole world.


 Despite all that China has done for Tibet in the last fifty years, the aspiration of Tibetan people for freedom from Chinese rule remains undiminished. The recent clashes in Tibet over protests by Tibetan monks to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the first mass protest against Chinese occupation bears testimony to the fact that fifty years of political propaganda and ‘developmental work’ have failed to crush the love and loyalty that Tibetans owe to their ancient culture and religious identity.


If  material progress is used as the only benchmark to justify Chinese occupation of Tibet then the British perhaps had every reason to rule India for one more century for all that they have done for this country’s infrastructure development in addition to the introduction of modern education and modern governance. In fact, the imperialist have always defended their action by showcasing the development they have brought to the country they ruled. The imperialists have, with varying degrees of success, always claimed to have rescued the colonized from the demonic rule in the past.


In that sense, the Chinese treatment of Tibet is no different from any other imperialist regime that the world has seen. Though some credit must be given to China for all that it has done to modernize Tibet, the political and cultural subjugation that common Tibetans face under the Chinese regime and the rampant economic exploitation of Tibet by China betrays its imperialist intentions.


If there is one policy that has exposed the ulterior motive of the Chinese government to the world, it is the policy of transfer of Chinese population into Tibet and controlling Tibetan population with stringent measures.


Since 1949, China has periodically inundated Tibet with large number of Chinese settlers. From 1983 there has been a sharp increase in the transfer of Chinese settlers to Central Tibet. In Lhasa alone, there were 50,000 to 60,000 ordinary Chinese residents in 1985. From 1985 to 1988, additional Chinese immigrants doubled the population of Lhasa.


In late 1992, China announced the opening of Tibet’s economy to ‘foreign investments’. In reality, that was a subterfuge to facilitate widespread Chinese settlement in Tibet.


 Kham and Amdo provinces in Tibet are the worst affected by this demographic policy. By 1959, when China installed its Government in the Tibetan capital, Chinese population in these eastern parts of Tibet had already reached an alarming proportion. The influx escalated from 1962 onwards when thousands of additional Chinese settlers were sent into these areas as ‘builders, workers, and technicians’.


In fact, in a statement to the Legal Inquiry Committee of International Commission of Jurists, way back in August 1959, the Dalai Lama said that in 1955 he had heard an important Chinese official mentioning to the Panchen Lama, “Tibet was a big country and unoccupied and that China had a big population which can be settled there”. There is clear indication of the policy of population transfer in Mao Zedong’s 1952 statement: “Tibet covers a large area but is thinly populated. Its population should be increased from the present two or three million to five or six million, and then to over ten million”. In the aftermath of the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Premier Zhou Enlai observed: “The Chinese are greater in number and more developed in economy and culture but in the regions they inhabit there is not much arable land left and underground resources are not as abundant as in the regions inhabited by fraternal nationalities”.


The fact that this demographic ploy is a part of the Chinese policy to suppress Tibet can be understood from the incentive the Chinese government provides to the settlers in Tibet. In fact all housing, health-care, cultural and educational facilities that China claims to have built in Tibet are all part of an enormously expensive plan to provide for the Chinese in Tibet. To encourage Chinese population to settle in Tibet other costly subsidies like high-altitude allowance, and transporting wheat and rice by truck to Tibet are provided to them.


Annual wages for Chinese personnel are 87 per cent higher in Tibet than in China. The longer they stay in Tibet, the higher the benefits. Vacations for Chinese personnel in Tibet are far longer than those in China. For every 18 months of work in Tibet, they receive a three-month leave back to China, and all the expenses are paid by their Government.


The Chinese entrepreneurs receive special tax exemptions and loans at low-rate interest in Tibet, whereas for Tibetans to start an enterprise in their own homeland is extremely difficult. In Kham and Amdo, most of the fertile lands in the valleys have been given to Chinese settlers, driving the Tibetans to barren lands. Almost all key administrative positions in Tibet are held by the Chinese. Furthermore, Chinese settlers are given preference over Tibetans in jobs created by forestry and mineral exploitation in Tibet.


The general economic impact of the Chinese settlers on Tibetans may be gauged from the following example: Of the 12,827 shops and restaurants in Lhasa city (excluding Barkhor), only 300 are owned by Tibetans. In Tsawa Pashö, southern Kham, Chinese own 133 business enterprises whereas Tibetans own only 15. The ownership ratio is in other Tibetan towns: 748 to 92 in Chamdo, 229 to 3 in Powo Tramo. The situation is far worse in the urban centers of Amdo, where, according to one British journalist, Tibetans are reduced to ‘tourist curios’. A well-planned large-scale Chinese population transfer policy has marginalized Tibetans in economic, political, educational and social spheres in their own homeland. In the early 1980s, the Tibetan Government-in- Exile estimated the Chinese population in the whole of Tibet at 7.5 million. The figure today may be well in excess of this. The Chinese population transfer policy has reduced the Tibetans in Tibet to a minority. Thus even if at any future date the Tibetans manage to get their long standing demand for plebiscite for determination of their future they will be at great disadvantage.


Along with the policy of population transfer, China has also implemented an even more sinister policy of controlling Tibetan population by repressive measures of birth control. From 1984 China imposed its policy allowing Tibetan couples to have only two children. Heavy fines ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 Yuan or US$ 400 to 800 are imposed on Tibetan parents for the birth of a third child.


Extra children are denied ration cards and workers violating the rule have their pay cut to the extent of 50 per cent, or in some cases withheld altogether from work for three to six months. Such coercive measures as well as regular birth control campaigns and sterilization programs are implemented  to keep Tibetan population under control.


In Kham and Amdo, an even more repressive policy is being enforced. For example, in “Gansu Parig Tibetan Autonomous District” 2,415 women were sterilized in 1983 of whom 82 per cent were Tibetans. In 1987, 764 women of child-bearing age were sterilized in Zachu district in “Kanze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” of which 660 were Tibetans. Mobile birth control teams roam the countryside and pastoral areas where they round up women for abortion and sterilization. Even women well advanced in their pregnancy are forced to undergo abortion followed by sterilization.


The effect of all such policies to change the demography of Tibet has put the Tibetans in very vulnerable position. Although there is no independent census report of the Tibetan population living in Tibet today, historical Tibetan sources show that their population before the Chinese invasion was at least six million. Even statistics provided by the Chinese themselves suggested that the population of Tibetans was over six million in 1959 but now they insist that the total Tibetan population is only slightly more than four million. Where have the rest two million Tibetans during last fifty years? It is ironical that China, a communist country is wreaking the Tibetans the same havoc that the capitalist Americans inflicted on the Red Indians centuries back. Imperialists, it seems, in all ages, in all cultures are no different.


– Partha Gangopadhyay.



  1. Cardano said,

    In fact the these housing estates built for nomads or ordinary Tibetans are nothing more than big prisons where they are herded together and kept under close surveillance.
    It’s a way to easily control them and prevent any uncontrolled breeding by this ethnic minority.
    And why the housing projects, when the Tibetans themselves don’t want to live there?
    Land grab; the Tibetans have their land, livestock and possessions stolen by the Chinese, and in turn have to pay for housing they don’t want, can’t afford, and don’t want to live there anyway.

    The two child exception for Tibetans is another propaganda lie; in practice Tibetan women face forced sterilization and abortion after one child only.
    One must be familiar with the Chinese way of statistics. All the grand achievements they claim on paper with dazzling statistics don’t translate into Tibetan welfare or improvement of standard of living.
    Han Chinese migration into Tibet muddles the picture massively, and in fact the Tibetans are discriminated against on every level, as rightly pointed out.

    Some food for thought in this viewing here:

  2. klashinko said,

    Cardano, yes the life of Tibetans suck under CCP, but you fail to mention how much more it sucked before the CCP.

    The Tibetans lived as slaves to the upper class nobility. People who opposed the ruling religious class were tortured and killed like it was the Spanish Inquisition.

  3. Meera said,

    klashinko, past crimes cannot justify today’s crimes. Tibetans are being robbed of their own land. They are becoming more and more vulnerable everyday in their own land. This is due to state sponsored Han Chinese colonisation. This trend of cultural and ethnic genocide by grabbing land and changing demography is today speading from China to India and Sri Lanka…

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