Tibetan Unrest Highlights Rejection of Chinese Development Goals

Stephanie Ho

China has long championed its policies in Tibet as aimed at boosting development and raising living standards in a remote and impoverished region. But, as Tibetan protests and self-immolations continue in some areas, the unrest is a public rejection of those claims of progress.

Tibetans are depicted in official Chinese media as members of a happy minority group with colorful traditions that include singing, dancing and, for nomadic herders, archery. The images support the Chinese government’s claims that living standards are rising and Tibetans are content.

Tanzen Lhundup, with the China Tibetology Research Center, says Beijing's concern for Tibetan people is genuine.

“The government has invested heavily in improving peoples' living conditions, infrastructure in Tibet and education. It has introduced a great number of preferential policies in support of the Tibetan areas. The changes in Tibet and Tibetan areas have been fundamental,” Tanzen Lhundup said.

Although the local economy has grown, so has the sense of desperation among many ethnic Tibetans. In the past year nearly 30 have set themselves on fire - vividly demonstrating that they would rather die than live under Chinese rule.

Many of the recent anti-China protests, like one last week in Qinghai province, involve Buddhist monks, who have long played a central role in Tibetan culture.

“We have no freedom, no religious freedom and not even freedom of speech. The pressure is too great. People have no choice, so we protest,” said one monk in Gansu province, who asked to remain anonymous.

The protests and immolations have led to no notable changes from Beijing.

Lian Xiangmin, also with the China Tibetology Research Center, echoes the government’s view that the protests are artificially manufactured - not linked to actual grievances.

“I think first of all, those who plan such incidents should stop. Two, the Dalai Lama should issue a statement to call for an end to such cases and express his opposition to such behavior. Three, the media should stop playing up such incidents,” Lian Xiangmin said.

In China, the protests go largely unmentioned in state media, which instead focuses on rituals that emphasize Tibet as an inalienable part of Chinese territory.

The Dalai Lama, who remains a potent spiritual and political symbol for Tibetans, has largely refrained from publicly commenting on the immolations.

For both sides, the immolations remain a symptom of a problem that the other refuses to acknowledge.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: kevin
March 27, 2012 7:45 PM
Well, i know i can not persuade the foolish people to believe our determination. But, we will keep our independence with will and blood. We love peace, we will not invade Iraq or Afgan like US or British, time will witness that

by: Sam
March 26, 2012 5:49 PM
this is to the guy called "Anti-China Government". Whether the China Government wants the sun, moon and stars or not has nothing to do with if Tibet is part of China or not. Tibet will forever be part of China. The reason is simple-every drop of water in Chinese rivers comes from Tibet. You really think we will let Tibet be independent???? until every drop of Chinese blood runs dry it won't happen.

by: Xing
March 26, 2012 1:51 PM
"Reporter Sethi says protesters gave indications well before Monday's immolation that something unusual was going to happen.
Still, Choedon Lama, regional general secretary for the activist Tibetan Youth Congress, insists the self-immolation was spontaneous."
Thanks VoA. Now you give the truth who are behind the self-immolation.

by: Joel
March 25, 2012 8:45 AM
It's interesting. People complain and argue how China is trying to rid Tibet of its culture, religion, language, identity, etc. but no one ever asks why. The are about 56 other ethnic minorities living in China that seem to live in relative peace. Why not Tibet? I am not saying that I condone China's actions, but there might actually be a little bit more justification for it than the Free Tibet activists are leading to believe.

by: Anti-china government
March 25, 2012 7:30 AM
China gov. does not only want Tibet but also the whole world. Now they aggressively occupy the South East Asian sea and Indian ocean that are not belonging to them historically. They want everything. If possible they also want to own the Moon, the Sun too in order to control the world. They have a term called "the soft border", this means where a Chinese living is the land of China. They are greedy and selfish. The world need to know and be extremely cautious about them all the time.

by: Xing
March 25, 2012 1:37 AM
CCP made a big mistake in 1980s. They sent a party chief called Wu Jinghua to revive the Lama religion in Tibet. Then Dalai Lama become something. Do we really need someone like us to rule us in spirit or even in real life? Is it called democracy and freedom?

by: @M
March 23, 2012 11:26 PM
Tibet is always Chinese territory. I don't know why so many people want to seperate it form China. Maybe they don't want China to become stronger.

by: Leave China alone
March 23, 2012 6:10 PM
Tibetan are Chinese. Nothing can change that. Why do some guys always want to separate them? Actually we do have wrong policy for Dalai Lama. We do not need to care about him. Just learn from US and other weatern countries, keep the traditional culture in some small places. Most of Tibet should live various nationalities and good benefits should be used to attract some Tibetan to live the other provinces.

by: Masa(2)
March 23, 2012 5:12 PM
I less respect China as a state than any other country, no matter how China may reach wonderful economic development and grab hegemony in the world. contemporary China will not gain at all from the world as much respect as past Chinese dynasties did.

by: Masa(1)
March 23, 2012 5:12 PM
In the past, serial dynasties in China used to have good relationships to local minority groups, giving them self-rule.Now, the contemporary Chinese authorities not only rob them of self-rule, but also try to destruct their culture, ethnic identity,and pride.
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs