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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.

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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.
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