“Dear Migrant, you are invited to Tibet”

One absurdity to come out of the recent Chinese census was the claim that Tibet is still 90% Tibetan.  You don’t need to be a demographic genius to figure this one out- just get a map and look at the comparative sizes of the Tibetan and Han sectors of Lhasa.  One dwarfs the other.  Tibetan Expression posts about how these numbers could have become so skewed:

Since the 1980s, state-recruited Chinese volunteers and migrants mostly from poverty-stricken Chinese provinces have entered TAR and over the years, their number has visibly increased – no matter what the skewed official statistics say. And eyes don’t lie. We have had many independent visitors to Tibet recount their tales of witnessing the ever-increasing presence of non-Tibetans particularly in business sectors in places like Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

A freelance journalist once asked one of my friends if it was possible to get exact figures on Chinese-Tibetan population ratio in Lhasa. In your dreams, I would have told him had I met him. Most of us know Chinese censuses do not count the migrants living in Tibet. Or the so-called official volunteers, soldiers, et al. They are counted where they had been registered or born – in their ancestral village, town or city. Despite the dearth of statistical evidence, Tibet has been involuntarily hosting these ubiquitous migrants for decades now.

One of the fictions that Beijing has maintained for quite a long time is that their policy has nothing to do with the growing number of migrants in Tibet. Recently, Beijing-based Tibetan writer/blogger Woeser debunked this claim. Essentially, the intrepid blogger says there is official support to Chinese migrants in Tibet under the guise of innocuous-sounding “preferential policies” and other “reforms” including schools for migrant children in Lhasa.

Now, this still doesn’t mean that Beijing is encouraging immigration for the sole purpose of erasing the Tibetan populace- but sure, that does happen to be a side effect.  If only the Tibetans had some kind of autonomous region which could safeguard their interests…

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Filed under China, Tibet

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