P. Edronkin

The Unsolicited Economic Growth Of Tibet

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Today, Tibet is experiencing a fantastic growth of its economy, bolstered by the Chinese miracle, and everything seems to be okay, according to the authorities in Beijing, but is this really what Tibetans want? This nation is today a supposedly autonomous region or province located in the south western part of China, but most locals and those who live in exile have repeatedly said that they do not want the Chinese anymore there, after their big neighbour militarily assaulted Tibet and occupied it; but their plight is becoming more difficult as time passes because China seems to be a rising star applauded by other nations.

The history of Tibet is closely related to that of Buddhism, some of the greatest mass migrations in Asia, military campaigns of conquest as well as myths and legends that evolved from the awe that people feel for the highest mountains in the world, like Mount Everest. The country has been inhabited and has had political institutions since the rule of the Man-la-khri or kings of divine origin, according to the Bon cult, an animistic and magical system of belief that was present at the region long before Buddhism arrived.

Since then, and despite the fact that the Tibetan culture has been very distinct from the beginning, several conquerors tried to claim the country as their own. Of course, such a convoluted history also means that the culture of the invaders has had some influence over local customs: the Dalai Lamas were at a time appointed by the Mongols and the world "Dalai" even means "ocean" in the Mongol language, which is odd, since an ocean is something pretty alien for the people who is located farthest than anywhere in the world from any ocean. But the Tibetans had their good years too: Khri-song-lde-Tsan was bold enought to conquer the Chinese capital, one day: however, in recent times, Chinese authorities have finished a railroad that starts at Beijing and reaches Lhasa, in Tibet, turning effectively the tide.

The idea is to bring economic growth and strategic control to the region; but for some, this is an unwanted development because Tibetans just want to be left to their own devices and whish no fast food restaurants and consumer-electronic shops there, seeing the whole matter as yet another attempt to erase their cultural heritage. And to this we would have to add the current enthusiasm that the world feels for China and its economic growth, forgetting that after all, it is a communist dictatorship far removed from democratic values. This only will invigorate the Chinese perception of the Tibetan issue and indeed, the combination of these factors may end if not in the disappearance of the whole culture of Tibet, on its virtual eradication as a force capable of producing some sort of political change.

Let's not forget that the Chinese growth paradigm implies contamination, the destruction of whole ecosystems, historical sites as well as significant collateral damage in cultural and ethnical terms. It is perplexing how commercial capitalist greed joins communist authoritarianism in the venture of destroying a free nation.

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