- Since Xi Jinping assumed power at the last Party Congress in 2012, there have been significant developments in China’s Tibet policy, reflecting its prominence to the Communist Party leadership as an issue that is integral to China’s territorial concerns, the future of China’s economic expansion and the legitimacy of the CCP itself.
- China has dramatically tightened control in Tibet in advance of
the 19th Party Congress in Beijing from October 18. Massed ranks of troops and special forces gathered in Lhasa and other cities in the Tibet Autonomous Region for intimidating military drills in which soldiers swore allegiance to “protecting the 19th Party Congress”. Despite the already oppressive measures in place, the leadership in Tibet has emphasized even stricter ‘rectification’ with grassroots Party organisations warned to be even more “effective battle fortresses”.
- The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has been closed to foreigners during the Party Congress. Tibetans have been further isolated from the outside world due to more systematic blocking of communications, creating dangers even in innocent family conversations in the buildup to the meeting in Beijing, and are being subjected to more intrusive ideological campaigns.
This International Campaign for Tibet overview, based on analysis of numerous official and unofficial sources, seeks to track the latest developments in Tibet at the time of the Party Congress. This is in the context of the Chinese authorities’ sweeping political and strategic objectives in Tibet and the rise of a ‘control state’, in which the Party has an increasingly intrusive role in people’s everyday lives and beliefs.
“As Xi Jinping’s second term approaches, he presides over an alarming change in Tibet policy that has surpassed previous repressive measures. In essence, these measures represent an attempt to erase the distinction between the ‘official’ and the private sphere of the Tibetan people and to tighten control Tibet” Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet said.
As recently stated by the Dalai Lama during the “Five-Fifty Forum on Tibet” held by the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamshala, India, “China tried to eliminate Tibet’s cultural identity through brainwashing, bribes and even force. But it failed. Chinese leaders never expected (the) Tibet issue to remain alive even after 50 years. But it is alive and growing stronger.”
“It is of urgent importance that the new Chinese leadership coming out of the 19th Party Congress re-evaluates its policy toward Tibet, and seeks to engage with the Dalai Lama and his representatives to find a lasting solution,” Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said.
New developments in China’s Tibet policy
— འོད་ཟེར།唯色Woeser (@degewa) October 7, 2017
Major policy developments on Tibet since the last Party Congress include:
- A new emphasis by Xi Jinping on “ecological civilization” that reflects the strategic importance of the Tibetan plateau and the leadership’s need to address the progressive scarcity of water resources in the North and North-East of China with water sourced in Tibet, which is the source of most of Asia’s major rivers. The new term also reflects the Party’s use of opaque language to characterize their land use policies as conservation of the environment, despite the devastating impact for instance of massive dams and mining projects on the fragile high-altitude ecosystem of the Tibetan plateau.
- The announcement that vast areas of Tibet will be turned into ‘national parks’, which advance tourism and risk the further displacement of Tibetan nomads despite their essential role as stewards of Tibet’s landscape and wildlife.
- A shift towards a post-industrial economy based on tourism as a key driver of economic growth. Tourism is also being used to confront revivalist trends of Tibetan religious and cultural expression and contain monastic development.
- At the same time, massive urbanization has been announced in Tibet, which has been predominantly rural – a key mechanism designed to meet economic objectives but with the political agenda of integrating Tibetans into the PRC, undermining ‘ethnic autonomy’ and ensuring top-down control. The official media has announced there will be seven new cities in Qinghai by 2020, as the Chinese authorities seek to urbanize nearly half a million people and create a new network of transport and communications infrastructure.
- Consistent with China’s global aims under the ‘One Belt One Road’ strategy, the leadership is now undertaking the most thorough scientific study of the entire Tibetan plateau, underlining its objectives to “utilize the unique geographical advantages of the Roof of the World”. Major initiatives underway support key objectives of the Party in Tibet, including the creation of a Mars simulation base on the Tibetan plateau in northwest Qinghai and a major astronomical observatory to detect gravitational waves in Ngari.
- Despite the absence of any violent insurgency in Tibet, an aggressive ‘counter-terrorism’ drive in Tibet with a strongly political dimension has involved an expansion of militarization across the plateau, as the Tibet issue is framed by the Chinese authorities as a ‘security problem’. China’s counter-terrorism law, adopted in 2016, introduced further extra-judicial measures, reinforcing the powers of local police and Party officials to impose restrictive measures and use violence against individuals with impunity.
- Repressive measures strengthening the reach of the Party state into people’s lives have been expanded across the entire plateau from the Tibet Autonomous Region, combined with a consolidation of the apparatus of the state such as the paramilitary and the People’s Liberation Army. Continued expansion of the powers of the United Front Work Department, whose activities in domestic and international influence are regarded by the CCP as a “magic weapon”.
- A drive to increase Communist Party membership particularly among young Tibetans in rural areas as part of efforts to replace loyalty to the Dalai Lama with compliance to CCP policies.
- More systematic and far-reaching efforts to ‘sinicize’ Tibetan Buddhism, as the Chinese government seeks both the secularization of society and to actively use religion for political purposes, with Buddhism as one of the religions that is accepted as ‘official’ by the CCP.
- The advancement of technologies of surveillance and data accumulation as Xi Jinping seeks to concentrate power and eliminate not only dissent or unrest in Tibet, but even moderate or mild expressions of Tibetan identity and culture that may differ from ‘official’ representations.
- A policy orientation towards the elimination of social and cultural differences among ‘ethnic minorities’ in the PRC, including Tibetans, reversing earlier approaches recognizing ‘ethnic autonomy’ and strengthening of policies that undermine Tibetan language, culture and religion.
Military show of force signals China’s policy imperatives
Videos circulating online showed massed ranks of troops and special forces in the square in front of the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s traditional winter residence in Lhasa, on September 26 for a “combat exercise” specifically linked to the 19th Party Congress, according to the state media.
The drill, described as the “19th Party Congress stability maintenance and security vow-making and mobilization meeting and readiness drill”, involved troops swearing their allegiance to the Party and its mission, which they repeat as follows: “To oppose terrorism and violence, and to stabilize Tibet by securing the border; to firmly strengthen the base, and [win] people’s hearts; […] and to fight hard for stability maintenance and protection to have a complete victory.” The troops also vowed to protect the 19th Party Congress.
This political language – imposed despite the lack of any violent insurgency in Tibet – refers to the CCP priority to ensure Tibetan compliance to Party policy and the need to extinguish any allegiances to the Dalai Lama. Party leaders have made it clear that Tibet is a central priority, critical to the long-term objectives of the Party state.
Zhuang Yan, Vice Governor of the TAR and Deputy Party Secretary, said that the military drills were being held “at a decisive stage of ‘stability maintenance’ work in the TAR” in order to “provide a forceful deterrent to all hostile separatists and subversive elements” at the time of the 19th Party Congress. According to the Chinese state media, military drills were also held simultaneously in the key political and historical locations in the TAR of Shigatse (Chinese: Rikaze), Lhokha (Chinese: Shannan), Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu), Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu), Ngari (Chinese: Ali), and Nyingtri (Chinese: Linzhi) in order to prioritize “stability maintenance for the 19th Party Congress.”
‘Stability’ is a political term emphasized by China’s leader Xi Jinping, involving a broad and deep expansion of the powers of military and police backed by grass roots propaganda work and electronic surveillance. Policies relating to security and political control since 2011 are grouped together under the umbrella term ‘stability maintenance’ which refers to the security measures instituted across the country from 2007 onwards to counter unrest and dissent. In Tibet today, even moderate and mild expressions of national identity, religion and culture can be classified as ‘splittist’ and therefore ‘criminal’.
In addition to the display of military force, the Chinese leadership has emphasized the stepping up of grass roots measures of control. At the preparatory Party meeting to welcome the 19th Party Congress, TAR Party Secretary Wu Yingjie stated: “The fierce battle of stability maintenance and security work during the 19th Congress must be an outright victory.” In his speech, Wu Yingjie focused on grass roots measures of social control by the CCP, indicating that at the time of the Party Congress every single person should be involved in the drive for political ‘stability’. Party Secretary Wu referred to the need for intensified engagement on a war footing with the requirement to: “Make grassroots Party organisations effective battle fortresses, raise the level of comprehensive rectification […] Carry through the principles of prevention as the key, attention to problematic issues, sifting through the multitude of opinion, and readily responding to any enquiry [or challenge]”. The latter statement refers to the requirement to sift through what people are overheard saying, in order to ensure that only what is consistent with the Party line is retained. Wu Yingjie’s statement about being ready to respond to any query means that even if an issue does not affect the individual Tibetan directly, he or she should always be ready to respond in a way that is politically appropriate by CCP standards. The language used by Wu Yingjie is a revealing indication of the scope of CCP grass roots social control and its deep impact on everyday lives.
There has also been an intensification of grass roots propaganda work in advance of the Party Congress outside the TAR. In one area of eastern Tibet, Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai, 177,000 portraits of CCP leaders – Xi Jinping, Hu Jintao, Jiang Zemin, Deng Xiaopeng and Mao Zedong – were distributed to Tibetan nomads and herders in eastern Tibet. The images were displayed “in a golden frame with the colorful Tibetan traditional white scarf”, according to the state media, which reported that this signaled an increase in “grass roots patriotism”. The same article stated that Tibetan farmers and herders “voluntarily” displayed the Party leaders image in their homes, expressing their gratitude to the Party in advance of the Beijing meetings this month.
‘Stabilizing the border, stabilizing Tibet’
Reflecting the oppressive measures in place in Tibet in the buildup to the Party Congress, the local authorities in Nyingtri were awarded the highest prize in the PRC for their political work ensuring ‘stability’, indicating the oppressive measures in this highly militarized and strategic region bordering Arunachal Pradesh in India. Nyingtri is the first area in the TAR to win the award in the last few years, underlining the Party line of: “Development is the priority, but stability is the first responsibility”.
The closure of Tibet Autonomous Region to foreign visitors during the time of the Party Congress underlines this message, that tourism and related development must be subservient to the political and security interests of the Party state.
The same Chinese article stated that Nyingtri focuses on the imperative of maintaining control of its border in order to “stabilize Tibet”. Party officials equate political ‘stability’ in the TAR with the security of the entire PRC, partly because Tibet is an important border area. The message from the troops on the Potala Square echoes Xi Jinping’s assertion that “in administering border regions”, “we must first of all stabilize Tibet”.
Earlier live fire military drills in border areas of Tibet over the summer seemed intended to drive home this point. In the fifth week of serious border tensions between China and India, in July, China released footage of a major military live-fire assault exercise in the TAR. Soldiers used flame-throwers, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns to strike bunkers and various types of heavy weapons, including mortars, self-propelled howitzers, multiple rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles in the display of fire-power, which also trialed a new type of tank.
Military capability in the border areas has been emphasized over the last few months by the Chinese leadership in Tibet. Senior officials visiting Shigatse (Chinese: Rikaze) in mid-September stressed that implementation of the “key strategic instructions of Xi Jinping” “over stabilizing the border and Tibetan areas” should be improved “to mark the 19th Party Congress” as well as “educating the masses to feel gratitude to the Party, to listen to the Party and follow the Party.” The systematic focus on the need to educate the masses in such a way indicates that the Chinese authorities may be aware that gratitude to the CCP is not widespread.
Tightening control online in advance of Party Congress
TAR Party Secretary Wu Yingjie referred to the crackdown online prior to the Party Congress at a meeting in Lhasa on September 25 (2017) to convey the “instructions of Xi Jinping”. The meeting asserted the need to strengthen control over the internet, mobile phones, and block dissemination of information online that “undermines the reunification of the motherland, damages national unity, and incites violent and terrorist activities and other illegal activities in the region”.
In the buildup to the Party Congress, the Chinese authorities have forced the removal of virtual private networks (VPNs) from online mobile application stores, and have investigated social media platforms whose efforts to censor undesirable comments fell short. According to the official People’s Daily last month, electronic identity information (eID) will be embedded in a smart security chip and SIM cards, which means that the CCP has access into the most private sphere of people’s lives.
A new set of regulations for managing ‘Internet group information’ that took effect from October 8 intensify dangers for Tibetans, who are frequent users of platforms such as WeChat. Those who fail to comply with the regulations risk punishment themselves. The Chinese authorities are also able to block the popular platform WhatsApp at sensitive political periods.
A Tibetan from Amdo who is now in exile told the International Campaign for Tibet: “Now many of us have simply stopped speaking to family and friends inside Tibet, because of the dangers. It is as if the Communist Party can reach inside our minds now. These new measures are also affecting Chinese people as well as Tibetans.”
According to a report that circulated on social media, a training program for WeChat group organizers was held in Tsekhog (Chinese: Zeku) county in Malho, Qinghai, on September 27. The meeting, attended by top county government officials, was designed to intimidate Tibetans from sharing almost any content that might be perceived as differing from the Party view online, and making chat organizers responsible for anything circulated by someone in the group. Tibetans at the meeting were instructed on the new “Internet Group Information Service Management Regulations” issued by the Chinese National Internet Information Office on September 7, 2017, consisting of nine “do not send” provisions. These provisions, couched in deliberately broad and vague language that allow the CCP to define transgressions as they wish, are as follows: “Do not send politically sensitive topics; do not believe and send rumors; do not send the so-called ‘internal’ information; do not send contents with sex, drugs and violence; do not send news reports on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan which have not been published in the Chinese official website; do not send military information; do not send confidential documents involving the state security; do not send short videos that discredit and insult the police; do not send other information that violates relevant laws and regulations.”
In a similar meeting, in Tsolho (Chinese: Hainan), also in Qinghai, the heads of local Buddhist monasteries were summoned to a meeting from September 14 to 18 to warn them against the use of social media to view or spread “illegal content” during the Party Congress, according to Radio Free Asia (September 25, 2017).
The CCP drip-feeds only tightly controlled announcements from the Party Congress, and in addition to its closure of the TAR from October 18 to 28, has shut down multiple news and entertainment programs until after the meeting has concluded. So news of any specific discussions on Tibet or other matters will be unlikely to filter through to the outside world during the secretive twice a decade sessions in Beijing, where Party Secretary and President Xi Jinping is expected to consolidate his status and enshrine his ideological approach.
China’s strategic imperatives in Tibet
Tibet is a central issue for the Chinese Party state, of vital importance to Beijing, and policies of control over the plateau emerge from the pressing strategic and economic imperatives of the current Chinese leadership.
In its Tibet policy, the Chinese leadership is focused on control over its borders; raising the productivity of the core industrial cities of Xi’an, Chongqing and Chengdu at the foot of the Tibetan plateau; mining based on the rich resources of the Tibetan plateau (uranium, lithium, gold) in order to fuel China’s economic development; and addressing the progressive scarcity of water resources in northern China including Beijing with water sourced in Tibet.
This combination of factors has rendered Tibet increasingly relevant to China’s economic expansion. In order to ensure the CCP’s dominance and Tibetan compliance, Xi Jinping’s leadership has presided over intensified militarization, the establishment of a systematic security architecture and increasingly oppressive policies.
Security mechanisms are increasingly coordinated across the plateau, with the key policy direction highlighted at a meeting prior to the Party Congress in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan (the Tibetan area of Amdo) in late August. According to the state media, it was agreed to carry out: “Deep cooperation on five major aspects as ecological environmental protection, industrial development, science and culture, infrastructure and social governance” in Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. This also included the establishment of six long-term mechanisms including joint border patrols and other politically-oriented “security” initiatives in order to achieve a “new situation of a social security environment across the three provinces.”
The Chinese leadership is increasingly framing its policies in Tibet in the context of Xi Jinping’s ‘ecological civilization’. This broad and vague new Party terminology has been advanced under Xi to incorporate policy objectives from the creation of nature reserves and the settlement of nomads to a major new scientific study of the plateau. The idea of ‘protection’ of the landscape as opposed to ensuring its productivity appears to emerge from concern over Tibet’s water – regarded as a strategic asset by China – and its supply to China being threatened by degradation across the pastures of Tibet, in the upper reaches of both the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers. According to an official report, “Since the 18th Party Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the General Secretary has put the development of ecological civilization and environmental protection effort on a more important and strategic position, from the strategic perspective of the overall plan of the socialism with Chinese characteristics for ‘promoting economic, political, social, cultural, and ecological progress’”.
Emerging from this is a new development, which is that the mining permits in the TAR have been suspended, according to recent news in the Chinese state media. The “Global Times” stated that this was due to “a push to prioritize ecological preservation over economic development.”
It is not possible yet to ascertain whether this will be a consistent suspension of mining, or whether it is intended to prevent involvement of some local companies in favor of the interests of Chinese state-owned companies linked to the CCP. In addition, there may be other factors underlying this shift, such as a fall in demand for minerals in China. Tibet environment specialist Gabriel Lafitte has observed that China completed essential and expensive infrastructure to exploit the reserves in the TAR at the time that the copper price crashed and demand fell due to over-supply.
There are important mineral reserves in the TAR, particularly the large copper and gold deposits at Shetongmen near Shigatse in the TAR, at Yulong between Chamdo and Derge, and Gyama upstream from Lhasa. In the meantime, there is a strong focus on mining in the eastern Tibetan areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), the Tibetan areas of Qinghai and Sichuan, which are rich in resources such as lithium, essential for smartphone and laptop batteries.
The announcement of the suspension of mining permits in the TAR coincides with an increasing focus on tourism across the plateau, and the announcement that vast areas of Tibet will be turned into national parks.
While at face value this appears to be a welcome development in keeping with the Dalai Lama’s vision of Tibet as a protected zone of peace, the development is consistent with China’s policy direction involving the massive social engineering drive to remove and relocate Tibetan nomads from their pastures, given the grazing restrictions so far outlined in areas accorded national park status. It also allows the further development of mass tourism for domestic Chinese, particularly safari or adventure tourists.
For instance, China recently gained UNESCO World Heritage status for a vast landscape of wetlands, wildlife and lakes on the Tibetan plateau known as Hoh Xil (Tibetan: Achen Gangyab, Chinese: Kekexili), traditionally traversed by Tibetan nomads, which it is now likely to be developed further for adventure tourism.
Tour packages pitched at Chinese domestic tourists now promote Tibet as an unspoiled landscape, with stopovers in the arid herding districts of the north, the historic ruins of the depopulated far west, the slopes of Chomolangma (Mt Everest), and the forest, flowers, wild rivers and gorges to the east.
An ‘ecological civilization’ and national parks in Tibet
In the Chinese state media, the announcement of the establishment of national parks in vast areas of Tibet rich in wildlife and biodiversity was made in “the spirit of the 18th Party Congress”, and based on the instructions of Xi Jinping on “ecological civilization”.
A further official report stated that 61 different nature reserves and national parks would be created in the TAR, covering more than 800,000 square kilometers. (August 25, 2017).
In May, the Chinese state media announced that the TAR is expanding its upgrade of the nature reserve around the region’s largest lake of Siling in Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) to surrounding areas to establish the World’s Third Pole National Park. According to the article, the World’s Third Pole National Park will be established within Pelgon (Chinese: Ban’ge), Shentsa (Chinese: Shenzha), Nyima (Chinese: Nima) and Tsonyi (Chinese: Shuanghu district) counties in northern Nagchu, covering an area of 281,150 square kilometres. China Daily confirmed the aim to displace people in the area when it stated that the park would be established “in the future after human interference is eliminated and the wild animal population increases.”
The first ‘project meeting’ of the Third Pole National Park was held in Lhasa on July 2 (2017), with the vice governor of the TAR, Dorjee Tsedup, appointed as director, according to the Chinese state media.
The notion of Tibet as an “ecological civilization” is connected to the strategic importance of Tibet and its landscape, framed officially as an “Eco-environmental Security Shelter”. This is effectively an acknowledgement of Tibet’s strategic importance as the earth’s Third Pole, the largest repository of fresh water outside the North and South Poles, and a global climate change epicenter.
‘Main functional zoning’ of nature reserves imply greater restrictions for nomads
The nature reserves are set out according to guidelines known as ‘Main Functional Zoning’, also known as ‘red lines’, as set out in the 11th Five Year Plan of 2006. Zones are identified based on indicators such as ecosystem fragility and importance, economic development, or cultivable land, as well as “strategic choice”, according to a semi-official document. The same document states that most Tibetan areas (categorized under Western China) are primarily zoned as “Restricted Development with limited Key Development areas”, explaining that: “Main Functional Zoning identifies restricted development areas and has imposed ecological migration on many small communities.”
Most of China’s nature reserves are on the Tibetan plateau; upgrading to a national park not only has a higher status but is intended to give greater protection and investment in staff and programs to protect the natural values for which the area is famous. As the mention of ‘ecological migration’ in the document above makes clear, however, this also implies greater restrictions for the local Tibetan population, particularly nomads and herders.
In the last five years the Chinese government has accelerated implementation of policies to displace nomadic pastoralists from the vast Tibetan grasslands, a massive social engineering campaign that threatens to eviscerate a sustainable way of life uniquely adapted to the harsh landscape of the high plateau.
The Chinese authorities use a smokescreen of opaque terminology in order to convince that their land use policies are aimed at environmental conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation. Removing nomadic pastoralists from the grasslands they have protected for centuries is framed in terms of environmental protection – although the opposite is the case.
Last month, the Forestry Department of the TAR published some alarming new statistics on removal of herders and farmers from their land under the zoning rules, stating: “Since this year (2017), Tibet Autonomous Region has been carrying out ecological relocation to farmers and herdsmen living in the ecological functional area above 4500 meters above sea level. [The authorities] plan to relocate about 130,000 people over the next three years”.
Not only are these policies threatening one of the world’s last systems of sustainable pastoralism, but scientific evidence shows that these policies are threatening the survival of the grasslands and Tibet’s biodiversity. There is a consensus globally that settling nomads runs counter to the latest evidence on lessening the impact of grasslands degradation, which points to the need for livestock mobility in ensuring the health of the rangelands and mitigating negative warming impacts.
When an area has national park status in the PRC, according to Chinese laws currently in place, grazing is banned as traditional pastoral land-use is labeled as a ‘threat’, and so are traditional nomadic activities such as the gathering of medicinal herbs. This means the removal of Tibetan nomads who have protected the landscape for centuries, risking the survival of pastoralism, livelihoods and Tibetan cultural identity across the plateau.
National park status is imposed from the top-down, situating the state as the sole agency of control, and ignoring the concerns and expertise of local people. While regulations specifying relocation of Tibetans from core areas are set out in Chinese law, another article of the same law states: “The public security organ of the region where the nature reserves are located may set up its dispatched agency within the nature reserves to maintain public security if necessary.”
It is not known if any negotiations will be possible over the implementation of these laws as the new national parks take shape. In recent years, serious concerns about this policy direction have been raised within the PRC, as well as internationally. A growing number of Chinese professors and rangelands experts have become increasingly critical of government policies, arguing that a series of policy mistakes has caused overgrazing and degradation in Tibet’s grasslands – not the nomadic pastoralists themselves. More than 200 research papers have been published in China documenting scientific findings that no longer confirm the dominant official narrative by the Chinese leadership.
Professor Li Wenjun found that resettling large numbers of pastoralists into towns exacerbates poverty and worsens water scarcity. In published studies, she has said that traditional grazing practices benefit the land. “We argue that a system of food production such as the nomadic pastoralism that was sustainable for centuries using very little water is the best choice,” she wrote in a recent article.
In some areas, the knowledge and values of nomads and rural communities is receiving recognition, even among some officials. According to recent reports, a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Chengdu Institute of Biology, led by Sun Geng, studied desertification of grasslands in Dzoege, eastern Tibet, and compared the effect to natural restoration, moderate grazing, and no grazing on the soil and vegetation. They found moderate grazing helped accelerate restoration.
Chinese researcher Feng Hao wrote: “Previously, few would listen to the herders in Zoigê (Tibetan: Dzoege), which is 90% Tibetan. In fact, excessive grazing is the most common reason given for desertification, both in China and the world. [Drakyom] Palzang [a local Tibetan] explained that criticism of grazing was on the increase and ‘It wasn’t just the grasslands that were suffering, so was the herders’ confidence.’ It seemed the herders no longer had a right to be there, and efforts to protect the grasslands had to be led by scientific experts. Today, he thinks it is the millennia-old traditions and wisdom of the herders that best suit this place: ‘For the scientists, a grassland is part of the ecosystem. For businesspeople it is a way to profit. For herders it is a home. The herders should have self-confidence rather than worry that they are backwards and need to be removed.’”
China seeks to frame these developments in such a way as to persuade international institutions and governments and to protect its strategic leverage over downstream nations. At the same time as “ecological civilization” is prioritized, powerful state-owned Chinese consortiums are building multiple dams on all the major rivers running off the Tibetan plateau – when Tibet is one of the earth’s most seismically active regions. Large-scale mining in copper, gold, silver, chromium and lithium, signaling the remote region’s integration into the Chinese industrial economy, is having a devastating impact across the plateau, even while mining permits are now suspended in the TAR, and Tibetans who express even moderate concern risk being imprisoned, tortured, or killed.
Major scientific study of Tibet – and a Mars simulation base on the plateau
Earlier this year China announced a major scientific survey of the Tibetan plateau, using drones and satellites to investigate the ecology of the entire area. The survey will be the most ambitious conducted, 40 years after the first one in the 1970s, when technology was not as advanced.
The survey, underlining the importance of maintaining state control over Tibet’s resources to the Chinese leadership, was carried out under the auspices of the TAR government and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It began in June, and the same state media article stated that: “Findings will be used to provide scientific support for environmental protection and economic and social development in Tibet.”
The sheer scale and ambition of China’s long-term plans in Tibet is demonstrated by its announcement in August that it will set up a replica of Mars on a red sandswept area of Tibet, Tsonub (Chinese: Haixi) Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai. Xinhua reported that Tsonub was chosen for its Mars-like landform, landscape and climate, according to Wang Jingzhai, the prefecture’s deputy Party chief. (Xinhua, August 9, 2017). “The base, comprising a ‘Mars community’ and a ‘Mars campsite’, will be turned into China’s first cultural and tourist experience base for space and astronomical education, Mars-themed tourism, scientific research and film shooting,” stated Xinhua, which also released a video of the location at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxPgRzV-fOM
While the Mars simulation base plans are the latest step in Beijing’s multi-million dollar race for space, the area is also intended to boost tourism via ‘glamping’ and eco-tourism in a location accessible from China’s capital.
In addition, Chinese scientists are building a world-class observatory base in Ngari (Chinese: Ali) in the TAR with plans to “conduct high-precision detection of cosmic rays and build China’s largest optical telescope. Xue Suijian, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China, was cited as saying that: “China should utilize the unique geographical advantage of the ‘Roof of the World.’” The series of projects, scheduled to run until 2030, are aimed at “promoting Tibet’s social and economic development”, according to the same article.
National parks and major projects serve Party purposes for mass tourism
The developments of the new national parks, even the Mars simulation base, serve the purposes of the Chinese Party state now well underway to bring massive numbers of tourists to the plateau.
Nearly two decades after the Ninth TAR Five-Year-Plan announced tourism as a “pillar industry”, Lhasa and other parts of Tibet have been transformed into major destinations for Chinese tourists. According to a recent Xinhua report: “Visitors to Tibet grew from 10 million people in 2012 to over 23 million in 2016, growing 21.6 percent year on year. Tourism revenues grew by 27.2 percent each year, exceeding 33 billion yuan in 2016.” Even while the figures are certainly inflated – the number of tourists is usually exaggerated by officials to enhance the perceived performance of the tourism industry –, there is undoubtedly a tourist boom underway in Tibet.
According to the same state media report, “Tibet is promoting tourism, which has become a major driver of the region’s growth. It currently contributes to over 30 percent to the region’s total GDP. ‘Tourism produces pollution-free GDP and is a pillar sector in line with our green development path,’ said Zhang Gengyun, vice mayor of Nyingchi.”
The International Campaign for Tibet has documented how tourism is also being used as a tool by the Chinese authorities to confront revivalist trends of Tibetan religious and cultural expression and contain monastic growth, for instance at the well-known Buddhist institutes of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar in eastern Tibet. Mass demolitions and expulsions at Larung Gar and Yachen Gar witnessed since July 2016 are part of an unfolding political strategy involving more aggressive measures in order to curb and manage the growing influence and number of monks and nuns at these important monastic centers of study and Buddhist ethics in eastern Tibet, the largest such institutes in the world. Now, at the same time as undermining religious practice and teaching and stepping up intrusive security measures, the Chinese authorities are using this very interest in Tibetan Buddhism to attract domestic tourists, leading to fears of further diminishment of these monastic communities. The same trend is evident in other monasteries across Tibet that have become major tourist centers, such as Kumbum in Qinghai.
Expansion of tourism in Tibet
The dramatic expansion of tourism in Tibet has attracted cadres and entrepreneurs to new luxury resorts offering massive conference halls, discreet luxury dining and shopping malls. It has also stimulated a real estate speculative boom in Lhasa since the coming of the railway in 2006 that has led to a rapidly expanding new Chinese city across the river from the old Tibetan town, as well as other cities.
In Lhasa, the dramatic increase in tourism since the opening of the Golmud-Lhasa railway has been especially acute at historically important sites, such as the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple in the Barkhor area, and the Norbulingka. These sites also have a deeper significance to the Tibetan people because of their connection to the Dalai Lama and Tibet.
The push to advance tourism has now changed the dynamic of investment, drawing more foreign companies and governments to enter the Tibetan economy. The presence of global branded hotel chains, including InterContinental and Shangri-La in Lhasa, and a new Hilton golf resort in Nyingtri (Chinese: Linzhi), the TAR, are ultimately aligned with the interests of the Chinese security state, helping to bolster the leadership’s assertions of normalcy and ‘harmony’ in Tibet.
Massive investment in infrastructure in Tibet has served the dual purpose of opening up Tibet’s landscape, architecture, wildlife and heritage to tourists, and serving China’s strategic and military objectives. Mostly, new airfields are dual-use civil-military, enabling mobilisation of troops consistent with the authorities’ hyper-securitization of Tibet and maintaining its ‘territorial integrity’ in the border areas.
In the sensitive border area of Nyingtri, for instance, new infrastructure will serve both the booming tourist industry as well as ensuring China’s security concerns are met in the region. In the same week as China voiced its complaints about a visit by the Dalai Lama to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in April (2017), the state media announced the opening of the second largest airport terminal in Tibet at Nyingtri (also known as Kongpo) close to the Indian border. The new airport is located close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese authorities claim as ‘south Tibet’ and part of the PRC. Nyingtri airport is opening new air routes to Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, resuming routes to Beijing and increasing more round trip flights to Lhasa, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chongqing and Shenzhen, according to the state media.
The Chinese state media announced the beginning of construction of a new rail link to Nyingtri in 2014, as part of the extension of China’s rail network into central Tibet, which China describes as ‘the south-western frontier of the motherland’, underlining the Chinese leadership’s priorities of maintaining control in Tibet and expanding the CCP’s influence in the region. The rapid expansion of infrastructure so close to the border has raised alarm in India with implications for regional security being raised by commentators in India and South Asia.
Similarly, a new road linking Shigatse airport with the city center that opened last month will serve the interests of tourism and “can be used by armored vehicles and as a runway for planes to take off when it has to serve a military purpose,” according to the Chinese official newspaper the Global Times.
Political ‘stability’ the watchword as Party Congress approaches
Underpinning these developments in Tibet is the focus on ‘political stability’ – political language for the elimination of dissent and enforcement of compliance to Chinese Communist Party policies. Under Xi Jinping, domestic and external security concerns have risen to the top of the agenda and are the emphasis of the week-long Party Congress in Beijing.
According to a paper published by the China Policy Institute, “Under the tenures of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao between 1990 and 2012, there was an effort to find a more balanced relationship between economic development and national security, although economic issues remained the dominant priority. For Xi, the balance appears to have tipped decisively in favour of national security considerations. Economic development still remains a top concern for Xi, but it is increasingly defined in terms of ensuring social stability.” Author Tai Ming Cheung defined the PRC as a control state” under the broader definition of the “national security state”, in which “the leadership oversees a sprawling system of interlocking bureaucracies dealing with internal and external security issues in an integrated approach that emphasizes seizing control not only of traditional security concerns such as military and public security, but also of legal security (the judicial system) and information diffusion (propaganda system).”
Analysts in India have noted that as part of Xi’s reforms to the PLA, the reconstituted ‘West Zone’ military region, merging Lanzhou and Chengdu military regions, represents a strengthened military formation reflecting Beijing’s focus on Tibet and Xinjiang as security ‘problems’. Jayadeva Ranade, a member of India’s National Security Advisory Board, writes that: “Incorporation of the Qinghai region in the West Zone will facilitate the rapid induction and deployment of high altitude acclimatised and trained troops into Tibet and across Ladakh.”
A Party meeting in Qinghai in June was among those to emphasise this political imperative, stating that: “2017 is a key year to deepen the reform of national defence and armed forces, with a high sense of political responsibility and historical mission in the long-term.”
A new security architecture in Tibet
The 19th Party Congress as a keynote date has been referenced in numerous official meetings and “stability conferences” in Tibet since the beginning of the year. It was also emphasized during visits by TAR leaders to military bases in the buildup to the Tibetan New Year period in February, closely followed by the anniversary of the March 10 Uprising in 1959 and the protests that swept across Tibet in 2008.
China’s counter-terrorism law, which came into effect on 1 January 2016, its National Security Law and a new law on NGOs, together with oppressive new regulations on religion, comprise a comprehensive security architecture established by Xi Jinping, encompassing military, political and Party propaganda objectives as well as heightened surveillance and media censorship.
A recent paper in a police journal confirmed the rationale for the disproportionate responses of China’s security policies in Tibet, stating that: “The current threat of violent terrorism faced by our country comes primarily from Tibet independence forces and the ‘three evil forces’ in Xinjiang.” The same paper directly blamed the Dalai Lama as the “leader” of the “Tibetan independence elements who have fled abroad”, and makes a direct correlation between incidents of violence in Xinjiang such as the March 1, 2014 attacks at Kunming railway station with the overwhelmingly peaceful resistance and protests in Tibet.
Another document monitored by the International Campaign for Tibet from the Sichuan Police College is indicative of the highly militaristic language used by the police and armed forces, with content high in political, inflammatory rhetoric consistent with the disproportionate response demonstrated by the authorities. This 2014 document by Guo Lin refers to the need for a police officer to be “battle ready” at all times to cope with “the special conditions in the Tibetan areas of our province.”
These new developments are believed by many both inside the PRC and internationally to be counter-productive and provocative, with fears that they are likely to heighten tensions and increase the risk of violence by escalating the repression and limiting the recourse mechanisms available to certain groups, thus pushing them towards violence.
China’s new regulatory framework covering both security issues and Tibetan religious culture allows for the conflation of domestic protest, dissent or religious activity with international terrorism – thus reducing the pressure for governments to resolve both Tibetans’ and Uyghurs’ genuine grievances. This is likely to result in further alienation among those marginalized by state policies, and this risks increasing the appeal of violent action as a means to achieve change. By pressing a narrative that unrest in both Tibet is due to outside influences – the Dalai Lama and his ‘clique’ are blamed – the Chinese leadership also risks undermining the legitimacy of genuine international counter-terrorism efforts.
Tibet and Xinjiang: shared security strategies, and troops
A further new trend in the CCP’s approach in Tibet has been the strengthening of relationships between the TAR and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, including even the presence of troops from Xinjiang in the TAR. This relationship and shared security agenda has been emphasized by Wu Yingjie, who took over as the top Party boss of the TAR in September, 2016, and his predecessor Chen Quanguo, who was transferred to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, replacing Zhang Chunxian as Party Secretary (Xinhua, August 29, 2016).
The presence of troops from Xinjiang in a sensitive border area of Tibet and official visits by leaders from the region are indicative of a closer alignment of the regional authorities linked to intensified oppression and a ‘counter-terror’ drive imposed by Beijing.
Chen Quangguo, who may be rewarded with a promotion at the Party Congress, has developed a reputation as a pioneer of new methods for securing CCP control over Tibetans and Uyghurs. According to scholars Adrian Zenz and James Leibold: “In Tibet and now Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo lifted a strategy directly from the imperial playbook, with past colonial powers like England and Japan enlisting ‘native’ populations to watch over their own people. Ethnic minorities have long served the CCP in China. However, the numbers of Uyghurs and Tibetans that have been recruited into China’s security apparatus under Chen far exceed public recruitments during the preceding decade and are potentially setting a historic record.” (China Brief, the Jamestown Foundation, September 21 2017).
Analysing the statistics of police recruitment in Tibet and Xinjiang, Zenz and Leibold conclude: “Chen Quanguo’s securitization strategy achieves two stability maintenance goals at the same time: the construction of a dense network of police surveillance, and a range of new employment opportunities in a region where stable, well-remunerated jobs are still relatively scarce. Our analyses of recruitment documents indicate that Tibetans have benefited significantly from Chen’s job bonanza. Based on the available data, we estimate that between 2012 and 2016 about 77 percent of applicants who either obtained or were close to obtaining a government job were Tibetan. While this share is lower than the overall Tibetan population share of 90.5 percent, it exceeds the share of Tibetans among all TAR university graduates (only tertiary graduates are eligible to apply for formal government jobs).”
Wu Yingjie made particular reference to the strengthening of relationships between the TAR and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in a meeting in Lhasa last October (2016) with a delegation from Urumqi led by the city’s Party Secretary, Li Xuejun. The Chinese state media reported that Wu Yingjie emphasized the intensified control mechanisms in place in both regions, including the deployment of thousands of Party cadres to villages and towns across both Tibet and Xinjiang. When he met grass roots Party cadres in village committees in Ngari, he told them that their work helped “the masses” to “feel gratitude” to Xi Jinping and the Party leadership.
Intrusive new measures at grass roots level and the ‘integration of military and civilians’
The intrusive presence of Party cadres in villages and monasteries has been expanded in areas of eastern Tibet, following the ambitious deployment of a major village surveillance scheme since 2011 in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
TAR Party Secretary Wu Yingjie also referred to the official policies of ‘urban grid management’ and ‘double-linked households’ dramatically intensifying surveillance. The latter policy is known as ‘double-linked’ because it refers to “households linked for security and also for increased income”. The system has now been extended to areas outside the TAR, and is an integral element of the “grid” management system of more comprehensive control (Tibetan: dra ba, Chinese: wangge), which was initially introduced into urban parts of the TAR in April 2012 to form “nets in the sky and traps on the ground”.
Now that the grid management system is established across the Tibetan plateau, the Chinese authorities appear to have pulled back a more overt and visible security presence in some areas – such as troops in monasteries – with the awareness that forces can be deployed within minutes if any protest activity or dissent occurs. In the meantime the leadership is focused upon broader and deeper control measures, for instance in the religious sphere.
The ‘integration’ of civilians and the military, which connotes a deeper securitization of society as a whole as well as modernization of the PLA, is a concept that has also been emphasized in Tibet as well as across the PRC in the weeks prior to the Party Congress. Xi Jinping is also Chair of the Central Military Commission, and in January (2017) set up the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development, which he also heads. A recent session of the Commission, reported on September 22 (2017) by CCTV Evening News, adopted a plan for the development of defense science, technology and industry during the 13th five-year-plan period (2016-2020), and guidelines on advancing integrated military and civilian development in defense science, technology and industry.
According to a list released on September 6 (2017) of delegates of the PLA and People’s Armed Police (PAP) to the 19th Party Congress, there will be three Tibetan personnel among the PLA contingent at the 19th Party Congress. At the 18th Congress in 2012, there were no Tibetans among this delegation.
Renewed focus on military recruitment and CCP membership in Tibet
In some Tibetan areas, there has been a renewed focus on military recruitment linked to the 19th Party Congress. In Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan, local Party and military leaders presided over a conference aimed at attracting new recruits to the military on August 2 (2017). According to the prefectural state media, Li Yong, Kardze military commander, was critical of local leadership for not making enough effort to recruit military trainees, implying also that too many individuals are leaving the military. He said that more college graduates should be recruited, of a better “quality”, a term that refers to Party loyalty, and that there must be zero tolerance of people leaving the military. Another official emphasized that the matter of military recruitment is based on the Party’s concern for “long-term stability” with Kardze as the “frontline”.
In Tibet, Xi Jinping’s drive against corruption has been aligned with the ‘fight against separatism’, which in turn is linked to the increasingly systematic political campaign to eliminate loyalty to the Dalai Lama. This reached a new nadir when in May (2017), also in Kardze, the state media reported that officials were being compelled to undergo a polygraph test, popularly known as a ‘lie-detector test,’ linked to an evaluation of their political loyalty to the CCP.
The introduction of lie-detectors to test even Communist Party officials represents an escalation of the CCP’s efforts to assert its dominance in a climate it has created of fear and mistrust. It is also an implicit acknowledgement that in the official sphere as well as in the wider society, many Tibetans remain loyal to the Dalai Lama and maintain their strong sense of identity as Tibetans.
The Chinese authorities also align recruitment to the Communist Party, particularly among the rural population, as an integral element of the political struggle against ‘separatism” and the policy of “total control”. A state media report specifying the number of new members of the CCP referred to the propaganda battle for Tibetan allegiance since 2012: “In recent years, and particularly after the 18th Party Congress, all levels of Party organizations in the Region have earnestly implemented the decisions of the Central and Regional Party Committees, in accordance with the general requirements of ‘total control, optimized structure, improving quality, exert an effect’, with strict standards, following prerequisite quality assurance, giving prominence to farming and nomadic areas, with colleges as the front line in the Party member development battle against separatism work, keeping Party members on an appropriate scale, giving full play to the vanguard role of Party members, in order to promote Tibet’s long-term development with the strong organizational guarantee of a lengthy rule providing long-term peace.”
The same article, translated into English by the International Campaign for Tibet, stated that the TAR had recruited a total of 103,200 Party members since the 18th Party Congress, including 18,000 new Party members in 2016. By the end of 2016 the TAR had a total of 345,900 Party members, accounting for 10.46% of the total population of the TAR, according to the same article, bylined Chang Zhou. This total clearly includes Chinese, as the report specifies that 282,700 Party members are ethnic minorities, while farmers and nomads account for 171,000 Party members.
New threat to cultural survival with updated religious rules and ideological campaigns
While the Chinese authorities are marketing Tibet as a tourist destination based on the spiritual attractions of its Buddhist culture and landscape, Beijing has tightened its control over Tibetan religious expression and practice.
Revised Chinese government regulations on religion, issued by the State Council on September 7 (2017) in advance of the Party Congress, consolidate far-reaching powers of the Communist Party state over people’s lives and beliefs, and are a further threat to the continued survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet. Conflating peaceful religious activities with ‘threats’ to China’s security, the new regulatory framework creates a more dangerous political environment for monks, nuns, and lay Buddhists, and isolates them further from their counterparts outside China.
The new regulations indicate a more aggressive approach by the CCP on matters of faith and religious practice. While in 2015, Xi Jinping specified the need to “actively guide religions to adapt to socialist society”, the new language goes further, focusing ‘Sinicization’ of religion, stating: “The direction of religions is to integrate them with Chinese culture” (Global Times, September 7, 2017). The Buddhist community is one of the main targets of ‘Sinicization’ of religion, which represents a more far-reaching effort to mold and shape Tibetan Buddhism to the diktats of the Chinese Communist Party in line with a more entrenched regulatory framework that has already deepened religious oppression over the last decade.
Accompanying the regulations, new ideological campaigns have been launched this year in the TAR aimed at “diluting the negative impact of religion” and promoting loyalty to Xi Jinping as part of the intensified control agenda in the year of the 19th Party Congress. One new propaganda effort is focused around the “four loves”, which are defined as “core interests” of the Chinese Communist Party; the motherland; one’s home town, and one’s livelihood – and continues to be promoted in the region in the buildup to October 18. A similar campaign focuses on “four stresses”, which aims to generate admiration and loyalty for the Party and unity of the ‘motherland’. Officials have promoted the campaign in monasteries across the TAR, indicating the priority of ensuring compliance with CCP policy among Tibetan monks and nuns, and also in schools and Tibet University.
‘Ethnic mingling’ and the undermining of ‘regional autonomy’
The policy direction specified by Xi Jinping on Tibetans and other ‘ethnic minorities’ is summarized as “ethnic mingling” (jiaorong). In Inner Mongolia in 2014, Xi spoke about the need to “bind the people of each ethnic group into a single strand of rope.” (Xinhua, January 29, 2014).
Analyst James Leibold wrote: “In the Xinjiang Work Forum summary there is repeated talk about the need to remove ethnic barriers and forge collective identity. The statement includes the controversial phrase ‘strengthen interethnic contact, exchange and mingling’ (jiaqiang minzu jiaowang jiaoliu jiaorong).” According to influential Qinghua University economist Hu Angang, this phrase implies a ‘new policy orientation’, in the context of contentious proposals outlined in the so-called ‘second generation of ethnic policies’.
The political language emerges from an intense debate in policy and scholarly circles in China over the past few years on possible reforms of ethnic policies in the PRC, with some influential officials and academics including Hu Angang advocating a further scaling back of ethnic autonomy and preferential policies towards Tibetans and other ‘ethnic’ groups.
The Chinese government’s ethnic policy is laid out in a framework of laws and institutions characterised by the authorities as seeking to protect the autonomy of each of the 56 recognised ethnic groups (Chinese: Minzu), including Tibetans. But Communist Party control always supersedes the practice of regional ethnic autonomy in Tibetan areas of the PRC.
Urbanization in Tibet
Urbanization, taking place on a massive scale in Tibet, does not only have an economic agenda – but is a key mechanism for Beijing to further undermine Tibetan ‘ethnic autonomy’ status, and to further integrate Tibet into the PRC. Both urbanization and ‘municipalisation’ – in which a rural region effectively becomes a city – were core strategies of China’s ‘Western Development’ drive under the then President Jiang Zemin in 1999-2000. But they have been advanced even more rapidly under Xi Jinping.
Gabriel Lafitte notes that the securitization of Tibet ultimately depends upon urbanization: “Even with the latest technologies keeping an eye on millions of mobile pastoralists, spread across a plateau pasture as big as Western Europe is not possible. It may be no accident that the party-state has long defined development as the long term answer to all Tibetan problems, and urbanisation as the essence of development, the necessary prerequisite for delivery of all centralised services, from electricity to health, education and employment. […] Urbanised population concentrations are also more legible and accessible to the sovereign state.”
China’s “National New-Type Urbanization Plan” (2014-2020, launched in March 2014), aims to create more than 100 million new urbanites by 2020, building from the “Rural Poverty Alleviation and Development Program” (2011-2020, launched in November 2011).
Writing for ChinaFile, Gerald Roche, Ben Hillman and James Leibold noted that: “The Chinese state, as part of its arsenal of responses, has intensified urbanization, hoping that economic development and cultural contact will lead to assimilation and stability. However, cities are also becoming sites of resistance to assimilation and focal points of unrest, as well as arenas for internal power struggles about what it means to be Tibetan in contemporary China.”
While there is a broader trend towards migration to urban areas that has been well documented in the PRC, in Tibet there are political imperatives to its rapid advance. Increasingly, rural areas in Tibet are being encouraged to upgrade to ‘municipal’ (shi) status, as long as they meet certain criteria relating to urban population and economic infrastructure. In the process, Tibetans’ already limited claims to special political and cultural rights enshrined in the Chinese constitution and enacted through the Law on Regional Autonomy, are further diminished.
The same ChinaFile article states: “Throughout ethnic minority areas—from Xinjiang to Inner Mongolia and Tibet—urbanization is also a key mechanism within a series of ethnic policies designed to integrate restive minority populations. Cities promote cultural transformation and political integration through increased interethnic “mingling” (jiāoróng) with the Han majority. And while this process is intended to reduce separatist tendencies by minimizing ethnic difference, cities also conveniently lend themselves to monitoring and high-tech surveillance by China’s state security apparatus.”
Now five of the seven prefectures in the TAR, including Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) and Shigatse (Chinese: Rikaze) have been designated municipalities. Other cities have also been created in regions outside of the TAR with large Tibetan populations: Gyalthang (Zhongdian, now known as Shangri-La or Xianggelila) in Yunnan province; Dartsedo (Kangding) in Sichuan, Yushu in Qinghai, and Tso (Hezuo) in Gansu have each been “upgraded” in the past decade.
 Xi Jinping cited in Marcel Angliviel de la Beaumelle (https://jamestown.org/analyst/marcel-angliviel-de-la-beaumelle/), “The United Front Work Department: ‘Magic Weapon’ at Home and Abroad”, in: Jamestown Foundation, China Brief Volume: 17 Issue: 9 (July 6, 2017), https://jamestown.org/program/united-front-work-department-magic-weapon-home-abroad/.
 A full translation of the Chinese subtitles shown on the video is as follows: “19th Party Congress stability maintenance and security vow-making and mobilization meeting and readiness drill, prepare to conclude! Your instructions:
To the Party and the people, we solemnly swear…
To be loyal to the Party, and to remember our mission
To be loyal to the Party, and to remember our mission
To oppose terrorism and violence, and to stabilize Tibet by securing the border
To oppose terrorism and violence, and to stabilize Tibet by securing the border
To firmly strengthen the base, and [win] people’s hearts
To firmly strengthen the base, and [win] people’s hearts
To hold our honor, and dare to prevail
To hold our honor, and dare to prevail
I swear to protect the 19th Party Congress
I swear to protect the 19th Party Congress
And to fight hard for stability maintenance and protection to have a complete victory
And to fight hard for stability maintenance and protection to have a complete victory
Please be at ease, TAR Party Committee!
Please be at ease, TAR Party Committee!
Please be at ease, people of every ethnicity!
Please be at ease, people of every ethnicity!”
 Zhuang Yan is Deputy Party Secretary of the TAR Party Committee who served in Jilin prior to being posted to Lhasa. Most relevant to this military exercise, he is also Commander of the ‘Social Stability Maintenance’ Headquarters of the TAR. For biographical details of Party cadres in Tibet, see Jayadeva Ranade’s newly published book, ‘Cadres of Tibet’, KW Publishers, 2017.
 “Stability maintenance” in Tibetan is: brtan lhing srung skyong, བརྟན་ལྷིང་སྲུང་སྐྱོང་།, and in Chinese weiwen, 维稳. Since around 2013, these policies have also often been grouped under a second umbrella term, “social management,” which also refers to measures designed to achieve “stability” but implies the inclusion of measures providing services to the population. See Human Rights Watch, June 19, 2017, “A Glossary of Repression”, https://www.hrw.org/video-photos/interactive/2017/06/20/tibet-glossary-repression.
 ‘Stability maintenance’ in China and Tibet is increasingly regarded as a flawed tool of CCP control that is not only ineffective in dealing with underlying social problems, but also counter-productive. For instance, a report by the International Campaign for Tibet published on February 16, 2016 (https://www.https://savetibet.org/tightening-of-an-invisible-net-new-security-measures-in-eastern-tibet-heighten-surveillance-control/) cites Chinese scholar Xie Yu, who studied grass roots security measures including the deployment of Party cadres in villages across the PRC, saying: “Over the past decade, the CCP has greatly increased its investment in public security within grassroots communities. However, the empirical analysis demonstrates that this additional central government expenditure has not performed as expected. […] The social and political stability in these areas has remained as fragile as before or has become even worse.” Xie Yue, ‘Rising Central Spending on Public Security and the Dilemma Facing Grassroots Officials in China’, in: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 42, 2, 79–109, February 2013.
 This statement was made during the Sixth Work Forum on Tibet in Beijing in August 2015. A year later, Party Secretary of the TAR Wu Yingjie cited Xi Jinping as saying: “To govern the nation, we must govern our borders; to govern our borders, we must first stabilize Tibet.” “China Tibetan News Agency”, January 3, 2017, citing a Wu Yingjie speech in December, 2016, as reported in Reuters, January 3, 2017, “China tightens Tibetan border security to combat ‘separatism’”, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-tibet-lawmaking/china-tightens-tibetan-border-security-to-combat-separatism-idUSKBN14N0L7?il=0.
 International Campaign for Tibet, July 21, 2017, “Major live fire drill testing new tanks in Tibet highlights political imperatives, military capacity on plateau,” https://www.https://savetibet.org/ict-inside-tibet-major-live-fire-drill-testing-new-tanks-in-tibet-highlights-political-imperatives-military-capacity-on-plateau/. In addition, Chinese military sources confirmed the transport of what was described as “tens of thousands of tonnes” of military equipment, including army vehicles and troops to the Tibetan plateau in June.
 Washington Post, September 14, 2017, “China’s thought police are giving a master class in Chinese censorship,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2017/09/14/chinas-thought-police-are-giving-a-master-class-in-censorship/?utm_term=.6003b83f459f.
 People’s Daily, September 26, 2017, “China to introduce eIDs embedded in SIM cards”, http://en.people.cn/n3/2017/0926/c90000-9273773.html. Also see Gabriel Lafitte’s series of four blogs, “Making sincerity mandatory: The China dream of perfect surveillance and correction of all citizen behavior”, posted on July 15, 2017, http://rukor.org/making-sincerity-mandatory/.
 The ban was announced by telephone, a Tibetan employee in a travel agency in Xining, capital of northwestern China’s Qinghai province, told RFA’s Tibetan Service on September 22, 2017, “Tibet Closes to Travelers For 10 Days in October”, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/closes-09222017153847.html.
 Account of a Symposium on Development of Ecological Civilization held in Beijing, June 6, 2016, ttp://english.sepa.gov.cn/About_SEPA/leaders_of_mep/chenjining/Activities/201606/t20160620_354777.shtml.
 “Global Times” stated that at a press conference, Losang Gyaltsen, chairman of the standing committee of the Tibet People’s Congress, said environmental protection overrides development in Tibet. “No mining projects have been approved throughout the period under two leaderships in Tibet … No matter how profitable a project is, if it causes pollution, the government would turn it down,” Losang Gyaltsen was reported as saying, adding that no polluting enterprise has been introduced into Tibet in the past four years; “Global Times”; March 11, 2017, “Tibet priorities ecology over development projects”, http://en.people.cn/n3/2017/0311/c90000-9188825.html.
 Lafitte observes that China began to turn to other countries such as the Congo for mineral reserves, saying: “Much of this is because the Tibetan Plateau is huge, and mineral deposits are often in areas difficult to access. China has spent decades building infrastructure, but there is still so much to be done, especially before the massive copper/gold deposits at Yulong, in precipitous Kham, are ever to be mined, concentrated, smelted and shipped out to lowland Chinese industries.” Gabriel Lafitte, November 7, 2015, “Tibetan copper with Chinese characteristics”, http://rukor.org/tibetan-copper-with-chinese-characteristics/ ‘Spoiling Tibet: China and Resource Nationalism on the Roof of the World’, by Gabriel Lafitte, Zed Books, 2013.
 Beijing announced plans to develop Yulong in 2005. It had the PRC’s largest copper reserves and was regarded as the only known deposit in the region with world-class potential. Copper is vital to China’s development and industrialization, but as a raw material is in very short supply. The copper mine is located in Chunyido (Chinese: Qingnitong) village, Jomda (Chinese: Jiangda) county, Chamdo, in the eastern area of traditional Tibet known as Kham. International Campaign for Tibet, April 7, 2005, “China announces development of major Tibet copper mine to go ahead”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/china-announces-development-of-major-tibet-copper-mine-to-go-ahead/.
 See Gabriel Lafitte’s series of blogs on the exploitation of lithium in Tibet, http://rukor.org/innermost-veins-of-our-planet-1/. In a posting on March 21, 2017, Lafitte writes: “While the bulk lithium producers of Qinghai continue to extract the metal salts of Tibetan lakes in tens of millions of tons a year, they struggle to isolate and purify the elements sufficiently for the big new market for lithium, for the batteries powering everything from electric cars to smart phones, drones (military and civilian), even the buses that shuffle you across airport tarmacs and batteries that store solar and wind energy for peak periods of the day. Uses for lithium are exploding, despite the reputation of lithium batteries, poorly made in China, for overheating, burning and even literally exploding. While lithium-powered electric cars are yet to attract mass markets, despite big subsidies from the Chinese government, other uses are fast accelerating. That is why the rock mineralisations of lithium in Lhagang are back on the extraction agenda. The lithium is spread over a huge area, of hundreds of sq. kms, in dikes of once-molten rock that cooled so slowly that enormous crystals were formed in the pegmatite rock, among the largest crystals to be found anywhere. Geologists believe the presence of lithium was essential to slowing the cooling, allowing time for the crystals to form. The mineralised area is so large it extends to Nyagchu, 70 kms SW, home of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a lama who spoke up for the environment, was prosecuted and convicted by depicting him as a violent terrorist. He later died in gaol.”
 International Campaign for Tibet, June 30, 2017, “Nomads in No Man’s Land”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/nomads-in-no-mans-land-chinas-nomination-for-unesco-world-heritage-risks-imperilling-tibetans-and-wildlife/ and an update on World Heritage status. “Nomads in No Man’s Land: ICT Advocacy at UNESCO”, https://weblog.https://savetibet.org/author/kate-saunders/.
 An academic paper by Chinese scientists described this as follows: “The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (Tibetan Plateau) serves as an important shelter to safeguard China’s environment and ecological system. Its vast area and lofty altitude have a strong bearing on the atmospheric circulation and climate pattern over the plateau and its surrounding regions. With numerous glaciers, large area of permafrost, a variety of lakes and a dozen of large rivers, it plays an important role in water source supply and conservation. Thanks to its vast grasslands and forests, the plateau constitutes a major carbon sink by absorbing a large amount of green-house gases.” ‘The Influence of Climate Change on the Function of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as an Eco-environmental Security Shelter’, Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Vol.30 No.4 2016.
 Encircled by high mountains and with an average elevation of 4,500 meters above sea level, the Tibetan Plateau is the largest and highest in the world and a global biodiversity hotspot. Known as the earth’s Third Pole, it is a storehouse of freshwater and the source of the earth’s eight largest river systems, Tibet is a critical resource to the world’s 10 most densely populated nations surrounding the plateau. Tibet is a climate change epicenter that is warming nearly three times as fast as the rest of the earth. Its glaciers are melting, and its permafrost disappearing. And instead of seeking to protect this fragile high-altitude ecosystem and address the significant challenges it faces, China’s policies are reshaping the Tibetan landscape with devastating consequences. See International Campaign for Tibet, December 3, 2015, “Blue Gold from the Highest Plateau: Tibet’s water and Global Climate Change”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/ICT-Water-Report-2015.pdf.
 CCICED Task Force Summary Report: Strategy and Policies on Environment and Development in Western China, CCICED, 2012, cited by Gabriel Lafitte in his blog ‘National parks in Tibet, parking the nationals of Tibet”, April 10, 2016, http://rukor.org/national-parks-in-tibet-parking-the-nationals-of-tibet/. The blog includes a detailed explanation and sources on ‘main functional zoning’.
 Article 26 of a set of official regulations promulgated in 1994 governing the creation and administration of nature reserves states: “In nature reserves, such activities as felling, grazing hunting, fishing, gathering medicinal herbs, reclaiming, burning, mining, stone quarrying and sand dredging, shall be prohibited unless otherwise stipulated by relevant laws and regulations.” Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Nature Reserves 中华人民共和国自然保护区条例 [已被修订CLI.2.10458(EN), Decree No. 167 of the State Council, 10-09-1994.
 Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Nature Reserves, 中华人民共和国自然保护区条例 [已被修订CLI.2.10458(EN), Decree No. 167 of the State Council, 10-09-1994 includes the following: “Article 27. Nobody may be allowed to enter the core zone of nature reserves. If it is necessary for the residents living in the core zone of a nature reserve to move out, the local people’s government shall make proper arrangement to have them settled down elsewhere. Article 24. The public security organ of the region where the nature reserves are located may set up its dispatched agency within the nature reserves to maintain public security if necessary. Article 25. The units, residents in the nature reserves and the personnel allowed to enter into the nature reserves shall comply with various regulations of administration, and subject themselves to the management institutions of the nature reserves.”
 Tibet specialist Gabriel Lafitte details more than 200 scientific papers published in the PRC that support this conclusion, in a report for the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, published on May 30, 2015 entitled “Wasted Lives: A critical analysis of China’s Campaign to End Tibetan Nomadic Lifeways”, http://tchrd.org/wasted-lives-new-report-offer-fresh-insights-on-travails-of-tibetan-nomads/. Lafitte writes in the report: “Wherever there are pastoralists, there is now a fresh understanding that, far from being to blame for desertification, there are skillful stewards of drylands whose willingness to maintain mobility enables them to live productively and in environmentally sustainable ways from uncertain, unpredictable climates. In China, the biggest grassland country in the world, there are now Chinese scientists speaking up at every opportunity for the new paradigm, explaining how the old paradigm, of sedentarising nomads, has caused only perverse, unintended outcomes, chiefly the land degradation that is blamed on ignorant, uncaring, selfish nomads.” In a New York Times article by Andrew Jacobs documenting these policies, Nicholas Bequelin, the director of the East Asia division of Amnesty International, said the struggle between farmers and pastoralists is not new, but that the Chinese government had taken it to a new level. “These relocation campaigns are almost Stalinist in their range and ambition, without any regard for what the people in these communities want,” he said. “In a matter of years, the government is wiping out entire indigenous cultures.” In: New York Times, July 11, 2015: “China Fences In Its Nomads, and an Ancient Life Withers”, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/world/asia/china-fences-in-its-nomads-and-an-ancient-life-withers.html?_r=0.
 Li Wenjun, a professor of environmental management at Peking University, is one of those voices; she found that resettling large numbers of pastoralists into towns exacerbates poverty and worsens water scarcity. In published studies, she has said that traditional grazing practices benefit the land. “We argue that a system of food production such as the nomadic pastoralism that was sustainable for centuries using very little water is the best choice,” according to a recent article she wrote in the journal Land Use Policy. ‘Solving one problem by creating a bigger one: The consequences of ecological resettlement for grassland restoration and poverty alleviation in Northwestern China’ by Mingming Fan, Yanbo Li, Wenjun Li, Volume 42, January 2015, Pages 124-130http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837714001586, cited in New York Times, July 11, 2015, “China Fences In Its Nomads, and an Ancient Life Withers”, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/world/asia/china-fences-in-its-nomads-and-an-ancient-life-withers.html?_r=0.
Also see International Campaign for Tibet, September 5, 2017, “Tibetan nomads make rare appeal against removal from grasslands”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/tibetan-nomads-make-rare-appeal-against-removal-from-grasslands/.
 Scientists have documented how a combination of urbanization, intensified militarization linked to China’s strategic aims, infrastructure construction and warming temperatures are creating an ‘ecosystem shift’ in Tibet. This involves irreversible environmental damage, including the predicted disappearance of large areas of grasslands, alpine meadows, wetlands and permafrost on the Tibetan plateau by 2050, with serious implications for environmental security in China and South Asia. See International Campaign for Tibet, December 4, 2015, “Blue Gold from the Highest Plateau: Tibet’s water and Global Climate Change”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/ICT-Water-Report-2015.pdf.
 International Campaign for Tibet, March 13, 2017, “Shadow of Dust across the Sun: How Tourism is used to counter Tibetan cultural resilience”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/00620-ICT-Report-March-13-DEF-US-letter-LR.pdf.
 The new Hilton golf resort opened in March (2017) and according to Xinhua, “More and more visitors come to the hotel as Chinese travelers are increasingly affluent, and over 14,000 people have stayed in the hotel since it opened, an impressive performance for a new hotel”. Xinhua, August 30 2017, “Economic Watch: Booming tourism aids Tibet’s green growth”, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/30/c_136568375.htm?utm. Images of the hotel at the Hilton website: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/china/hilton-linzhi-resort-HGHLIHI/index.html.
 International Campaign for Tibet, November 12, 2014, “New strategic rail network to Tibet’s borders endangers environment, raises regional security concerns”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/new-strategic-rail-network-to-tibets-borders-endangers-environment-raises-regional-security-concerns/.
 China Policy Institute, January 4, 2017, “The Rise of the Chinese National Security State Under Xi Jinping’ by Tai Ming Cheung”, https://cpianalysis.org/2016/12/15/the-rise-of-the-chinese-national-security-state-under-xi-jinping/.
 There are several types of national security state, and the author defines the first two as follows: “In predatory security states, the security apparatus uses its power and influence to gain control of lucrative elements of the economy. Russia under Putin is a classic predatory national security state in which the intelligence bureaucracy has extended its tentacles across the economy. A second model is the garrison state in which the country finds itself under severe external threat and the military is the dominant actor. A contemporary example is Pakistan.”
 Jayadeva Ranade, February 4, 2016, “PLA Reform, Reorganization, Restructuring, and implications for India”, http://www.vifindia.org/article/2016/february/04/pla-reform-reorganisation-restructuring-and-implications-for-india. Ranade writes: “Of particular interest for India is the West Zone, which merges the erstwhile Lanzhou and Chengdu Military Regions. Comprising more than half China’s land area, 22 percent of its population and more than one-third of China’s land-based military, the newly constituted West Zone represents a strengthened military formation. The merger of the Lanzhou and Chengdu MRs will improve joint planning, coordination and operations. […] Establishment of the West Zone also reveals China’s increased and abiding military interest in the region in addition to facilitating focus on ‘threats in Xinjiang and Tibet as well as Afghanistan and other states that host training bases for separatists and extremists’.” Zhao Zongqi, Commander of the West Zone, served over 20 years in Tibet as Deputy Chief of Staff (1984-99) and Chief of Staff (1999-2004) of the Tibet Military District (TMD).
 For analysis of the impact of the counter-terror law, which came into effect on January 1, 2016, see International Campaign for Tibet and FIDH, November 2016, “China’s new counter-terrorism law: implications and dangers for Tibetans and Uyghurs”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FIDH-ICT-Chinas-new-counter-terrorism-law-Implications-and-Dangers-for-Tibetans-and-Uyghurs-15-11-2016-FINAL.pdf . The National Security Law was effective as of 1 July 2015; the Law on the Management of Overseas NGOs’ Activities in Mainland China was adopted by the National People’s Congress on 28 April 2016 and came into effect on 1 January 2017. International Campaign for Tibet report on the updated religious regulations, September 18, 2017, “China’s revised religious regulations threaten survival of Tibetan Buddhism”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/chinas-revised-religious-regulations-threaten-survival-of-tibetan-buddhism/.
 “Problems and their countermeasures existing within our country’s current anti-terrorism work”, by Sun Xiaojuan (Railway Police Academy, Zhengzhou, Henan), published May 2015, Journal of Hubei University of Police. See International Campaign for Tibet, December 5, 2016, “Rare admission of psychological impact on troops involved in counter-terror, oppressive policies”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/ict-inside-tibet-rare-admission-of-psychological-impact-on-troops-involved-in-counter-terror-oppressive-policies/.
 Journal of Sichuan Police College, October, 2014, by Guo Lin. See International Campaign for Tibet, December 5, 2016, “Rare admission of psychological impact on troops involved in counter-terror, oppressive policies”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/ict-inside-tibet-rare-admission-of-psychological-impact-on-troops-involved-in-counter-terror-oppressive-policies/.
 “China Tibet News”, October 5, 2016, “着力夯实基层基础 全力做好稳定工作 不断开创阿里改革发展稳定的新局面”, http://epaper.chinatibetnews.com/xzrb/html/2016-10/05/content_725568.htm. See International Campaign for Tibet, November 8, 2016, “Inside Tibet: News and analysis of emerging developments in Tibet”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/ict-inside-tibet-news-and-analysis-of-emerging-developments-in-tibet/.
 ‘Chen Quanguo: The Strongman Behind Beijing’s Securitization Strategy in Tibet and Xinjiang’, China Brief Volume: 17 Issue: 12, https://jamestown.org/program/chen-quanguo-the-strongman-behind-beijings-securitization-strategy-in-tibet-and-xinjiang/
 International Campaign for Tibet, February 16, 2016, “Tightening of an invisible net: new security measures in eastern Tibet heighten surveillance, control”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/tightening-of-an-invisible-net-new-security-measures-in-eastern-tibet-heighten-surveillance-control/.
 On February 14, 2013, Yu Zhengsheng, Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party Central Committee was cited by the state media as saying that the system should be put into effect throughout TAR to form “nets in the sky and traps on the ground.”
 International Campaign for Tibet, September 18, 2017, “Revised religious regulations threaten survival of Tibetan Buddhism,” https://www.https://savetibet.org/chinas-revised-religious-regulations-threaten-survival-of-tibetan-buddhism/.
 Reuters reported the founding of the Commission in a report published on January 22 (2017) following a brief Xinhua statement: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-defence/chinas-xi-to-head-new-commission-for-military-civilian-development-idUSKBN15706B. Reuters cited the following: “In 2015, Xu Qiliang, a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, said China needs security to be able to develop its economy. Xu said China needed to place greater focus on developing a military-industrial complex, much like the United States has done, to ensure a powerful armed forces commensurate with its place in the world.”
 Xinhua, September 22, 2017, “Xi stresses integrated military, civilian development”, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2017-09/22/content_32348453.htm Also see “China Tibet News”, September 23, 2017, “向军民融合发展重点领域聚焦用力 以点带面推动整体水平提升”,http://epaper.chinatibetnews.com/xzrb/html/2017-09/23/content_791291.htm, referring to the same meeting presided over by Xi Jinping on September 23 (2017).
 International Campaign for Tibet, May 15, 2017, “Use of lie detector to test Communist Party members indicates escalation of control in Tibet”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/ict-inside-tibet-use-of-lie-detector-to-test-communist-party-members-indicates-escalation-of-control-in-tibet/.
 International Campaign for Tibet, September 18, 2017, “China’s revised religious regulations threaten the survival of Tibetan Buddhism, https://www.https://savetibet.org/chinas-revised-religious-regulations-threaten-survival-of-tibetan-buddhism/.
 International Campaign for Tibet, April 20, 2017, ‘The four loves and the enemy within: new ideological campaign in Tibet reflects heightened agenda of control in 19th Party Congress year’, https://www.https://savetibet.org/ict-inside-tibet-the-four-loves-and-the-enemy-within-new-ideological-campaign-in-tibet-reflects-heightened-agenda-of-control-in-19th-party-congress-year/.
 See International Campaign for Tibet, August 28, 2014, “Chinese Party official promotes inter-racial marriages in Tibet to create ‘unity’”, https://www.https://savetibet.org/chinese-party-official-promotes-inter-racial-marriages-in-tibet-to-create-unity/.
 James Leibold, “Xinjiang Work Forum Marks New Policy of ‘Ethnic Mingling’”, June 19, 2014, Jamestown Foundation China Brief, https://jamestown.org/program/xinjiang-work-forum-marks-new-policy-of-ethnic-mingling/.
 “China Policy”, May 30, 2012, “Rethinking Ethnic Policy,” http://brief.policycn.com/rethinking-ethnic-policy/. See also: “Towards a Second Generation of Ethnic Policies,” July 6, 2012, Jamestown Foundation, www.jamestown.org/programs/chinabrief/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=39590&cHash=f6546cfc679f21c0f476fa77da69f849.
 In a blog about the conversion of urban areas into municipalities, Gabriel Lafitte writes: “China has long said that development is the answer to all Tibetan problems, and development invariably means urbanisation, more so than ever under Xi Jinping. Urbanisation could have benefited Tibetans if standard worldwide models of development, building on existing economic strengths, had been implemented. In Tibet, that would have meant ensuring Chinese markets for what rural Tibet does best, which is producing great surpluses of wool and dairy products. Although China’s urban new rich have taken to dairy consumption so totally that prices have shot up, and although Tibet Autonomous Region is connected to lowland China by rail, there has been almost no integration of the Tibetan pastoral economy (http://rukor.org/we-all-want-a-win-win-world/) into the Chinese economy. Tibetan wool, even semi-fine wool, is deemed coarse and unsuited to anything better than beating into felt. Tibetan dairy products lack market access, while China imports huge quantities of butter, yoghurt, infant formula and other dairy produce from New Zealand and elsewhere. Adding value to Tibetan (http://rukor.org/milking-tibet/) primary produce, in urban factories, never happened.” Posted December 7, 2014, http://rukor.org/making-the-mountains-muncipal/.
 ChinaFile, June 26, 2017, http://www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/viewpoint/why-are-so-many-tibetans-moving-chinese-cities. The article states that in the 2010 census, Beijing classified only 33.5 percent of the country’s 6.2 million Tibetans as urban residents.