[Buddha-l] U.S. ambassador to China on rare Tibet visit
vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Thu Jun 27 17:47:29 MDT 2013
>From the L.A. Times.
U.S. ambassador to China on rare Tibet visit
By Barbara Demick
June 27, 2013, 12:34 p.m.
XINING, China -- The U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke, paid a rare visit
to Tibet this week as human rights advocates blasted the Chinese government's
policy of luring Tibetan nomads into concrete housing projects with little
In meetings with residents and officials, Locke stressed the need to
preserve Tibetan culture and urged authorities to allow foreigners to travel
more freely in the tightly controlled region, according to the Associated
The Tibetan Autonomous Region, as it is known, has been mostly closed to
western diplomats and journalists since an uprising in 2008 against Chinese
rule. Locke's three-day visit to Lhasa, which concludes Friday, is the first
time the U.S. Embassy has gotten approval for a visit since 2010, the
Nearly 120 Tibetans have immolated themselves since 2009 in protests against
A report released by Human Rights Watch said more than 2 million others had
been lured into "new socialist villages" since 2006 in one of the largest
upheavals of the population since the 1950s.
"The scale and speed at which the Tibetan rural population is being
remodeled by mass rehousing and relocation policies are unprecedented in the
post-Mao era,'' said Sophie Richardson, China Director of the New York-based
human rights group, in a statement Thursday.
According to the report, many Tibetans have been duped into giving up the
herds of yak and sheep that traditionally provided their livelihood and
settling in cheaply constructed housing projects. Although the housing is
subsidized, the report found that the Tibetans bore 70% of the costs of the
new homes, often signing loan documents they did not understand because of
Meanwhile, the report stated that "they are unable to compete in markets in
which native Chinese-speaking laborers and entrepreneurs have a distinct
"It may be true that some Tibetans have benefited," Richardson said. "The
majority have simply been forced to trade poor but stable livelihoods for
the uncertainties of a cash economy in which they are often the weakest
The housing projects are being constructed not only in the Tibetan
Autonomous Region, but also in Qinghai and Sichuan provinces, which are home
to large Tibetan populations.
South of the Qinghai provincial capital of Xining, the new villages look
like vast gulags made up of identical, tightly packed blocks of concrete and
brick. Although the Chinese government claims they are more hygienic and
modern, many of the villages lack adequate toilets and do not have a
reliable electricity supply.
Human Rights Watch said in its report that it had not found evidence that
Tibetans were forced into the projects, but that they were easily
intimidated into relocating.
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