“Money can’t buy you love” A Report by US Senate Delegation to Tibet

DHARAMSHALA: Despite the Chinese government's massive economic investments in Tibet, “influx of Chinese population, growing income inequalities and restrictions on religious practices are fueling discontent and unhappiness among the Tibetans,” a US Senate delegation which visited Tibet in September last year said in its report issued yesterday.  (Read full report)
 
Four staff members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accompanied by officials from the US Embassy in Beijing, traveled to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan regions outside TAR. 
 
Typical for official visitors to the Tibet Autonomous Region, the delegation’s itinerary was “carefully scripted” by the Chinese authorities. As an example, they described the “Potemkin-like quality” of a “model village” designed to show the modernity of Tibetan dwellings. However, the members did set aside time for themselves to wander unescorted to talk to local residents. 

The delegation during their visit assessed changes in economic development, infrastructure, Chinese migration, monastery restoration, environmental protection, and other factors of interests. 
 
The delegation observed “Tibetans still lag behind ethnic Han Chinese in educational achievement and opportunity.” 
 
“The growth boom in Tibet has attracted many Han Chinese migrants and businesses, so that today Lhasa no longer has the feel of a Tibetan city, but rather that of a Chinese city with a Tibetan quarter. It appears that a large percentage of the jobs created by the boom are going to Han Chinese rather than native Tibetans,” it said. 
 
China's policy to modernise Tibet brings stresses to the ancient Tibetan culture, environmental damages, social ills, from drugs to prostitution, it said. 
 
The delegation underlined the need to involve and empower more Tibetans in the deciding-making based on the conclusion that “Tibetans live under a political system that too often affords them little real power over their own affairs”. 
 
The delegation also said Washington keep urging the China for reconciliation with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans in exile through mutually respectful dialogue. “Reconciliation would not only help resolve a long-standing political and humanitarian crisis, but also allow the expertise, resources, and energy and Tibetans in exile to assist in the economic development of Tibet and the protection of its fragile environment and unique culture.” 
 
“There are steps that the United States can take that might not only bring direct benefits to the Tibetan people, but also begin to build a foundation of trust between Washington and Beijing on Tibetan affairs,” it noted. 
 
It recommended the US work with China for sustainable economic development, environmental protection, and cultural preservation. “Possible areas include lessons learned by the United States in dealing with discrimination and prejudice, bilingual education, environmentally sound mining practices, collection of data on glacier melt and river management, historically accurate restoration of cultural relics, collaborative research on Tibetan Buddhist teachings, etc.” 
 
It called for the establishment of a US consulate in Lhasa. 
 
One delegation member paraphrased a famous Beatles song to characterize the result of Chinese policies in Tibet as “Money can’t buy you love.”  

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