Monday, January 28, 2013

The Great Wave of Han Tourists

Chinese New Year in Lhasa
When one looks at the situation in Tibet today, one can only worry.
Apart from the 99 immolations, mainly outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), the Chinese authorities on the Roof of the World are strengthening their grip on the land and people of Tibet.
They use different tactics for this.
First they speak of development, equating development to happiness.
For the purpose, they use Tibetan 'delegates'.
Take the small village of Metok, a few kilometers north of the Indian border (of Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh).
In an interview, Dorji Wangdark, the deputy head of Metok County who is a delegate to the Regional People's Congress presently held in Lhasa described his native village: "Metok County has a typical sub-tropical climate, which brings plenty of rainfall and spring-like days all year round, thus, it’s suitable for agriculture and animal husbandry. Metok abounds with rice, millet, bananas and many other grains and fruits, all of which, especially bananas, can be processed and pushed to market. Up to date, about 2,300 Mu (153.41 hectares) of banana plantations have been built in our county, yielding two crops a year. In the coming five years, we plan to enlarge the banana plantation into 10,000 Mu (about 667 hectares).”
Dorji Wangdark praised Beijing for having brought a road to his border village: "great chances have been brought to Metok since the highway linking Bomi County and Metok opened. But part of the highway, about five kilometers in high altitude, is easy to get snowed up in winter, so the traffic will be held up then."
Wangdark's proposal to the Congress was to improve the maintenance of Metok highway "to accelerate economic development of Metok County".
As often mentioned on this blog, these roads have also a strategic use for the People's Liberation Army.
That is one of the reasons why tourism in Tibet has become the key of the rapid development.
The website of the regional TAR government recently announced: "Tibet will strive to lift its number of incoming tourists to 20 million by 2015, nearly doubling the figure recorded last year."
Padma Choling, the only Tibetan in the Central Committee of the Party and TAR Chairman, gave the same figure while delivering the TAR government Work Report at the opening of the first session of the 10th Tibet regional People's Congress.
He declared: "Tourism has become one of the leading economic growth engines for the plateau autonomous region, which hosted 11 million tourists last year with revenue from the tourism sector topping 2.12 billion U.S. dollars."
Can you believe it? The sparsely populated Tibetan plateau receiving 11 millions of tourists and expecting to double the dose to flood the local Tibetan population.
It is not surprising, if there there is strong resentment against the Chinese Hans in Tibet. 
But tourism is business. Dawa Yu, the director of the Tibet Tourism Bureau told a Chinese publication: "Tibet's tourism industry is growing fast, with 70 class-A national scenic spots as well as 211 starred hotels by the end of 2012." adding that "herdsmen and farmers have benefited from the development of tourism. By the end of 2012, there were 48,120 farmers employed in tourism-related sectors, with averaged per-capita income of 6,118 yuan."
Whether these figures are true or false is irrelevant, the mere thought of having 20 millions of Chinese Han tourists in one year is frightening for a population of hardly 3 millions (in the TAR).
But the Chinese leaders have other tricks in their sleeves.
They are now banking on 'political advisors', in other words, Beijing-recognized Tibetan lamas to pass their message.
Xinhua said: "The seventh Reting Rinpoche Soinam Puncog said everyone, Buddhist or not, should treasure the lives of all living things, including their own lives."
The Chinese news agency explains: "The Reting Rinpoche occupies an important place in Tibetan history. The previous incarnations of Reting Rinpoche have taught Buddhist scripture to the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama and have taken key government positions, such as regent of Tibet."
Without going into the personality of the previous Reting Rinpoche who was at the center of a quasi-civil war in 1947 in Tibet, the present 'incarnation' is a pure production of the Chinese propaganda Department, without any formal recognition from the Dalai Lama or any other spiritual leaders.
They also used other puppets such Dinga Rinpoche Pasang Namgyal, a so-called 'political advisor' from Tohlung Dechen County who quoted the Buddha as saying "do all that is good".
The Chinese website explains that it means: "people should give, do good deeds and refrain from actions that are harmful to the human body".
Nothing wrong in this, if was not propaganda to control the local populations.
The new 'political leaders' are preaching for a halt to the self-immolations (which is good in itself).
One Gyatso Ling Rinpoche Thubten Drapa, also 'political advisor' said that "all lives are equal and that one should treasure life, the Buddha is also asking people to respect their own lives. Killing is one of the Ten Evils in Buddhist teachings and the Buddha Dharma has stressed that one should not hurt emotional beings."
A new 'Political Advisor', Reting Rinpoche

Batting for the Party which is extremely embarrassed by the current wave of self-immolation, Drapa declared: "Committing suicide is like murdering others, which falls under the high crime of killing. Those who kill will fall into the lower three domains in the Buddhist wheel of karma."
The involvement of monks in the Party's politics is not new. The case of the Chinese version of the Panchen Lama, visiting Tibet every year has regularly been reported in the press.
But a lot of new 'advisors' have recently appeared on the political scene apart from: "The seventh Reting Rinpoche Soinam Puncog, 16, is the youngest political advisor in Tibet after he became a member of the regional committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) this year."
Deqen Wangmo, chief of the religious affairs of Tibet's CPPCC committee clarifies: "The age should not be an obstacle for Soinam Puncog to become a political advisor, Living Buddhas like Reting Rinpoche enjoy a very high prestige among Tibetan people and they have always been role models for patriotism."
That is not sure at all, the Tibetans are not fooled so easily, especially when people like Yu Yaohua, an official with the CCP's Tibet Regional  Committee says: "The higher level of participation of religious figures in the CPPCC committee means the appeals of the religious circle could be more easily heard."
What worries and upset the common man is Tibet are the figures given by Xinhua: "Tibet has seen an increasing number of religious figures making their ways into the region's political advisory body. This year, they hold 115 seats in the political advisory body and took up 18.7 percent of the total 615 seats, rising 121 percent and 8.5 percentage points respectively."
Worrying indeed!
The Party who earlier said that 'Religion is Poison', now fully uses religion to rule.

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