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Outtake from "When the Dragon Followed the Sun," a new documentary about the Tibet struggle, directed by Dirk Simon.
China is incurring huge expenditure in transferring and consolidating the Chinese population in Tibet. Massive investment has been made to build a network of modern highways all over Tibet. China can also boast of having laid the highest railway track in the world that connects Lhasa with Beijing. In fact, China often complains that its "civilizing" mission in Tibet is costing the government and people of China large amounts in terms of subsidies to an under-developed region. According to official Chinese statistics, the level of annual subsidies to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in the late 1980s was around 1 billion yuan or $270 million. However, all the infrastructure that China has built in Tibet has not made the lives of the native Tibetans any better; it has only taken the exploitative apparatuses of the Chinese government deeper. Link: http://woodsmoke.wordpress.com/2008/08/22/how-china-is-plundering-the-natural-resources-of-tibet/
China's Ministry of Land and Resources has announced monumental new resource discoveries all across Tibet. The findings are the culmination of a secret 7-year, $44 million survey project, which began in 1999. More than 1,000 researchers were divided into 24 separate groups and fanned out across the Qinghai-Tibet plateau to geologically map the entire Tibetan region. Their findings have lead to a discovery of 16 major new deposits of copper, iron, lead, zinc and other minerals worth an estimated $128 billion. These discoveries add to Tibet's proven deposits of 126 minerals, with a significant share of the world's reserves in lithium, chromite, copper, borax, and iron.
Tibet is now said to hold as much as 40 million tons of copper — one third of China's total, 40 million tons of lead and zinc, and more than a billion tons of high-grade iron. Among the Tibet discoveries is China's first substantial rich-iron supply. A seam called Nyixung, is alone expected to contain as much as 500 million tons. That's enough to reduce Chinese iron import by 20 per cent. The new copper reserves are no less substantial. A 250-mile seam of the metal has been found along Tibet's environmentally sensitive Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge. One mine there, called Yulong, already described as the second-largest reserve in China, is now estimated to hold as much as 18 million tons, according to the government news site Xinhua and could soon become the largest copper mine in the country.
The riches that China expects to extract from Tibet in the near future, perhaps better explains the money that China annually spends on Tibet than the empty claims of modernizing Tibet. In fact, an official web site of China has itself disclosed that "Once-quiet, northern Tibet has become a scene of bustle and excitement since a number of inland enterprise marched into the region in response to the government call for speeding up the development of western China. Northern Tibet has more than 200 mining areas with 28 kinds of mineral ores, and is rich in oil and hot springs."
Deforestation is a major source of employment in Tibet: in the Kongpo area of the TAR alone, over 20,000 Chinese soldiers and Tibetan prisoners are involved in tree felling and transportation of timber. In 1949, Ngapa, in Amdo, had 2.20 million hectares of land under forest cover. Its timber reserve then stood at 340 million cubic mt. In the 1980s, it was reduced to 1.17 million hectares, with a timber reserve of only 180 million cubic mt. Similarly, during 30 years, till 1985 China exploited 6.44 million cubic mt of timber from Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. As new roads increasingly penetrate remote areas of Tibet, China is finding new excuses to increase the rate of deforestation in the region.
China's primary objective of constructing roads in Tibet is to deploy occupying forces like the People's Liberation Army, along with defence materials, and immigration of Chinese, as well as to exploit the natural resources of Tibet, which are transported primarily to China. Roads may run through most Tibetan villages, but a public transport system is almost non-existent in the majority of rural Tibet. The Chinese modern means of transport do not benefit the majority of Tibetans. Tibetans in most places continue to use horses, mules, yaks, donkeys and sheep as modes of transportation. Thus, the Chinese claim of investing heavily in "civilizing" the Tibetans is one of the most shameless lies that one can perpetuate.
China is exploiting far more from Tibet than what it is giving back. While China is proudly hosting the Olympics with its spectacular stadia and dazzling shows, the future of Tibet is turning gloomier.