China takes softly-softly approach in effort to boost Tibet's economy - Asia - World - The Independent

China takes softly-softly approach in effort to boost Tibet's economy

Hao Peng cuts an avuncular figure and is unusually frank for a party official in Tibet, where people rioted against Beijing rule two years ago. He is the new, approachable face that China wants to front its multibillion-yuan efforts to boost the isolated mountain enclave's economy and win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people.

"We are doing our best to improve the quality and calibre of local Tibetans and have also introduced special policies in terms of employment projects, subsidies and grants to help local people," Mr Hao, the deputy secretary of the Communist Party in Tibet and vice-chairman of the regional government, told reporters.

But many Tibetans resent the fact that Han Chinese from other provinces are benefiting the most from the region's development boom.

At the enormous, state-of-the-art railway station near Lhasa yesterday, Han Chinese could be seen alighting from the train, part of the daily influx coming to set up shop. Their businesses are more and more in evidence on the streets of Lhasa, once one of the most remote and mysterious places on earth and still a difficult place to get to.

Mr Hao said the central government was committed to addressing the yawning income gaps and opportunity inequalities between Tibetans and Han Chinese, but added: "It's not unusual that businessmen from other parts of China benefit from Tibet's development, as they help the local economy."

One of the ways he wants to improve the Tibetans' lot is by raising education levels. "When you come back in 10 years you will remark how the farmers' income level here approaches the national average," he said.

However, winning hearts and minds is about more than just building factories and model villages. China faces an uphill struggle to win the affections of residents who support the Dalai Lama.

Mr Hao put the blame for any unrest in the region firmly at the feet of the "Dalai Clique", devotees of the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism who fled Lhasa in 1959, eight years after it was formally annexed by the People's Republic of China.

China says Tibet is, was and always will be Tibetan, but the Tibetan government-in-exile in the north Indian town of Dharamsala says it represents the Tibetan people and wants more autonomy. The Dalai Lama, Mr Hao said, needed to accept that Tibet was an "inalienable" part of China.

In March 2008, monks marched from the Jokang Temple, Tibetan Buddhism's most holy site at the heart of Lhasa, and called for greater freedom. Tensions flared into widespread violence in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas in China and 19 people were killed. Tibetan independence groups say scores died in a subsequent crackdown, a claim denied by the Chinese.

Today, soldiers armed with machine guns stand guard on Lhasa's ancient streets. "After 14 March we have taken many efforts to maintain stability. Unity is a blessing while instability is a curse. The People's Armed Police on the street are necessary to enforce stability," Mr Hao said. "We have the ability and confidence to... ultimately achieve long-term order and stability."

The reason ordinary Tibetans were not allowed to display pictures of the Dalai Lama, whom they worship as a god-king, is that he is "not just a religious figure, he is also a mastermind of separatist activities".

"No sovereign country in the world would allow the hanging of a portrait of a person like that... the Dalai Lama colluded with anti-China forces abroad to make trouble in Tibet," Mr Hao said. "What you see in the streets, including the police and other legal forces, are necessary measures to maintain stability... the local, ordinary people love the country, they love the Communist Party of China."

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week