The endangered Tibetans?

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Editor’s note: Has China become a giant of proportions that should worry humanity? In a series of analyzes to be read until Monday, our columnist and expert political scientist on China, Loïc Tassé, tries to answer this question.

Tibetans have long benefited from the natural protection offered by their inhospitable territory. Very few Chinese settlers that Peking sent to settle there remained there.

But the situation started to change 20 years ago. It is because the Chinese government has built a railway line that connects Chengdu to Lhasa. It also opened five civilian airports in Tibet.

Mass tourism

Since then, Tibet has been invaded by mass tourism. To receive these tourists, it was necessary to build hotels. In the process, thousands of shops, restaurants and bars and brothels opened in Tibet.

These establishments need a workforce that speaks Mandarin and even several foreign languages. They hired hundreds of thousands of workers from all over China.

And of course, since these people have to be housed, new neighborhoods have sprung up like mushrooms in Tibetan cities.


Whatever the figures of the Chinese government or those of the Tibetan authorities in exile, it is obvious that Tibetans have become a minority in their cities.

The valleys, where the majority of the Tibetan population lives and which were previously isolated from each other, are now accessible thanks to a modern road network which is constantly expanding and bringing in new tourists.

The religious system, which was the backbone of Tibetan society, has been weakened to become folklore.

What is the use of annihilating it completely? After all, tourists must be able to bring back beautiful picturesque photos.

However, the most insidious destruction of Tibetan culture is through the attraction of China’s successes to Tibetans. Many are leaving Tibet to try their luck in the big cities of China.

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is now home to the third largest Tibetan population in China.

Tibet is becoming less and less Tibetan and more and more Chinese. And many Tibetans no longer seem to believe in their own culture.