Han Chinese now hold most government posts in Tibet as Beijing extends control

Tibet's status as an 'autonomous region' of China has no meaning for Beijing, a Lhasa resident says.
By Lobsang Gelek
Han Chinese now hold most government posts in Tibet as Beijing extends control Chinese flags fly over the Potala Palace in Tibet's capital Lhasa in a June 1, 2021 photo.

Han Chinese now outnumber Tibetans in top government posts in Tibet by more than 2-to-1, an indication, Tibetan sources say, of China’s push to dominate the region.

Following Beijing’s installation of Wang Junzheng as Tibet’s party secretary on Oct. 19, only four out of fifteen chief and vice-chief administrative positions in the capital Lhasa are now held by Tibetans, according to Chinese government figures.

This lack of representation in government shows that Tibet’s status as an Autonomous Region of China has no meaning for Beijing, a Tibetan living in Lhasa told RFA.

“They are starting to use Chinese now as the official language in all the administration offices in Lhasa, and 70% of the individuals holding higher positions there don’t know how to read or write in Tibetan,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Even more concerning is the fact that 60% of Lhasa’s population are now Chinese,” he added.

Tibetans were better represented in leadership positions in Tibetan areas in the 1970s and early 1980s, said Dawa Tsering, director of the Dharamsala, India-based Tibet Policy Institute.

“Except at the most senior levels, Tibetans held many different official positions, with about 70% of these jobs taken by Tibetans and 30% taken by Chinese,” he said. “But China’s policies in connection with this have changed drastically in recent years.”

“The Chinese government is replacing Tibetans with Chinese in an attempt to create an environment where they only use and speak the Chinese language in these offices. And all these policies enable the Chinese government to pursue its political agenda of destroying Tibetan identity,” he said.

In an Oct. 20 statement, Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet called for strong international pressure against newly appointed Tibet party boss Wang Junzheng, who has already been sanctioned by the European Union, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom for human rights abuses in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region.

China has never appointed a Tibetan to the top post that Wang now holds, the advocacy group said.

“This reflects the reality that despite over 60 years of occupation, the Chinese Communist Party has not been able to win over the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people,” the group said in the statement.

Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment and extrajudicial killings.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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