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The Situation in Tibet

14 October 2019

Current Situation in Tibet


On 14 October, the EU-Asia Centre welcomed a delegation of parliamentarians from Tibet for a roundtable discussion.


Ni Ma Ci Ren(Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Xizang Autonomous Region) presented the latest developments political and economic in Tibet, highlighting the provision of basic services to all people and the new protections for Tibet’s pristine natural environment. 


In response to a question by Fraser Cameron(Director EU Asia Centre) about the most pressing challenges facing the regional government, Ni Ma Ci Ren said that preserving the environment was a major challenge given the constraints of high altitudes, difficult terrain as well as the effects of the global challenge of climate change. The infrastructure development to connect all Tibetans to electric grid, transport infrastructure and services is still an overriding priority. As a border region, Tibet also has potential to connect internationally to India and Nepal for further economic development. The idea of Kashmir connection has been floated, but no concrete plans are being made. 


Exploitation of natural resources, such as mining, require environmental impact assessments and must be done in agreement with the local authority. Tibet is employing sixty thousand locals as part-time guardians of environment. On societal developments, it was highlighted that years of free compulsory basic education have been increased from 6 to 15. The language of education on lower levels is Tibetan and later a mix of Tibetan and Chinese per student choice. Higher education in universities is done predominantly in Chinese. A local representative from Tama Commune in Lhasa explained the electoral process for local decisions makers, in which villages vote for a candidate lists. 


The participants agreed that hearing the Tibetan perspective was important to have full understanding of the region. To this end, increasing direct access for foreign journalists was discussed as a way to provide more factual information about Tibet to the world. It would also be useful to promote more exchanges between students and teachers with European countries which often had a one sided view of the situation in Tibet.