Population transfer threat

The Chinese Government’s policy of transferring Chinese settlers into Tibet represents an immediate threat to the existence of the Tibetan people.

In contravention of humanitarian law which stipulates that “an occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” (article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, 1949), there are today an estimated 7.5 million non-Tibetans in Tibet. The 6 million Tibetans are being increasingly marginalised in spheres of cultural, economic and political life. China makes no secret of its policy of transferring a large number of Chinese “experts” and cadres into Tibet, offering substantial salary, housing and holiday incentives to Chinese settlers. The growing discrimination faced by Tibetans in areas of employment, housing, education, and health as a result of the Chinese influx now faces a new boost.

In 1992 China approved plans to dam the Yangtze River and create the world’s biggest hydro-electric power project. According to Mr. Qi Lin, head of the resettlement for the project, in an announcement on 5 March 1997, the project will require the displacement of approximately 1.2 million people to make way for the reservoir, of which some 60,000 have already been moved. Mr. Lin added that authorities in the two provinces affected – Sichuan and Hubei – were encouraging people to move to under-populated regions, which are generally impoverished areas such as Xinjiang, Tibet and Gansu.

The entire project is due to be fully completed by 2009, and the problems of forced migration and ecological changes have been effectively swept aside by the promise of vast economic returns. “The advantages of building this dam far outweigh the disadvantages”, said Mr. Lu Youmei, managing director of the Three Gorges Project Development Corp.

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