Ah, the old accoutrements of modern civilization bait n’ switch! How shrewd. Reuters is reporting that the Chinese government is going to make it rain something fierce on the Tibet Autonomous Region, to the tune of 300 billion RMB ($47 billion USD) over the next four years. The figure more than doubles the 138 billion RMB spent on Tibet from 2006 to 2010.
90.5 billion RMB will go towards infrastructure projects alone, including railways, highways and hydroelectric power stations, because, you know, those are so helpful and everything.
Amongst the development schemes are projects like highways that will connect the region to China’s inter-province highways, and a railway extension that will link Tibet’s second-largest city of Shigatse to the capital of Lhasa.
Other areas where money will flow include the development of tourism, mining, agriculture, housing and environmental protection.
The latest directives follow a pattern of economic and social modernization that’s already been taking place for years, which might be reductively described as throwing money at the problem of unruly Tibetans. Perhaps the theory goes that Tibetans will harmoniously fall in line if their standard of living is improved year-on-year, which worked like a charm for most of the rest of China.
And of course the same thing has occurred in Xinjiang as well, with recent reports stating that the government is investing money in the development of local traditional medicine. Oh, and there’s something about nearly a trillion RMB worth of investment for the next four years taking place in Xinjiang? Splendid.
We honestly don’t know how the schism between the materialist-minded Chinese government and the more spiritual citizens of Tibet and Xinjiang will ever be reconciled. Being Muslim or Buddhist means one ultimately heeds to an authority higher than any government–and if there’s anything the CCP hates, it’s competition.