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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

China's Economic Policy Reinforces Poverty in Tibet

August 29, 2002

New report released for UN World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg & Montreal, August 28, 2002: China's economic policies are reinforcing poverty, inequality and underdevelopment in Tibet, reveals a 50-page report released today by the Canada Tibet Committee (CTC). Poverty by Design: The Economics of Discrimination in Tibet, uses China's own statistics to challenge claims that the occupation of Tibet is motivated by economic and social development for the Tibetan people. Instead, the report exposes systemic economic discrimination, imposed through central policies that violate fundamental human rights principles.

Poverty by Design: The Economics of Discrimination in Tibet is written by development economist Andrew Fischer. Its release is scheduled to coincide with the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) which began this week in Johannesburg. The report will be launched today at the WSSD during a reception hosted by the Tibet delegation.

"It is time for western governments and international development agencies to face the fact that China's presence in Tibet is not benevolent", said Thubten Samdup, President of the Canada Tibet Committee. "When they participate in China's development strategies for Tibet, they risk contributing to discrimination and endemic poverty in Tibetan communities".

Poverty by Design: The Economics of Discrimination in Tibet reveals that economic growth during the 1990's has by-passed most Tibetans:

* Tibet's economy is characterized by a state-controlled industrial and service sector that is excessively concentrated in urban areas, unrelated to productive activities, and superimposed on the Tibetan, non-industrial agrarian economy; * In rural areas where most Tibetans live, the economy has stagnated, diversification has been ignored, and incomes have dropped during the past decade; * There is a severe under-supply of social services in Tibet and education spending is neglected relative to national shares - 46% of all Chinese have received a post-primary education compared to only 8.6% of Tibetans; * Chinese settlers are lured to Tibet by subsidized salaries approximately 46.9% higher than elsewhere in China, and by school fee waivers not available to the local Tibetan population; * Tibet's rural economy is excessively dependent on a few commodities such as barley, rapeseed, wheat and wool, and is particularly vulnerable to falling prices resulting from WTO accession.

Poverty by Design: The Economics of Discrimination in Tibet concludes with a series of recommendations to western governments and international development agencies.

* Focus on an intensive rather than an extensive model of regional development; * Include strategies that cultivate skills within the existing indigenous population; * Develop non-farm rural industries; * Establish local linkages between farm and non-farm activities; * Prioritize the rapid extension of low-cost, low-tech infrastructure and services.

* * * *

To order Poverty by Design: The Economics of Discrimination in Tibet, visit, or send an email request to, or telephone 514-487-0665.

To download a PDF version of the full report or for a French language summary, visit

The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent, non-profit organization registered under federal guidelines. The CTC has branch offices across Canada.

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