Media Items 1

Image of happy Tibetans in Chinese state news
Image of happy Tibetans in Chinese state news

China's argument:

Since China peacefully liberated Tibet it has seen glorious development: there’s almost zero poverty, disease and hunger; life expectancy has doubled; literacy has risen from 5% to 85% and former slaves have been given land. There has also been huge investment in infrastructure, jobs, housing, schools and hospitals.

The facts:

China’s propaganda images, like this one, are designed to show how happy Tibetans are. This couldn't be further from the truth, with Tibetans left disadvantaged in their own country. For example:

  • Infrastructure projects enable the movement of China’s military, mass immigration of Chinese workers, Chinese tourism and access to Tibet’s rich resources. They enforce China’s control.
  • Economic growth benefits Chinese businesses and workers, and the booming tourism industry aims to legitimise the Chinese government’s occupation.
  • Millions of Tibetan nomads have been forced from their lands, ending their centuries-old way of life and leaving them dependent on the state as second class citizens in their own country.
  • Education is primarily taught in Chinese, disadvantaging Tibetans who can only learn their mother tongue as a second language.
  • The United Nations has repeatedly challenged China on human rights abuses in Tibet, including finding Tibet the worst area for child malnutrition in China.
  • Since March 2011, more than 150 people have set themselves on fire inside Tibet in protest against China's repression.
  • From shouting “Tibet needs freedom” in the street to attending a mass protest, Tibetans resist China’s policies daily. Despite 70 years of occupation this resistance to China remains undiminished and widespread.

Tibet has seen economic progress, as have most countries in the last seventy years, but Tibetans have benefited less than Chinese immigrants. Economic progress has not deterred them from rejecting Chinese rule and the evidence shows that Tibetans are far from “happy” under China’s control.