New train to Tibet

Jocelyn Ford Jun 30, 2006

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Tomorrow China launches the world’s highest altitude train. It’s bound for Tibet. The government says the railway project will help the local economy by bringing in lots of tourists. But Jocelyn Ford tells us many Tibetans worry they benefit financially.

JOCELYN FORD: Many Tibetans worry that most of the tourist money and jobs will go to ethnic Chinese. They have better connections because they run the government, and Chinese businesses usually hire other Chinese.

They’ve even shouldered in on making Tibetan souvenirs. Chris Buckley owns one of Tibet’s few carpet factories.

CHRIS BUCKLEY:“Of all the carpets that are made in a Tibetan style today less than five percent are made by native Tibetan weavers.”

And most of the brass Buddhas are cast elsewhere in China.

Part of the problem is many of Tibet’s business leaders fled in the 1950s and 60s when the Chinese Army moved in and took control.

Buckley says recently some of the exiled business people have come back, but most larger businesses are controlled by Chinese.

In Beijing, I’m Jocelyn Ford for Marketplace.

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