Tibet’s riots an economic issue, too

Scott Tong Mar 17, 2008


Doug Krizner: China’s government blocked access to YouTube over the weekend. The site had posted videos of protests in Tibet. But these demonstrations are spreading to parts of China where ethnic Tibetans live. Political freedom is the headline cause, but as Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports, there’s also an undercurrent of economic disenchantment.

Scott Tong: The Young Tibetan rioters targeted mostly Chinese-owned shops in the capital, Llasa. In fact, only a few stores are reportedly still standing.

Many ethnic Tibetans grouse that the Chinese have taken all their jobs. It’s a bread and butter issue that has stoked anti-Chinese sentiment elsewhere, in places like Indonesia.

In the last two decades, ethnic Chinese have streamed into Tibet, with the government’s blessing. It’s part of Beijing’s larger effort to assimilate the potentially breakaway province. That campaign also includes massive investment in Tibet’s infrastructure and tourism industries.

Last year, Tibet’s economy grew a whopping 14 percent, leaving the rest of the country behind at a mere 11. Still, the locals feel they haven’t shared in the boom.

In Beijing, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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