Ethnic Tibetans comprise 92% population in TAR: Book

"In 2003, they (Chinese) estimated that there were around 2.61 million people in the region (TAR). These included 2.41 million ethnic Tibetans (92.2 per cent of the total)," says a book 'Tibet Fifty Years After' authored by Parvez Dewan and Siddharth Srivastava.

The authors, who toured Tibet in the aftermath of the March 2008 failed uprising against Chinese rule, found that the Han Chinese comprised only 5.9 per cent of the total population while 1.9 per cent people were of other ethnicity.

"These are Chinese government figures. Statistics cannot be fudged," Dewan contended. According to the authors, Tibetan exiles claim that there are about 7.5 million Chinese settlers in TAR, a figure which is a "gross exaggeration."

Dewan and Srivastava found that a lot of the Han Chinese in Lhasa and TAR were not counted in the census because they are not permanent settlers and are accounted for in their home provinces.

The authors were struck by the development of cities in TAR, particularly Lhasa which had eight-lane roads and amenities comparable to Beijing. However, they found restrictions on Internet usage, particularly on use of social networking websites and email services.

"The Internet at Tibet Hotel in Lhasa was quite good. I was able to read the online editions of Indian newspapers everyday. However, I could neither send nor receive emails from either Lhasa or Xian (which is in mainland China)," Dewan wrote.

In 2003, 74 per cent of Tibet's GDP comprised subsidies by the provincial and central governments, the authors said pointing out that much of the amount was spent on building the 1,142 km long Qinghai-Lhasa railway.

Dewan said that Tibet had always rushed to China or Mongolia for help when under attack from tribal leaders in the 18th and 19th century. Initially, China's role in Tibet was extremely benign but later their expectations began to increase, he claimed.

Dewan and Srivastava found that there were discrepancies in the estimated number of monasteries in Tibet before and after the 1959 "democratic reform." While several Tibetan exile sources pegged their number at 6259, in May 1962 the 10th Panchen Lama had said that there were an estimated 2,500 monasteries in Tibet. But by 1976 there were only eight monasteries in Tibet, the book said.

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