By Tendar Tsering
DHARAMSHALA, September 15: China on Tuesday announced plans to spend 300 billion yuan (46.89 billion U.S. dollars) on 226 key projects ranging from railway and dam building to mining and promoting tourism in Tibet within the next five years.
The 226 projects are "aimed at achieving rapid development in Tibet", the official Xinhua news agency quoted deputy governor Hao Peng as saying at an internal meeting on Tuesday.
Key transport schemes include an extension of the Gormo-Lhasa railway line to Shigatse prefecture which borders India, Nepal and Bhutan in the south and highways to the rest of China, the report added.
However, Tibetans and China experts remain sceptical of the motive and success of China’s development plans in Tibet.
Tibetans have long argued that all of China’s grand projects in Tibet are planned and implemented without consultation, consent and knowledge of the local Tibetans.
Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, the former head of the exile Tibetan administration had earlier rejected China’s multi-billion development plans saying that they failed to meet the real needs of the Tibetan people and instead harmed the interest of the Tibetan people.
"Though these known projects may be well intentioned, but the cumulative impact of these projects do not meet the real needs of the Tibetan people," the then Kalon Tripa had said.
"Ever since the new railway line to Lhasa became operational in July 2006, it has facilitated Chinese population transfer to the plateau, contributing to the deterioration of Tibet's environment and provided easier means of exploitation of Tibet's enormous natural resources," Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche had said.
Talking to Phayul, the director of Chennai Centre for China Studies, D. S. Rajan said that the “declaration of five year project plan is good, but success of new initiative remains to be tested.”
"More important for Beijing would be to win the hearts of Tibetans through meeting their religious aspirations. This is not going to happen, as long as Beijing distrusts the Dalai Lama, whom all Tibetans hold in high esteem," Rajan told Phayul.