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China resettlement plan starts debate over Tibetan culture

New York Times
October 6, 1999

For a number of years, the People’s Republic of China has been accused of following a policy designed to change the culture of Tibet by overwhelming the indigenous population with massive numbers of ethnic Chinese settlers. * Recently, the World Bank proposed lending China $40 million to resettle 58,000 people from an overcrowded, eroded area in the northeastern corner of Quinghai Province to a sparsely populated region in the province, 300 miles to the west, that is part of the Tibetan Plateau. * Forty percent of the proposed settlers would be ethnic Chinese, while the rest are ethnically diverse and include some Tibetans. * The area was historically settled by Tibetan and Mongolian people, but today, a majority of its five million residents are ethnic Chinese. * In the large county that includes the settlement area, the proportion of Tibetans would decline from 23 percent to 14 percent. Opponents of the project in Europe and the United States claim the project would aid two nearby prison camps and that a small dam and irrigation project that would be built would damage the environment. They say the World Bank violated its own assessment procedures in approving the project, but bank officials defend it.

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