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Tibet Autonomous Region sees environment and freedoms melting away

Lhasa (Agencies): Schoolchildren waved flags while troops marched in full battle dress as authorities staged a mass rally with fireworks on September 8 in Lhasa to mark 50 years since the incorporation of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China as the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965, reported

Organisers touted Tibet’s economic successes under Communist Party rule and played up the unity between indigenous Tibetans and ethnic Han settlers.

“During the past 50 years the Chinese Communist Party and the Tibetan people have led the transformation from a backward old Tibet to a vibrant socialist new Tibet,” said top political adviser. Yu Zhengsheng, in his address to a crowd gathered in front of the Potala Palace.

UCA News reported that anecdotal evidence suggests infrastructure projects in the world’s highest region have devastated the environment, as noted in Meltdown in Tibet, the book by journalist, Michael Buckley. 

However, few independent studies exist that distinguish between China’s impact and the effects of global pollution. 

One Chinese priest, who requested anonymity, told UCA News that development remains dominated by projects that destroy the environment which raises tensions with ethnic Tibetans who consider the landscape sacred. He noted that the negative impact was evident during repeated visits in recent decades.

“When I visited a Tibetan county above (the altitude of) 1,500 meters two years ago, it had changed so much. The snow on the mountain had melted and the water level had dropped,” the priest said. 

Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of Tibet’s government-in-exile based in Dharmasala, India, noted that Tibetans are still subject to occupation and brutal repression, and are closely monitored by the authorities.

“Such restrictions are unthinkable for a citizen of a free country like India but in Tibet, it is considered the norm,” he explained.  

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