Lhasa invaded again Han Chinese
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Issue Courtesy: | Date : 11 Jun , 2021

According to China Tibet News Network, the permanent population of Lhasa is 867,891, an increase of 55.14% compared to the Sixth National Census.

It is an enormous increase, particularly because it only takes into account the ‘permanent’ settlers in the Tibetan capital.

The number of ‘migrants’ or ‘temporary settlers’ which can easily be manipulated, should be added to these figures. It is a real invasion of the Tibetan capital.

On June 8, 2021, a communiqué released by the Office of the Leading Group for the Seventh National Census of Lhasa, announced the new figures were “in accordance with the Regulations on the National Census and the decision of the State Council.”

It was the seventh census and it was carried out on November 1, 2020.

China Tibet News says that “the national census is in accordance with the unified deployment of the State Council and the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Seventh National Census Leading Group.”

According to the same source, the staff who conducted the census was supported by “Lhasa City’s governments at all levels, census agencies and all census personnel.”

The communiqué adds: “With the hard work and selfless dedication, the majority of census subjects participated and actively cooperated, and successfully completed the tasks of the Seventh National Census in Lhasa.”

Let us remember that the data for the ‘permanent’ and ‘temporary’ populations are compulsorily contained in each individual’s phone.

Even if it has probably been ‘polished’, the outcome is shocking.

  1. Permanent Population

Today, the ‘permanent’ resident population of Lhasa is 867,891.

Compared with the 559,423 in the Sixth National Census in 2010, it is an increase of 308,468 or 55.14%; it means an average annual growth rate of 4.49% says the communique (arithmetically, 55% divided by ten (years) does not make 4,5%).

It must be a first time that an urban area witnesses a 55% population increase in 10 years. It is only possible, if formerly ‘migrants’ workers have been incorporated in these figures.

This raises many questions, in particular for the environment.

How much  increment of population can the Land of Snows take without choking? The natural resources are limited and the fragile ecology of the plateau has certainly limits.

Beijing has probably never taken this into account. 

The Chinese Government objective seems only to flood the local population with Han Chinese.

  1. Family population

There were 292,976 households in the Seventh Census, for a population of 683,405 people. The average population of each household was 2.33 people, which was a decrease of 0.86 people from the 3.19 people in the Sixth National Census in 2010.

Only an expert in statistics could analyse this, but too me, it seems to indicate that many more single persons have settled in Lhasa during the last 10 years; It shows that tens of thousands more migrants have come to the Tibetan capital.

  1. Gender composition

Among the city’s permanent population, the male population is 470,353, accounting for 54.19%; the female population is 397,538, accounting for 45.81%. 

The sex ratio of the total population (100 women, the ratio of men to women) rose from 105.68 in the Sixth National Census in 2010 to 118.32.

The gender composition also seems to indicate the massive arrival of migrant male workers.

Many of them have now be given the status of ‘permanent’ resident of the Tibetan capital and others married Tibetan girls.

  1. Age composition

Among the city’s permanent population,

    • the population aged 0-14 is 143,069, accounting for 16.48%;
    • the population aged 15-59 is 651,141, accounting for 75.03%;
    • the population aged 60 and above is 73,681, accounting for 8.49%;
    • the population aged 65 and above is 48,170 people, accounting for 5.55%.

Compared with the Sixth National Census in 2010,

    • the proportion of people aged 0-14 dropped by 1.05 percentage points,
    • the proportion of people aged 15-59 dropped by 0.24%,
    • the proportion of people aged 60 and over rose by 1.29%.
    • The proportion of the population of and above increased by 0.85 percentage points.

Age-wise, if the statistics are correct, it seems a rather stable population.

These statistics should be read with Xi Jinping mega project for poverty alleviation.

On October 17, 2020, according to Xinhua: “Tibet Autonomous Region has accomplished the historical feat of eradicating absolute poverty. …By the end of 2019, Tibet had lifted 628,000 people out of poverty and delisted 74 county-level areas from the poverty list.”

Wu Yingjie, the boss of the Communist Party of China in Tibet called this achievement a “major victory.” 

He said that the average annual net income of poor people in Tibet had risen from 1,499 yuan (about 220.44 U.S. dollars) in 2015 to 9,328 yuan in 2019.

Wu also mentioned that since 2016, a total of 39.89 billion yuan has been invested in over 2,900 poverty alleviation projects, which helped lift more than 238,000 impoverished people out of poverty and benefited more than 840,000 people.

For this, 965 ‘relocation’ villages (known as Xiaogang villages) were built and 266,000 people were moved to new houses. “The relocation programs were carried out entirely on a voluntary basis,” Wu said.

This means that if these villages have to be inhabited, from where the populations have come, especially when the population of the Tibetan capital has already increased so drastically during the same period.

The answer is probably from China.

Though we do not have the figures for the other Cities/Prefectures and the Xiaogang villages, the same pattern in population increase than in Lhasa, must have taken place, if not worse. 

It means more Hans are daily arriving in Tibet to settle.

  1. Ethnic composition

Among Lhasa City’s permanent population, the Tibetan population is 608,856, the population of other ethnic minorities is 25,953, and the Han population is 233,082.

Compared with the Sixth National Census in 2010, the Tibetan population increased by 179,752, the population of other ethnic minorities increased by 16,699, and the Han population increased by 112,017.

In their own admission, the ‘permanent’ migrant population has increased nearly as much as the Tibetans.

    • Tibetan increase = 179,75
    • Other minorities increase =  16,699
    • Han increase =  112,017

What about the ethnic composition in the border villages?

  1. Population with education level

Among the City’s permanent population,

    • 147,800 people have a university education (referring to a junior college or above);
    • 107,840 people have a high school (including technical secondary school) education;
    • 174,689 people have a junior high school education; and those with elementary school education.

The population is 256,544 (the above-mentioned population with various educational levels includes graduates, undergraduates and students from various schools).

Compared with the Sixth National Census in 2010, the number of persons with college education per 100,000 people rose from 12,319 to 17,030; those with high school education rose from 8,817 to 12,426; those with junior high school education rose from 19,654

The number of people rose to 20,128; the number of people with primary school education dropped from 34,105 to 29,559.

There is no doubt that the level of education has improved.

  1. Urban and rural population

Among the city’s permanent population,

    • the population living in urban areas is 605,511, accounting for 69.77%;
    • the population living in rural areas is 262,380, accounting for 30.23%.

Compared with the sixth national census in 2010, the urban population increased by 364,553, the rural population decreased by 56,085, and the proportion of the urban population increased by 26.70 percentage points.

These figures are for Lhasa City (ex-Prefecture) only.

Let us hope that we can soon access the figures for the other Cities/Prefectures.

  1. Regional population

The last part of the report mentions the ‘region distribution’ of Lhasa’s ‘permanent’ population.

The fact that the report speaks of ‘permanent’ population shows that a large percentage of the migrant population is not accounted. This is even more worrisome.

The following figures show that the permanent population of Lhasa is 867,891, of which:

    • the permanent population of Chenggoin (Chengguan) District is 473,586, accounting for 54.57%;
    • the permanent population of Tolung Dechen (Duilung Deqing) District is 91065, accounting for 10.49%;
    • the permanent population of Tagtse (Dazi) District is 32,318, accounting for 3.72%. The permanent population of Lhundrup (Linzhou) County is 50,596, accounting for 5.83%;
    • the permanent population of Damshung County is 47,900, accounting for 5.52%;
    • the permanent population of Nimo County is 29,989, accounting for 3.46%;
    • the permanent population of Chushul County is 41,851, accounting for 4.82%;
    • the permanent population of Medro Gonkar (Mozhugongka) County is 49,511, accounting for 5.70%;
    • the permanent population of Lhasa National Economic and Technological Development Zone is 11,804, accounting for 1.36%;
    • the permanent population of Lhasa Liuwu High-tech Zone is 34,582, accounting for 3.98%;
    • the permanent population of Tibet Cultural Tourism Creative Park is 4,689, accounting for 0.54%.

The Tibetan Autonomous Region’s Figures

Last month The China Daily had announced that the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) continued “to enjoy a demographic dividend as young adults make up a relatively high proportion of its population, providing abundant labor resources.”

It is probably due to migrant workers.

The article said that despite a steadily growing aging trend nationwide, less than 9 percent of Tibet’s population is aged above 60: “The number of Tibet residents aged 60 or older on November 1, 2021 was 311,000, accounting for just 8.52 percent of the region’s population and up by 0.85 percentage points from a decade previously. …Across the country, the average proportion of the population aged 60 or older was 18.7 percent.” 

According to census, the TAR’s ‘permanent’ resident population on November 2020, was 3.64 million, an increase of 645,900 or 21.52 percent over a decade previously. 

Between 2000 and 2010, the region’s population increased by 385,800, or by an average of 1.39 percent a year.

Therefore, there is an acceleration of the migration in Tibet in general.

Vast Sea of Chinese Migrants

Remember in 1985, the Dalai Lama wrote in The New York Times that A Vast Sea Of Chinese Threatens Tibet.

The Tibetan leader then observed: “It is now more than 30 years since China forcefully occupied Tibet. In this period, our religion and culture has been destroyed. The people of Tibet have suffered tremendous physical and economic deprivation, and at least 1.2 million have died as a direct result of the occupation. But never, even in the worst of times, did the Tibetans lose their distinct national identity. That is the threat we face today: The complete assimilation and absorption of our people by a vast sea of Chinese settlers streaming across our borders.”

The Tibetan leader continued: “Early this century, the Manchus were a distinct race with their own culture and traditions. Today, only two to three million Manchurians are left in Manchuria, where 75 million Chinese have settled. In Eastern Turkestan, which the Chinese now call Sinkiang [Xinjiang], the Chinese population has grown from 200,000 in 1949 to seven million, more than half of the total population of 13 million. In the wake of the Chinese colonization of Inner Mongolia, Chinese now outnumber the Mongols by 8.5 million to 2.5 million.”

In 1985, the Dalai Lama mentioned his native place, Amdo, an area visited yesterday by Xi Jinping: “The area where I was born, the Kokonor region of northeastern Tibet, now already has a population of 2.5 million Chinese and only 700,000 Tibetans, according to a recent Chinese newspaper report. The Chinese claim to be giving special care and attention to the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region, which comprises only the western and central parts of Tibet, but they are sending large numbers of young Chinese colonists into the eastern and northeastern parts of our country.”

The situation is far more dramatic today, but nobody seems to bother.


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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Claude Arpi

Writes regularly on Tibet, China, India and Indo-French relations. He is the author of 1962 and the McMahon Line Saga, Tibet: The Lost Frontier and Dharamshala and Beijing: the negotiations that never were.

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