China says 90% of 3 million in “TAR” are Tibetans

In this undated photo, Chinese riot policemen patrol in front of the Potala palace in the Tibetan capital Lhasa. China, which maintains unusually huge military presence in Tibetan areas, finds it uncomfortable to give estimates of Han migrants,

The number of permanent residents in Tibet Autonomous Region has topped 3 million, at least 90 percent of whom are native Tibetans, China’s state run Xinhuanews agency cited the region’s bureau of statistic as saying in a press release.

The number of the region’s permanent residents, according to figures from the sixth national census conducted in 2010, has reached 3,002,166, up 14.75 percent from the previous census in 2000, the report said. 

It said the 2.716 million Tibetans make up about 90.48 percent of Tibet's total population, whereas the Han, China's most populous ethnic group, account for 8.17 percent and other ethnic groups make up 1.35 percent of the permanent residents in Tibet.

It further said TAR’s population had witnessed an annual 1.4 percent growth rate.

Although, China's one child policy does not apply to Tibetans and, farming and herding Tibetan families, the average number of people per household dropped slightly compared with the 2000 figure, the report added.

It said the latest census found TAR’s 670,835 households had an average of 4.23 people each, down from the average 4.75 people per household in 2000.

According to the report, Shigatse (Ch: Xigaze) the home to Panchen Lamas, one of Tibet’s most revered spiritual figures, is the most populated Tibetan prefecture, with 703,292 residents, followed by Chamdo, Lhasa, Nagchu, Shannan, Nyingchi and Ngari.

Independent media reports earlier cited Chinese officials as saying that Tibetans make up “more than 95 percent of the region’s 2.9 million people”. Reports also say that in the cities of Lhasa and Shigatse, Han neighborhoods often dominate the Tibetan areas.

Chinese officials, however, often find it uncomfortable to give estimates on Han migrants, who are not registered residents.

The so-called “Tibet Autonomous Region” was established by the Chinese Communist regime in 1965 and forms only one third of the total territory of the historical Tibet.

China has ruled Tibet since Communist troops forcefully invaded the region in 1950. Ten years later in 1959, over 80,000 Tibetans followed the Dalai Lama, who is revered by Tibetans as their undisputed leader, into exile and established a Tibetan government in exile as part of an effort to restore freedom in the Himalayan homeland.

China’s illegal occupation of the once peaceful cultural nation subsequently resulted in the death of an estimated 1.2 million Tibetans and destruction of thousands of monasteries.

China says its modernisation and rule over TAR and other Tibetan territories bifurcated into neighboring Chinese provinces has brought rapid economic development into the Tibetan regions.

Critics, however, rubbish the claim and say modernisation in Tibet has been crushingly imposed by the Chinese authorities along with draconian measures that restrict freedom of expression, freedom to follow a religion of choice and curtailment of opportunity.

Critics also point out that China’s broader aim seems to be remaking Tibet - a region with its own culture, language and religious traditions - in order to have firmer political control over its population.

While pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into road-building and development projects in Tibet, China is maintaining a large military presence and keeping close tabs on the citizenry through a vast security apparatus of cameras and informants on urban streets and in the monasteries to contain its tight grip on the restive Himalayan region and to quell any impending demonstrations, like the one that broke out in March 2008 against its rule.

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