1987-1989 Tibet unrest stated to have shaved 27% off GDP per capita over 1988-2007

Tibetan monk Jampa Tenzin and protesters in Tibet capital Lhasa, 1987 (Photo courtesy: John Ackerly)

(TibetanReview.net, Feb01’19) – Two Chinese scholars in Germany, using the communist Chinese jargon on Tibetans who opposed Beijing’s policies in Tibet, have said the unrest that took place in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) from 1987 to 1989 had snipped 27% off the region’s GDP per capita from 1988 to 2007.

“We attribute the long-term effects of separatism on economic performance to the distortion in resource allocation induced by ethnic hostility and distrust,” China’s official globaltimes.cn Jan 30 quoted a research paper written by Professor Yu Xiaohua and research fellow Sun Feifei from the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at the University of Goettingen in Germany, as saying.

The report cited Yu as saying their research found that ethnic separatism can impact economic development in the TAR in five different ways: increasing public security expenditure, crowding out foreign investment, harming the tourism industry, creating a temporary “Brain Drain” and reducing both domestic and international trade cooperation.

And the report quoted the research paper as saying: “Uncertainty induced by separatist activities may distort resource allocation, including increasing public security expenditure, changing individuals’ consumption, investment and savings behavior, and shifting away from conflict-vulnerable economic activities, such as construction and manufacturing, toward less vulnerable but also less productive activities, such as agriculture.”

It was not clear whether the researchers focused on Chinese government policies that contributed to the so-called Tibetan separatism or whether they premised it all on the Chinese government’s false rhetoric that the so-called Dalai clique was responsible for it all.

The globaltimes.cn report claimed that since 1980s, the Dalai Lama and his supporters attempted to divide China and achieve independence for Tibet through violent means. It added, citing a Xinhua report, that on Sep 21, 1987, “Dalai claimed Tibet is not a part of China but an independent country in his speech delivered in the US Congress.”

But truth be told, the Dalai Lama on that day presented his Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet to the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus. While indeed saying Tibet was historically an independent country, he also called for policies to alleviate the suffering of the Tibetan people and the devastation of their homeland while seeking “earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.” He elaborated on this in his address to the members of the European Parliament at Strasbourg on Jun 15, 1988, calling for autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule.

The researcher have been cited as saying that due to the 1987-1989 unrest, China’s government changed the policies towards Tibet, adding, “It makes sense that it took about 3 years to materialize the policy effects, as we see the effect became very large in 1993.”


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