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We've often heard of the migration of Han people to the Tibetan plateau but this is only half the story. People migrate both ways. |
Sichuan is home to more than 1.2 million Tibetans. Chengdu’s Tibetan community is the largest urban gathering of Tibetans outside Lhasa.
Population statistics show there is a two-way flow of people between Tibet and inland areas. Approx. 260,000 Han people are living in Tibet, this is 9% of the total population. Most of them live in Lhasa where they represent 20% of all inhabitants. Many have moved there looking for business opportunities. A number of Han people who opened shops found the climate difficult and only stayed a couple of years high up on the Tibetan Plateau.
Anyhow, the increasing number of Tibetans living outside of Tibet and Han people moving to Tibet gives both groups an ideal opportunity to better understand each other,” said Rigzin Losel, director of Contemporary Studies at China Tibetology Research Center.
Over the years, Chengdu's Wuhou district has become a major hub for exchanges between Tibetans and the outside world. The district is loaded with thriving Tibetan restaurants and shops selling monastic equipments, colorful traditional clothes and jewelry. The district attracts more than 1 million tourist a year.
Dawa Lhamo, a Tibetan lama who traveled two days from his temple in Ganzi to shop in Chengdu, is staying at the DIY home-hotel run by his friend. His friend, Karing, acts as a guide around Chengdu for newcomers to the metropolis. He shows them the best places to shop, where those traveling further inland can buy cheap tickets, and arranges appointments to see a doctor. For Tibetans Chengdu has become home away from home. Business and education opportunities are the main focus of Tibetans who settle in Chengdu, which is known as the “backyard garden” of Lhasa. In the beginning newcomers prefer to stay and live together with their own kind. But the generations of Tibetans that have been brought up and educated in Chengdu frequently wear Han fashions and prefer to live together with the Han community.
Shops in Wuhou district appear to be owned in equal numbers by Han and Tibetans, and relations between shopkeepers are very relaxed. There is no language barrier to stop them from communicating with each other and Tibetans from different regions, which each have their own dialect, are often heard speaking Putonghua to each other.
A survey conducted by Southwest University for Nationalities earlier found that 62 percent of the Tibetan residents of Chengdu surveyed would like to live in a multiethnic community where they can make friends and learn from the other. Twenty percent said they prefer living in their own community where they can maintain their ethnic customs.
Tsewang Dorje, a researcher of Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences, says people naturally gravitate to opportunity. “People go where they can find hope. Hope for a better life, a better society,” he said.
Tashi Dondrup, a professor at Southwest University for Nationalities, is now babysitting three of his nephews who are attending school in Chengdu. “It’s a big responsibility to take care of their education,” he said.
Many Tibetans send their children to schools in Chengdu, where they feel the higher standards of education will bring better opportunities for them in the future.
Almost every class in Chengdu’s good schools has Tibetan students, said Dondrup.
More and more Tibetans are realizing education is a key to accessing the modern world and it’s important to take advantage of the education opportunities that are now available in big cities.
Many Tibetan students don’t have hukou here, but they can attend public school (in Chengdu) and then return home to take the gaokao where they are entitled to extra marks which are given to all students from ethnic minorities.
It is estimated that there are about 500 Tibetans attending primary schools in Shuangliu county, in southwest Chengdu. A survey conducted by Southwest University for Nationalities found that 80 percent of the students aged from 5 to 13 who were surveyed said they like making new friends at school. Another 12 percent said that their peers are curious about them.
Asked if they want people to know they are Tibetan, 51 percent said yes, and 37 percent said it didn’t matter.
This is the reality in 2012 where ever more Tibetans decide to have modern eductaion. This is the major threat to the Dharamsala clique. This is what they want to prevent because a modern way of life, a top education and cultural cohabitation is what the DL and his clique really fear. With each passing day their chances diminish.