Tibetans are in fear of losing their culture and identity
China's railroad carries increasing numbers of tourists and migrants to Tibet:
In 2011, China's railroads carried 6,5 million travelers to Tibet. According to the "Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company", it was mainly Chinese tourists and migrants who used the railway line that was opened in 2006. "This means that the worst fears of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans have become true," said the STP's expert on questions regarding Asia, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Friday. "Never before have so many people from other regions of China visited Tibet within a year. But the Tibetans don't benefit much from from the railways because hundreds of thousands of Han-Chinese have settled along railway line since the tracks were built – and they are now also controlling tourism in Tibet." Before the opening of the controversial railway that covers the 1596 kilometers from Golmud to Lhasa, the Tibetans had already warned that this would intensify their cultural dislocation and result in increasing immigration movements by Han-Chinese.
More than 200,000 Han-Chinese have settled in Lhasa alone. The old capital of Tibet – that once had 50,000 inhabitants – is now largely influenced by the Chinese. The majority of Chinese tourists who come to Tibet choose hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and brothels that belong to Han- Chinese, as they seem less foreign to them and guarantee a vacation in fairly familiar surroundings. Also, Chinese owners of hotels and restaurant prefer Han-Chinese people as workers, so that Tibetans are significantly disadvantaged on the job-market.
In 2011, the number of passengers on the railway line (which the designers call a technical masterpiece) has increased by nine percent in comparison to the year before – and in 2012, the Chinese railway will even carry around 6.9 million people to Tibet. "These figure are very worrying for the Tibetans, because they represent a further sellout of their homeland and their resources," warned Delius – because the Railway also moves 40 million tons of freight a year. These are not only products from the major industrial centers in eastern China that are to be sold in Tibet, but also hundreds of thousands of tons of ore, produced in Tibet by Chinese companies. Along the railroad, the development of new mines is booming because now precious minerals (gold, lithium and copper) can be dismantled and transported quickly even from Tibetian plateaus to the major industrial centers in China. The expansion of the mines will have disastrous consequences for Tibet's environment and the traditional nomadic society.
The colonization of Tibet by the Chinese government will increase further, as the railway line is going to be extended by 253 kilometers to Shigatse until 2015. Also, new routes to Nepal and Sikkim will be opened.