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Warning over Tibet's removal of checkpoints


THE Tibetan government's decision to remove all checkpoints on highways leading to neighbouring provinces could open the floodgates to even greater Han Chinese migration into the region, Tibetans and Western observers have warned.

While the move appears to be aimed at liberalising the flow of goods and services in and out of Tibet, analysts say the main effect will be to further encourage Han migration.

Even with the checkpoints in place, Han migration has increased dramatically over the last two years to the point where local Tibetans say the floating Chinese population in the capital Lhasa is now as high, if not higher, than the official, mainly Tibetan, urban population of 120,000.

Tibetan officials put the floating population at between 40,000 and 60,000.

The removal of the seven checkpoints on the highways to Qinghai and Sichuan was a ''tacit admission'' that the Tibetan government is not trying to stop the migration and ''symbolic invitation'' to even more Chinese farmers and entrepreneurs to settle in Tibet, observers said.

The Dalai Lama's Tibetan government-in-exile has accused the Chinese authorities of deliberately moving hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese settlers into the region as part of their ''final solution'' to the problem of Tibetan independence.

Many observers say there is no real evidence to back this up.

By adopting their own ''open door'' policy and encouraging Han entrepreneurs to set up businesses in Tibet, local officials say a thriving industrial and commercial sector can be created in what has traditionally been an agricultural economy.