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Dharamshala: - The Chinese government has announced a plan to increase the urban population of the region by a further 30 percent by 2020. The plan entails moving approximately 280,000 ethnic Han Chinese into Tibet.

However, Tibetans say 'population transfer of Han Chinese settlers into Tibet was posing the greatest threat to the survival of the religious, cultural and national identity of the Tibetan people. Because Tibetans say China"s hard line repressive policies have made them a minority in their own country, depriving them of jobs, discriminating against their culture and religion, and denying their political and economic rights.'

The urban population of Tibet has risen dramatically since the 1980s, when China launched a "National Strategic Project to Develop the West" following the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Before the campaign, under 300,000 people lived in 31 towns and cities in Tibet. According to Chinese estimates for 2013, over 740,000 people now live in 140 towns and cities in Tibet. The new push will bring that number to over one million Chinese.

The majority of new residents in Tibet are Han Chinese. The Chinese population has increased in all Tibetan regions since China invaded Tibet in 1959.

In the administrative capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, Lhasa, Chinese outnumber Tibetans three to one, while in 1990 there were only 81,200 Chinese in all of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

In addition to the Chinese resident population measured in government figures, there are also an additional 300,000 to 500,000 (150,000 to 250,000 in TAR) ethnic Chinese stationed in Tibet as cadres, administrative staff, and ordinary and military police.

The chairman of the so called Tibetan regional government, Lobsang Gyaltsen (Ch: Losang Jamcan), said at the meeting that Tibet still lagged behind many regions of China, and that urbanization especially was lagging behind the rest of China.

Gyaltsen said that Tibet wanted to improve public services in urban areas in order to attract more people to move to Tibet, and to boost local economies.

"Altogether 7.97 million people including 5.56 million Tibetans and 2.41 million of other ethnic groups" now live in Tibetan areas, including 10 autonomous prefectures for Tibetans or those mixed with Tibetan and other ethnic groups, and 2 autonomous counties in Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu Provinces and Tibet Autonomous Region,' said an article published in 2010 by the China Tibet Information Center, citing official statistics.

The article further said that the Memorandum on "Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People" which the Tibetan representatives submitted to China seeks a total of more than "2.5 million square kilometers," where "31 million people including 25 million people of the Han" Chinese and other ethnic groups live in the above areas, covering almost "the whole Qinghai, half of Sichuan, half of Gansu, a quarter of Yunnan and the southern part of Xinjiang."

But the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamshala has repeatedly urged the Chinese authorities in Tibet to address the genuine grievances of the Tibetan people to alleviate their sufferings and to end its political repression, religious persecution, cultural assimilation, economic marginalization and environmental destruction in Tibet, which remain the main causes of drastic forms of protests, including self-immolations.

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