With my master s thesis I wanted to shed light on some of the many contradictions in TAR. I want to look at the status of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in China today and see how some of these contradictions are created. Lhasa bears the traits of a colony city. This poses two questions: Firstly, can TAR be seen as an internal colony of China? And secondly, does doing so help to at least partially explain Tibetans frustrations? In order to answer these questions, I use two theoretical frameworks well suited to look specifically at aspects of dependency: internal colonialism and welfare colonialism.
With the theories of internal colonialism and welfare colonialism, I will show how Tibetans have no control over the policies that affect their lives, and with a limited influence on their own lives they are to a large extent excluded from taking part in developing their own region. On the basis of this, I will look at the current system of social security in TAR and compare it to Guangdong province to see how such a system is organized differently in TAR compared to other regions of China and look at whether it is possible to see how those differences affect people.
Tibetans receive social security benefits through the same programs as in the rest of China, but the economic structure of the program is different from mainland China. The health care insurance system is subsidized directly from the central government, whereas in a province like Guangdong, the system is funded mainly on provincial and local level. The TAR government would not be able to initiate social security schemes in TAR if it was not subsidised by the central government. While the social security schemes will benefit the Tibetans, they are also politically created, dictated from the patron to the client in a clientilistic relationship. With no real political or economic control over their own budgets, Tibetans in TAR have little power to decide how they implement social security.
The central governments policies in TAR are paternalistic, based on the assumption that it knows better that the Tibetans what is best for them. If Tibetans had the possibility to a greater extent take part of the economic development of their region, they would perhaps not feel such a need to oppose their Chinese leaders. The challenge for the Chinese authorities lies in the need to implement important structural change to enable Tibetans to take responsibility for development efforts in their own region, empowering Tibetan workers.