Crisis States Working Paper 42

Title : Urban Fault Lines in Shangri-La: Population and Economic Foundations of Inter-Ethnic Conflict in the Tibetan Areas of Western China
Author(s) : Andrew Martin Fischer
Date : June 2004

Abstract : This paper argues that contemporary experiences of social exclusion and interethnic conflict in the Tibetan areas of Western China are interrelated and revolve around three processes – population, growth and employment – all of which centre on the urban areas. In this setting, the critical factors generating exclusion and fuelling conflict are the differentials between groups, such as urbanisation rates and education levels, rather than base line characteristics, such as population shares or poverty levels. The paper starts with a brief overview of ethnic conflict in the Tibetan areas, followed by an analysis of population issues and the economic fundamentals of exclusionary growth. It closes with some reflections on the role that ethnic conflict plays within these processes.