The Hong Kong based Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy reports that since the Qinghai-Tibet Railway opened on July 1, 2006, a large number of Chinese citizens have rushed into Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to open restaurants and provide services. With this increase, the Chinese population in Lhasa now outnumbers Tibetans.
The Information Center's inquiry to the Lhasa City Police Department Chengguan Branch Office of Household Registration has confirmed that Lhasa had a total population of 250,000 in May 2006. A year after the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, Lhasa's population had increased to 350,000, including 150,000 Tibetans and 200,000 Chinese citizens. Half of the Chinese population had recently emigrated from Sichuan Province via the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
It is reported that after the railway opened, the service businesses, including restaurants and massage services, increased rapidly. Due to high profit margins, a large number of Chinese residents from outside of Tibet have moved to Lhasa to open such businesses.
The Information Center noted that encouraging Chinese citizens to emigrate to Tibet thus displacing Tibetans has become an important method for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to deal with the “Tibetan Independence Movement.” In the past, the CCP had sent large numbers of officials and students to live in Tibet in an effort to make Tibet more Chinese. This approach was not successful, as most Chinese did not like the harsh living conditions of Tibet.
Using the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to make a Chinese Tibet had a totally different outcome. With the high profit in restaurant businesses in Tibet, emigrating to Lhasa has become a means for earning a good living and becoming prosperous.
According to the Information Center, an emergency meeting was held in June 2007 at the Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs under the CCP Central Government to discuss the security issue of the Qinghai-Tibet Railroad. It has been rumored that unexploded bombs were found along the railroad, but this information has not yet been confirmed.