Turning all of Tibet into a national park – China politics and current affairs news from April 24, 2017

Politics

A summary of today’s top news in Chinese politics and current affairs. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "A second subdued Xi-Trump phone call."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying speaks during a briefing at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. North Korea’s claim to have conducted its first hydrogen bomb test acts is seen by key ally China as yet another act of defiance, raising the likelihood that Beijing will endorse new United Nations sanctions and possibly enforce unilateral trade restrictions. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

China “is considering turning the entire Tibetan plateau and surrounding mountains into a huge national park,” the South China Morning Post reports. A government survey is set to be conducted this summer using advanced equipment, including drones and satellites, to determine the boundaries of what would be by far the world’s largest preserved natural area. At 2.5 million square kilometers, the prospective “Third Pole National Park” would dwarf even the autonomous province of Tibet itself (only 1.2 million square kilometers), leading to contrasting results: On the one hand, the vast natural resources of Tibet would be totally cut off from development, and worries about the integrity of water supplied from the plateau to the entire region would be assuaged. However, an undetermined number of people may need to be relocated, and there is potential for the new park to include land also claimed by India, heightening territorial and ethnic conflict.

“It is too big for a park,” said one scientist of the plan to protect a “last piece of pure land,” as a directive from President Xi Jinping referred to it. A park of 2.5 million square kilometers would be more than 250 times the size of Yellowstone Park, and over 2.5 times the size of the existing world’s largest park, in Greenland. It would be difficult to manage such a large public space, yet some officials seem keen to make this a Chinese park with Yellowstone’s global stature, as one noted that only 1.5 percent of tourists to Tibet are foreign and “the European and American markets…have huge potential.”