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

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

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.”

Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.