In a February 17 online article entitled "Charity Case," Newsweek's Issac Stone Fish declared: "Whether they like it or not, China has been very good for Tibetans." Fish's outrageous claim came on the eve of President Obama's Thursday meeting with Tibet's religious leader, the Dalai Lama.
While Fish noted how: "Tibetans feel chafed by the restrictions on their political and religious freedoms; many are dissatisfied with Chinese rule....They want self-determination; fair enough." But then dismissed those concerns as he praised Chinese communist rule: "For China's many blunders in mountainous region, it has erected a booming economy there. Looking at growth, standard of living, infrastructure, and GDP, one thing is clear: China has been good for Tibet."
Fish touted China's investment in Tibet's infrastructure: "Since 2001, Beijing has spent $45.4 billion on development in the Tibet Autonomous Region....Infrastructure improvements have not only helped grow the economy but also have aided in modernizing remote parts of the Tibetan plateau." Fish quoted Columbia University Tibetan studies professor Gray Tuttle, who boasted: "Cellphone service in parts of western Tibet is better than in parts of New Jersey."
Fish concluded the piece by lamenting how "all the money has failed to buy Tibetan loyalty." He then implied the Tibetans should show more gratitude to their foreign oppressors: "In exchange for an astronomical rise in living standards, the government requires citizens to relinquish the right to free worship and free speech. The Chinese government has kept its end of the deal. Even if Tibetan residents never signed the contract, they have benefitted from its enforcement – a fact Obama might keep in mind when he meets the Dalai Lama."
The argument by Fish that Tibet is better off under the dominance of Chinese communism is reminiscent of a story in the October 12, 2009 issue of Newsweek that asked: "Was Russia Better Off Red?" The article explained: "Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has seen an increase in oligarchs and Louis Vuitton outlets. But by many other measures, Russians are worse off."