- By Isaac Stone FishIsaac Stone Fish is FP's Asia editor. A Mandarin speaker, he lived in China for seven years before moving to Washington, D.C. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times, the Economist, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, and he has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC, the BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, and PRI, among others.
Everything’s coming up roses in the Tibetan capital, according to the government-run China Daily, which has the largest circulation of any English-language newspaper in China:
"Lhasa, the city of sunlight, topped an annual survey of residents’ sense of happiness in Chinese cities. The capital of the Tibet autonomous region has ranked at the top of the survey conducted by China Central Television for five consecutive years."
There have been at least 50 self-immolations in Tibet and Tibetan areas of China since March 2009 and massive riots shook Lhasa in 2008. Many Tibetans resent the arrival of Han Chinese into the region as well as restrictive policies that prohibit freedom of religion, freedom of assemgly, or even mentioning the Dalai Lama. Western journalists have been denied access to Lhasa for months, if not years; in all likelihood the current situation in Lhasa is pretty grim.
The survey doesn’t mention any of these things. The article states that of the 100,000 households polled from 104 cities "the results showed income level most affected people’s sense of well-being (55.5 percent), followed by health (48.9 percent) and quality of marriage or love life (32 percent)." The article doesn’t specifically explain why residents of Lhasa are so happy.
In other Lhasa happiness news, on Aug. 19th the city hosted the "2012 Happy City Mayor Forum" where mayors and experts from more than 20 cities and came up with a "Happiness Action Promise" to make residents more joyful.