You know who's been pretty good for Tibet? China

Since 2001, Beijing has spent $45.4 billion on development in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). (That’s what the Chinese government calls Tibet, even though many Tibetans live in neighboring provinces, too). The effect: double-digit GDP growth for the past nine years. About a third of the money went to infrastructure investment, including the train connecting Beijing to Lhasa. “A clear benefit of the train was that it makes industrial goods cheaper for Tibetans, who, like everyone else in the world, like household conveniences, but normally had to pay very high prices,” said Ben Hillman, a Tibet expert from the Australian National University’s China Institute. The train also provides an opportunity for Tibetan goods to be sold outside of the region and for a massive increase in number of tourists, reaching more than 5.5 million in 2009—up from close to 2 million in 2005, the year before the train. The Chinese government’s Tibet tourism bureau expects the numbers to keep climbing. While Tibetan independence groups like Free Tibet raise sustainability concerns about the increase in tourism, Hillman points out that “tourism is an important industry that can benefit local Tibetans.”…

It’s true that, so far, all the money has failed to buy Tibetan loyalty. Beijing won’t deal with the Dalai Lama, even though Tibetans revere him, nor will it let his monastic followers build any power or voice any nationalist sympathy. Instead, the government is offering Tibetans the same bargain it has offered the rest of the country: 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 benefited from its enforcement—a fact Obama might keep in mind when he meets the Dalai Lama.