It is claimed by the Dalai Lama and several human rights organizations that China is committing "cultural genocide" in Tibet. But how close they are to this goal? Did the Tibetan people really change their culture and realign with Beijing?
There is a high level of subjective interpretation inherent to any question of culture. Where a traditionalist sees cultural extinction, others may see the preservation of a culture through adaptation to modernity.
Perhaps the closest thing to an objectively quantifiable measure of cultural transmission is the use of the language. An article in the New York Times describes efforts by the Chinese government to prevent the teaching of the Tibetan language, and cites estimates that "the literacy rate in Tibetan among Tibetans in China has fallen well below 20 percent, and continues to decline." Obviously if that rate falls to zero, the spoken language would also be highly endangered, making cultural extinction an imminent possibility.
Another key issue to consider is the succession of the Dalai Lama. There is considerable pressure on the Tibetan community that he (or potentially, she, which would be a radical break with tradition) should be approved by the Chinese government. In response, the present Dalai Lama has suggested that his position might be abolished, if Tibetan people agree that it should. Such a decision might be seen as acquiescing to cultural genocide, especially taken in conjunction with the decline of the language and other key elements of Tibetan culture.