The term “development” defines the Chinese official discourse on Tibet and Tibetans. Officials speak of development in symbolic and practical terms as it serves the overall policy strategy towards Tibet. This paper examines the meaning of development in the context of encounters between government officials and local residents in Dartsedo (Chin.:Kangding) in Eastern Tibet over a new town project. Because urbanization has been portrayed as the driving force of growth and development in Tibetan areas, this paper investigates the implementation of such an initiative. I argue that project implementation on the ground stands in sharp contrast to the language of “people first” and “scientific” development in the official discourse. Furthermore, I argue that the discrepancies between rhetoric and reality have led to a series of socio-economic problems for the relocated farmers.