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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

New York hosts Tibetan expert and scholars

June 2, 2012

(China Daily 5/24/12)


A delegation of Tibet experts and scholars gathered at the Chinese Consulate in New York to exchange views on current social and economic developments in the Tibet autonomous region. Led by Zhang Yun, director of the Institute for History Studies at the China Tibetology Research Center, Wednesday's delegation also consisted of Kelsang Dolma, an economic researcher at the center, and Fu Faxiang, professor at the School of Ethnology and Sociology at the Central University for Nationalities.


Zhang pointed out that Tibet's economy has grown dramatically in recent years. From 1984 to 1994, investment in fixed assets in the region contributed more than 40 percent to its economy, rising to 66 percent by 1996.  "Then it reached 75 percent from 2003 to 2009, 20 percent higher than the national average," he said.  During the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), the scholar added, "the central government will spend 330.5 billion yuan in Tibet on 226 large-scale projects, another big step forward to push the region’s economic growth".


Despite economic growth since reforms and China's policy of opening, Tibet still faces numerous challenges to further development. Zhang said that's one reason the central government has also begun to emphasize social progress. Greater efforts are anticipated in education, health care, social welfare and employment to improve Tibetans' lives.


Then there is the matter of religion. Buddhism is the dominant faith in Tibet, and Zhang said improving the condition of local Buddhist monasteries is crucial.  "The central government has also promised four guarantees to monasteries in transportation, postal services, electricity and water. Meanwhile, social security has been extended. For example, lamas will have minimum allowances; older lamas will have pensions."   Wednesday's discussion drew attention from prominent US media outlets.


Rick Gladstone, an assistant editor at The New York Times, said exchanges of views about Tibet benefit people from China and the US.



Dalai Lama group urged to abandon separatism (China Daily 5/16/12)


The Chinese government will not involve the Dalai Lama group in talks if it continues to promote separatism and incite monks and young Tibetans to carry out self-immolations, a visiting leader of China's Tibet autonomous region said on Tuesday in Brussels.


Even if conditions allow the Chinese government to engage the Dalai Lama group, the "only topic" on the agenda should be the "personal future of the Dalai's followers and Tibetans overseas", said Qiangba Puncog, head of the standing committee of the Tibet autonomous region's people's congress. “This is our principle of holding talks with the Dalai Lama's representatives," Qiangba said, sending a strong message at the seminar organized by the Brussels Institute of Contemporary Chinese Studies. Qiangba is leading a delegation to introduce the development of Tibet in Belgium and the European headquarters.  But the Dalai Lama's representatives are sticking to the points of separating Tibet from China and forming a "bigger Tibetan region", which includes parts of Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan, where other Tibetans live. "The union of a country and future of Tibet are not negotiable, and the only topic we want to talk is the personal future of Tibetans overseas," said Qiangba.


Self-immolations of monks and young Tibetans aroused much concern among Europeans at the seminar. Participants asked Qiangba to reveal the "true stories".  As a Tibetan, Qiangba said encouraging suicide is not a part of Tibetan Buddhism, and it is clear that the self-immolations are nothing but staged scenes directed by the Dalai Lama group, serving their separatist motive and agenda.  However, Qiangba clarified the misunderstanding that the self-immolations took place in Tibet. "So far there is not a single case of self-immolation in Tibet," said Qiangba, adding that Tibetans are also living in Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunan provinces.


Since last year, about 30 cases of self-immolations have happened in temples outside Tibet, and more than 20 monks and young Tibetans have died in the wrongdoings arranged by the Dalai Lama group. "I am very sad because of the self-immolations, and I am urging the Dalai Lama group to stop as soon as possible," said Qiangba.  Qiangba said all of the self-immolations took place at temples outside Tibet, and evidence showed that they were supported by the Dalai Lama group.


"Video materials clearly show who is setting the fires, who is taking photos and who is spreading such photos outside China to institutions such as the European Parliament," said Qiangba, who also gave videos to European researchers as references for research.  "And even though there is no such case in Tibet, Dalai Lama followers and some foreigners play up the issue and say 'Tibet is on fire'."


Qiangba said it is important for Europeans to remove their misunderstandings, biases and wrong ideas about Tibet, which is open to tourists, journalists and scholars.  Regarding China's firm stances on engagement with the Dalai group, Jonathan Holslag of the Brussels Institute of Contemporary Chinese Studies said: "I think every country has the right to decide the way to deal with its domestic issues. We Europeans should not be in the positions to lecture."  Holslag said it is very useful to have this kind of candid talk with Tibetan leaders and Western scholars. He said his institute will continue to play a bigger role to bridge the understanding gap between China and Europe, especially on sensitive topics such as Tibet.

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