Tibetologisit lashes out at "cultural genocide"

Updated: 2008-03-23 09:17

BEIJING - A Chinese expert on Tibetan studies lashed out at the Dalai Lama's recent claims of "cultural genocide" on Saturday, saying that the real motive behind the remarks is to split the country and seek Tibetan independence.

Jin's comments came after an unrest in the regional capital Lhasa a week ago that led to the deaths of 18 civilians and one police officer.

The Chinese government accused the Dalai clique of organizing, premeditating and masterminding the riot, which involved beating, smashing, ransacking and arson, while the Dalai Lama said the Chinese government was carrying out "cultural genocide" in the region.

"The Dalai clique knows well how to catch the world's attention by preaching the so-called 'cultural genocide', because they know more and more people from around the globe are showing interest in the distinctive and mysterious Tibetan culture," said Jin Zhiguo, chief editor of the Beijing-based bi-monthly magazine, China's Tibet.

"Their arguments are groundless," said 51-year-old Jin, who worked in Tibet's cultural authorities from 1977 to 2003, during an exclusive interview with Xinhua.


"With the continuous social progress and the advancement of productive forces, it's a natural thing for some cultural phenomena that are attached to relatively backward means of production to fade out of history," he said, referring to the gradual disappearance of salt-transporting from lake areas to pasturing areas by pack animals, yak or sheep.

"But the cultural activities closely connected with the salt-transporting, such as singing and dancing, rituals and taboos, have been preserved," he said, noting that a Tibetan writer and TV journalists have recorded the centuries-old tradition in a book and a TV documentary.

"We needn't have to keep black slavery in the United States just in order to enjoy the Blues," he said. "The disappearance of salt-transporting by yaks won't lead to the vanishing of the cultural elements it gave birth to."


Jin said that the Chinese government has attached great importance to preserving the Tibetan culture and language.

He said the government founded an institution in 1979 to salvage and edit the Life of King Gesar, a Tibetan heroic tale and the world's longest epic that has been transmitted orally by ballad singers or lyricists for centuries.

After many years of effort, gesarologists have, with the help of 57 balladeers, recorded 130 volumes of audio tapes about the epic, written down more than 90 volumes of books and published more than 30 volumes, he said.

"Researchers are still looking for new ballad singers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and collecting more oral material from the epic," he said.

Apart from that, the use of spoken and written Tibetan language has not been discouraged during the past years, and companies have been encouraged to develop technologies using Tibetan characters, according to Jin.

"Just go to the Internet cafes in Tibet and see whether you can find a computer without inputting method in Tibetan language. All my Tibetan colleagues can use their own language to send text messages via mobile phones," he said.

In addition to the preservation of intangible cultural heritage, the Chinese government has earmarked 570 million yuan (81.4 million U.S. dollars) for the preservation of 22 historical and cultural relics in Tibet. The project will start this year and last until 2010.

The funds will be directed at 15 monasteries under state-level protection and seven historical sites proving the rule over Tibet by central governments in Chinese history, Nyi'ma Cering, Tibet Regional Cultural Heritage Bureau director, has said.

The latest move came after another preservation project of 330 million yuan on Potala Palace, Sagya Monastery and Norbu Lingka Palace. These began in 2002 and were expected to be finished this year.

Over the past two decades, the central and local governments have invested more than 700 million yuan in total in the preservation and maintenance of historical and cultural relics in Tibet. This covered more than 1,400 monasteries, cultural relics and religious sites.

In the eyes of Jin, the claims of "cultural genocide" by the Dalai clique are absurd, and are actually demonstrations of their real motive of splitting China and seeking "Tibet independence".

"If the Chinese government really wants to launch a 'cultural genocide' in Tibet, then why does it spend money to support us for studying, preserving and promoting the Tibetan culture?" he said.

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