BRUSSELS -- A renowned Belgian professor specialized in Oriental Studies said here Thursday that the Chinese government has done a great deal in the protection of the Tibetan culture.
"Without the support and help of the Chinese government in protection, the culture in Tibet could not be as good as it is now," Professor Charles Willemen, a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua and China Central TV in a joint interview.
"The government has helped a lot, really," stressed Prof. Willemen, who has visited Tibet for three times.
He described the Dalai Lama's accusation which says that the Chinese government has carried out "culture genocide" policy in Tibet as "strange and unjustified."
Prof. Willemen made his first visit to Tibet in the 1980s and the third 10 years ago.
He visited China four times a year since he made his first trip 25 years ago.
"I witnessed great changes in Tibet," he said, noting that Lhasa, capital of China's Tibetan Autonomous Region, was as developed as other cities in China, but with its own characteristics.
"When I first visited there, there was only one hotel for foreigners," he said, "but later there are more hotels, new temples and institutes for people to worship and study Buddhism. Now there is a new airport in Lhasa."
With respect to the life of the Tibetan people, Prof. Willemen, who once visited homes of ordinary Tibetans, said: "They are very happy, and happier than the Belgians."
He said some people in the West do not like to see changes in Tibet, "but one should understand that any region in the world should witness development and progress. It is impossible to remain forever like the Medieval times."
Prof. Willemen is fluent in Chinese and Japanese, and can read Hindi.
He has also been working to promote cultural exchanges and friendly relations between China and Europe. He was once vice president of the Belgium-China Friendly Association.