CHINA> Regional
Tibet 'has seen 50 years of freedom'
By Hu Yinan in Beijing and Peng Kuang in Lhasa (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-03-11 07:53

Tibet government chief Qiangba Puncog dismissed the Dalai Lama's claim that more than 1 million Tibetans were killed in the "Tibetan genocide" during the past 50 years.

"What he said is totally nonsense and utter fabrication," Puncog, a National People's Congress (NPC) delegate, told China Daily before the third plenary meeting of the Second Session of the 11th NPC in Beijing yesterday.

March 10 marked the 50th anniversary of the foiling of an armed rebellion staged by the ruling class in Tibet to preserve serfdom and theocracy.

Full coverage:
 Tibet in 50 years

Related readings:
Hu stresses stability in Tibet
Dalai's utter distortion of Tibet history
Lhasa stable, troops normal: official
Official optimistic about Tibet development amid crisis

The central government implemented democratic reforms and abolished serfdom in Tibet after the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959. The central leadership removed him from the post as vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee only in 1964.

Puncog said Tibet's population, of which more than 95 percent were Tibetans and people from other ethnic minority groups, increased from 1.2 million in 1959 to 2.87 million in 2008 - faster than ever in the past several centuries.

The Dalai Lama, however, accused China of having brought "hell on earth" to Tibet in a speech yesterday at his "government-in-exile" in Dharamshala, India.

At a press briefing later yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu dismissed the Dalai Lama's statements as lies.

"The Dalai group confuses right and wrong and spreads rumors," he said, calling for the withdrawal of a proposed US congressional resolution on Tibet, citing "the basic norms guiding international relations".

The US House of Representatives was to vote on the non-binding measure on Tibet, authored by Democratic Representative Rush Holt.

"The Chinese government and people, as always, oppose any country or anyone interfering in China's internal affairs on the pretext of the Tibet issue," Ma said.

In Lhasa yesterday, all was quiet and stable as pilgrims continued to hold their prayer wheels around the holy city's streets.

A shop assistant working near the Jokhang Temple, a major site of the riot in central Lhasa in March 2008, told China Daily: "Our shop and business were hurt pretty bad last year, but things are different now. It's safe here."

Five minutes' walk away is the Lhasa First Elementary School, which opened for the new semester on Monday. Sixth-grader Tenzin Phuntsog said: "I'm preparing for my junior high entrance exam in the summer. That's the only thing on my mind right now."