Shattering a Western myth
For centuries, Tibet has fascinated and inspired many fantasy novels and stories. Its remoteness and the exotic beauty of Buddhism fuel the Western imagination. But this myth should not obscure the reality, two Europeans said in an article.
Serge Pairoux, secretary-general of the Belgium-China Cultural Center, and Henri Lederhandler, vice-chairman of the Belgium-China Economic and Commercial Council, recalled Tibet's history.
Before 1949, serfdom was considered legal and the theocracy tried to preserve their privilege through conspiracies and intrigues. The slaves could be sold, bought, exchanged, and used as oxen and horses.
In 1950, the People's Liberation Army, which had just liberated most of the country after having helped to oust the Japanese occupiers, initiated a series of reforms, the most important of which was the abolition of serfdom. Hundreds of thousands of slaves became "human beings" again.
In the 1980s enormous effort was made to recover the damages done during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976). The monasteries were reconstructed and monks returned.
A boost was given to economic development. Tibet was connected to the outside world thanks to a railway line that links Lhasa with inland and allows the import and export of vital goods.
Life expectancy has increased by more than 10 years in a few years. Access to health care is becoming more widespread. New schools and higher educational institutions are open. Significant investments are being made in the region to modernize and integrate Tibet's economy throughout the country.
In addition, the emphasis is on protection of the environment through the establishment of nature reserves and the use of renewable energy sources. In short, all the economic indicators have shown the living standard of Tibetans has never been as high as today.
Many problems remain to be resolved in Tibet as in the rest of China, both in the economic and cultural fields. But according to the IMF and the World Bank, China has managed to pull 350 million people out of poverty in 20 years, which included hundreds of thousands of Tibetans.
The events currently taking place in Tibet and some other countries are clearly initiated by the Dalai Lama and his immediate entourage. Through the biased media coverage, they created disorder in international public opinion by taking hostage the Beijing Olympic Games and threatening stability in the region. This is unacceptable.
It is also unacceptable that once again those "eloquent speakers" set themselves up as judges and give lessons to China.
US groups behind Tibet move
The "Tibet independence" movement is supported by some influential US political groups, aiming to hinder the rising geopolitical status of China, a Russian professor told RIA Novosti.
Alexei Maslov, a Sinology expert, and a professor at People's Friendship University of Russia, said the common goal of the Western media reports was to stir up international public opinion and to isolate China as the Beijing Olympics approaches.
They pressed Beijing through the international media and human rights organizations to hold negotiations with the so-called Tibetan government in exile in India. China's stance on this is that Tibet is an inalienable part of China.
The purpose of putting pressure on China is to force Beijing to recognize the issue of "Tibetan sovereignty".
Undoubtedly, such recognition would threaten China's territorial integrity and the Chinese government would not allow this to happen at any time under any circumstances, Maslov said.
Trashing Beijing Road
Rioting began to spread through Beijing Road in Lhasa on March 14. A crowd of several dozen people rampaged along the road, some of them whooping as they threw stones at shops, The Economist reports.
The rioting quickly fanned through the winding alleyways of the city's old Tibetan area south of Beijing Road. Many of these streets are lined with small shops.
Crowds formed, seemingly spontaneously, in numerous parts of the district. They smashed into shops, pulled merchandise onto the streets, piled it up and set fire to it.
Everything from sides of yak meat to laundry was thrown onto the pyres. Rioters delighted in tossing in cooking gas canisters and running for cover as they exploded.
On March 15, paramilitary police began moving into the alleys, firing occasional bullets: not bursts of gunfire, but single deliberate shots, probably more in warning than with intent to kill. They also moved from rooftop to rooftop to deter residents from gathering on terraces overlooking the alleys.
The government's decision not to declare martial law, or any emergency restrictions, reflected its concern about the Olympics. But China needs to move faster to restore normality.
Events cannot be justified
The rioting that occurred recently in Lhasa and other areas in China can hardly be justified, a Russian scholar said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
In fact, what people have seen in Tibet is that mobs attacked the people. They also burned shops and cars and broke into Chinese embassies overseas in the name of peaceful demonstrations.
Some monks even deliberately maimed each other, and then took photographs in order to make a sensation in the world.
Many politicians in the West have called on the Chinese government to show restraint in Tibet. But none have called for Tibetans to stop beating settlers from other parts of China.
"Although the Dalai Lama does not demand independence, the existence of the government in exile is hard to understand.
"The radical supporters of the Dalai Lama should be responsible for jeopardizing the dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama," Gennady Chufrin, deputy director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of Russian Academy of Sciences, said.
In recent years, the central government of China has invested enormous resources to the development of the Tibet autonomous region. Since 2002, China has initiated negotiations with representatives of the Dalai Lama.
The riots took place in the light of the upcoming Olympics in August in Beijing.
Some observers believe that the violent protests in Tibet was apparently provoked by someone in order to create animosity between different ethnic groups in China and to bring worldwide attention to these issues as the Beijing Olympic Games approaches.
But experts believe that the situation in Tibet is unlikely to run out of control and the Chinese central government will be able to find a way to address the issue in the light of the approaching Olympics.
As for outside observers, they should guard against drawing hasty conclusions and reactions to what is happening in Tibet, so as not to complicate the situation and cause interethnic confrontation in China.
No democratic credentials
The Dalai Lama has neither the democratic credentials nor efforts to improve the lives of the Tibetan people, according to a letter to the editor published in the South African newspaper Business Day.
It is strange how support for the Dalai Lama is part of the package of beliefs that is regarded as "correct".
Befor liberation, Tibet was a backward feudal region with its people enslaved. The Chinese government has been responsible for bringing more people out of poverty in the shortest period of time that has ever been achieved, and has continued the development of Tibet.
Those who use the unworldly Tibetan people to further their own agenda have orchestrated the current unrest to coincide with the Olympic Games, knowing they can rely on Hollywood personalities and Western institutions to make Tibet this year's fashionable cause, the letter said.
(China Daily 03/28/2008 page9)