WASHINGTON -- A leading Chinese scholar on Tibet on Tuesday rebuffed Western criticism over China's Tibet policy, saying that the unique culture and environment in Tibet have been well protected due to enormous efforts by the central government of China and its people in the past 50 years.
"The Chinese government has made enormous efforts to promote the development in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. For every 100 RMB (yuan) in the local budget of the autonomous region, 93 yuan or 93 percent comes from the central government and other sister provinces or autonomous regions," Hao Shiyuan, director of Tibet Historical and Culture Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said at a symposia held here.
Hao, who is also director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Study of CASS, heads a delegation of Chinese scholars on Tibet on a visit to the United States.
Although it is a great challenge to strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection, Hao said, the central government has always made environmental protection its top priority in promoting development in Tibet.
For example, in order to protect the environment, people need to preserve local biological diversity. The most effective way to protect diversity is to set up natural reserves or natural protection areas, he said.
According to the professor, natural reserves account for 15 percent of China's land territory, higher than the average international level of 10 percent. The ratio in Tibet, which boosts more than 40 various natural reserves, is about 30 percent, much higher than the national level.
In order to protect the environment in Tibet, he added, the central government has also been encouraging the development of environment-friendly industries such as tourism in the autonomous region. Thanks to these efforts, he noted, Tibet ranks as no. 1 in terms of ecological indexes used to measure the quality of environment across the country.
"So it is totally groundless for Western countries to attack China on this issue," the scholar said.
Talking about some Western countries' blind coziness with the Dalai Lama, the professor said it seems that these countries are suffering from "collective amnesia" on what Tibet used to be under Dalai's theocratic rule.
It is mostly through works or memoirs of some Western explorers who ventured into Tibet in early years that the world gradually gets to know the cruelty of the serfdom in Tibet which existed there until the democratic reforms in 1959, Hao said.
The "collective amnemia" and bias of some Western countries on Tibet-related issues are a reflection of outdated Cold War mentality, Hao said.
The symposia, held in downtown Washington D.C., was attended by some prominent overseas Chinese figures, and some Chinese students studying in the United States.