An eight-month bicycle ride from France to Cambodia gave 74-year-old Paul Dubrule a chance to see a different Tibet from what he had learnt in France.
Paul Dubrule, chairman and founder of the leading
multinational hotel group Accor Group
"Compared with those talking about Tibet in the French media but never setting foot in the region, I think I have more things to tell," Dubrule, chairman and founder of the multinational hotel group Accor Group, said over the weekend.
In 2002, Dubrule, then 68, made a rode his bike 15,000 kms from his home at Fontainebleau to Siem Reap, Cambodia, during which he rode from Ngari in west Tibet to Qamdo in its east.
"Before arriving in Tibet, I thought local people were under repression of the central government as many other Westerners (thought)," he said.
But, during the tour, he saw schools, hospitals, power plants, airports, and especially highways.
"I saw many roads under construction," he said. "Along my way, I met many local people. Their life was not as good as in France but I found they were benefiting from the economic development.
"In Tibet, I found that people would like to have the region modernized rather than maintaining old lifestyles simply for tourists," he said.
He did not agree with the Dalai Lama's comments that economic development in Tibet was causing a disappearance of traditional culture.
"If a culture cannot move forwards with economic and social development, it will end up in the museum instead of blessing its people.
"Should anyone refuse development, schools and hospitals in the name of protecting culture and religion?
"Although I have never met the Dalai Lama, I would like to tell him that a country should protect the religious belief of its people but religions should not be a tool for people to turn against their country," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency April 21, 2008)