"Hell on earth" suits perfectly the old Tibet, a Tibet official said here Friday, refuting the Dalai Lama's speech made 50 years after he went into exile.
Over the past 50 years, the Dalai Lama has made it a routine to deliver a speech on the so-called "uprising" day, or, as described by the Chinese government, the day marking his failed armed rebellion.
Qiangba Puncog (C), deputy to the Second Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) from southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, receives interview prior to the third plenary meeting of the Second Session of the 11th NPC held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 10, 2009. [Xinhua Photo]
On March 10 this year, the "simple Buddhist monk", who has never been to Tibet since 1959, said the Chinese government have carried out a series of "repressive and violent" campaigns over the years and Tibetans were "literally experienced hell on earth."
"If 'hell on earth' was used to describe the old Tibet, it would be most appropriate," Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet regional government, told Xinhua.
"The Dalai Lama is trying to turn black into white in an attempt to mislead the public," he said.
Qiangba, who was born to an impoverished Tibetan family 62 years ago, said "the old Tibet, which was under the control of the Dalai Lama, was a feudal serfdom darker and more undeveloped than the middle ages in Europe."
The official said Tibet has enjoyed significant development over the past 5 decades and "those who are unbiased or have been to Tibet would be well aware of that."
Although some people claimed before 1959, ordinary Tibetan people could enjoy milk tea as they wished and a great deal of meat and vegetables, American Tibetologist A. Tom Grunfeld said after a 1940 survey conducted in eastern Tibet that "there is no evidence to support the picture of Tibet as a Utopian Shangrila."
The survey found that 38 percent of Tibetan families never had tea to drink, 51 percent could not afford butter and 75 percent sometimes had to eat weeds boiled with ox bones and oat or bean flour.
In his speech, the Dalai Lama defended his armed rebellion, saying that it was because of the Communist Party of China's trial of democratic reform that forced Tibetans to launch a "peaceful uprising."
Qiangba refuted the Dalai Lama's claim, saying that the essential cause of the rebellion was because the upper ruling class of the Dalai Lama group realized that the democratic reform, which was imperative under the situation, would lead to the end of feudal serfdom and the emancipation of serfs.
"The democratic reform, which was carried out in places outside Tibet then, put an end to the rule and privileges of the three major feudal lords (government officials, monasteries and nobles) there," Qiangba said.
"The reform put the feudal lords in Tibet in panic. Under that situation, they chose to launch an armed rebellion," said he.
Feudal serfdom was overthrown in most countries in the 19th centuries but the system remained in Tibet till the mid 20th century.
"The democratic reform carried out by the Communist Party of China aimed to free the serfs and slaves in Tibet," said Qiangba, also a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC).
Since the democratic reform, Tibet has undergone significant changes. Its GDP grew from 174 million yuan (25.6 million U.S. dollars) in 1959 to 39.591 billion yuan last year.
Looking back into history, Qiangba said Tibet did experience twists in its development after 1959, such as the cultural revolution (1966-1976) and communes.
But Qiangba said those problems happened at a special stage in the Chinese history and affected the whole country. "They were not problems only with Tibet," he said.
A POLITICIAN lN MONK'S ROBE
In the March 10 speech, the Dalai Lama said he has three commitments as a human being, "the promotion of human values," "the promotion of inter-religious harmony" and "the issue of Tibet."
"No one opposes the promotion of human values and inter-religious harmony. The Communist Party of China is also working for it," Qiangba said.
Promoting religious harmony is the policy of the Party and the country, Qiangba said.
Most of the people of the Tibetan, Moinba, Lhoba and Naxi ethnic groups believe in Tibetan Buddhism, while others believe in Islam and Catholicism.
"There have been no religious conflicts in Tibet and those religions coexisted harmoniously," he said.
The official said it was the Dalai Lama who harmed the harmony between different religious sects by telling Buddhists to worship one and not to worship another.
Meanwhile, the official said the Dalai Lama is least qualified to talk about human rights.
"The darkest period in Tibet in terms of human rights was the time when he was in power," he said.
As for Dalai Lama's third commitment, Qingba said the so-called "issue of Tibet" was coined by the Dalai Lama group and some countries out of the concern of their own interests.
"They are playing up the 'issue of Tibet' to make their separatist activity an international issue and draw criticism to China from those who are unaware of the truth," he said.
Qiangba said the Dalai Lama has been trying to split China and instigate violence under the aureole of "human rights" and "democracy."
"The Dalai Lama is a politician in monk's robe. He is a key obstacle of Tibet's development," he said.
As for Dalai Lama's claim of "middle way", "the greater Tibet" and "high degree of autonomy," Qiangba said those are meant for "gradual or covert Tibet independence."
"Since the title of the Dalai Lama was confirmed, the Dalai Lama had never effectively ruled other Tibetan polulated areas (outside Tibet)," he said.
He said Dalai Lama's claim to set up a so-called "greater Tibet" on one fourth of China's territory did not exist in history, nor does it have an actual ground.
(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2009)