He has vivid memories of the first time he saw Tibetans as a child.
Fleeing the failed uprising in 1959 by the region's feudalistic upper class, they trod along a pilgrim route, sleeping in tents pitched at the sides of the road.
Foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations visit the 50th Anniversary of Democratic Reforms in Tibet exhibition in Beijing, China, on March 25, 2009. [Xinhua photo]
Now the Nepalese Ambassador to China, Tanka Prasad Karki recalled watching the refugees on their way to India, suffering from poverty and miserable living conditions.
"We know exactly what has been done in Tibet," Karki, now 54, told China Daily Wednesday at an ongoing exhibition on the 50th anniversary of Tibet's Democratic Reform. "Sometimes the Western media and Western people are not seeing Tibet in the process of development."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited more than 150 diplomats, ambassadors and representatives of international organizations to the exhibition.
Tibet, 50 years on from the abolition of slavery, is set to celebrate its first Serfs' Emancipation Day this Saturday.
As Tibet's immediate neighbor and the only country with a consulate in the region, Nepal has perhaps the best perspective on the ways in which "Tibet has undergone a massive transformation for the better" since 1959, Karki said.
"Instead, Westerners are seeing Tibet according to their own visions, sitting in their homes."
The Dalai Lama, Old Tibet's supreme leader, accused Beijing of conducting a "cultural genocide" in the autonomous region in a speech on March 10, precisely half a century after the "uprising" that drove him to a "government-in-exile" in Dharamshala, India.
But the diplomats argue otherwise. Columbian Ambassador Guillermo R. Velez Londono reminded reporters yesterday that it is crucial to understand that "Tibet is a part of China and has to develop along with the rest of China".
Viorel Isticioaia-Budura, Romanian ambassador to China, cited his experience in witnessing religious debates in temples in Lhasa, Tibet's capital, as an example of "free and alive" religious traditions in the region.
Isticioaia-Budura said that in the contemporary world no one can "survive and thrive in isolation" any more. Tibet, he added, is no different.
"You cannot simply close up and stay as a natural-historical reserve of any sort any more these days," he said. "Look at the Chinese mainland. Opening changed everything."
Looking back, Isticioaia-Budura said Tibetans "lost the things that are meant to be lost. They got free from a very backward and undeveloped regime ... Tibet's old system is incompatible with our values and views in the current world."
"What they gained is a modern way of life, and education, which will help them in answering the question: how much do they have to lose and how much do they have to keep? This is a choice for everyone in today's world," he said.