The third time in Tibet, Byron Leonel Olayo, a Guatemalan, was deeply impressed by not only the increasing beauty of this "roof of the world" but also the dramatic changes taking place in this mysterious land.
"When I first came in 1994, transportation is even not an easy thing, but today you feel very convenient with a lot more and broader roads," said Byron, now a student of the Tibet University.
Five years ago, strongly attracted by the unique culture of this special land, Byron came up with the idea of studying the Tibetan language in Lhasa with his American wife Kay. He realized his dream last March.
Many foreign students in the Tibet University have similar experiences with Byron. According to university officials, the number of foreign students here has totaled 74, the record number in recent years.
Some students have even chosen to remain in Tibet after graduation and John Nice, a German now running a business company in Lhasa after graduation from the Tibet University in 1995, is one of them.
"Since more and more foreign visitors come to Tibet, my company, therefore, mainly deals with the production and sale of local craftwork, the best choice as a tourist souvenir," said Nice.
Statistics show that foreign visitors to Tibet reached 1.36 million in 2000, up 37 percent year on year.
"The investing environment here is getting increasingly better and the market potential is promising," said John, who now has 24 employees and recently added another 360,000 US dollars of investment to the company.
Having brought his wife and two sons also to Lhasa last year, John is now planning to open up another company dealing in computer sales and solar energy equipment mainly. Apart from business people like Nice, those choosing to stay also include poverty-relief experts, doctors, teachers, natural reserve advisors and other professionals.
With its unique scenery and culture, Tibet is also attracting a large number of government delegations every year. According to Soinam, director of the foreign affairs office of Tibet, the region received a record number of foreign visitors last year, including more than 600 foreign government officials and journalists and over 1,000 foreign experts.
Garry Nehl, deputy speaker of the Australian House of Representatives who visited Tibet three times, was deeply impressed by the rapid progress in infrastructure and the considerable improvement in local people's living standard. “Unparalleled" changes have taken place in this plateau since the late 1950s, said Nehl.
N. Ram, editor of India's "Frontline," gave a full account of Tibet in a cover story he wrote for the magazine after his Tibet tour, in which he revealed to his readers the economy, population, religious freedom and human rights situation in the region.
In his article, Ram pointed out that Tibet is witnessing an economic boom and significant progress in all sectors, thanks to the preferential policies mapped out by the Chinese government.
The article noted that the Tibetans enjoy considerable religious freedom, referring to the fact that the Chinese governments at all levels, have injected funds to protect cultural relics and to collect, compile and publish famous Buddhist scriptures and literary works.
Tullaya Sirikulpipatana, who led a Thai press delegation to Tibet, refuted rumors on the Tibet issue.
"Through our visit to Tibet, we found it is totally different from the report that 'Tibet is a terrible place without freedom and human rights'," he said. "What we have seen is a beautiful Tibet."
(People’s Daily 08/01/2001)