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Tibet in Best Period for Human Rights

The Dalai Lama's recent visit to Mongolia is further evidence that he intends to spread his separatist views in the international arena under the cloak of religion, a delegate attending the ongoing 16th Party congress said.

The Dalai Lama can never represent the Tibetan people and he has not done anything beneficial for Tibet, said Legqog, who is also chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region government, in an exclusive interview.

The Dalai Lama paid a visit to Mongolia last week.

Since he fled Tibet in 1959, the Dalai Lama has never stopped engaging in activities aimed at splitting China, Legqog said.

But even the Dalai Lama could not deny Tibet's stunning achievements, the official said.

Since the Fourth Session of the 13th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1989, Tibet, as well as China as a whole, has witnessed spectacular economic development, the improvement of people's living conditions and social advancement, said Legqog.

"Knowing that his separatist stance has no place in the world today where peace and development prevail, the Dalai Lama now adopts a new strategy of playing down separatist sentiments while trumpeting the highest degree of autonomy of the so-called greater Tibet','' he said.

Such a claim is simply another form of his separatist stance, Legqog pointed out.

He said the Dalai Lama's concept of "greater Tibet,'' which includes other areas inside the Chinese territory inhabited by Tibetans, has never been formed in history.

Ever since the feudal serfdom system was overthrown in Tibet in 1959, spectacular changes have taken place in Tibet and the Tibetan people have lived a life they could never have previously dreamed of, the official said. This is especially true in the past 13 years.

The achievements prove that Tibet has enjoyed its best period of progressing human rights over the past 50 years, the official said.

The central government has always given the strongest backing to Tibet by calling on all regions of the country to provide financial resources, materials and manpower, he said.

A national working conference on Tibet last year designed a total of 117 projects to be launched in the region before 2006.

According to the official, planned investment from the central government totaled 31.2 billion yuan (US$3.76 billion). An additional 6 billion yuan (US$722 million) will fund projects covering such areas as infrastructure, energy, telecommunications and transportation.

Gross domestic product in Tibet grew by 12.8 percent last year -- much higher than the national average of 7.3 percent.

Per capita disposable income in urban areas reached 7,717 yuan (US$929.6) which is well above the national average of 6,860 yuan (US$828.5) in 2001, he said.

If the present-day Tibet is a picture of harmony and prosperity, the pre-liberation Tibet was one of hardship for Tibetan people, who were repressed by the rule of feudal Buddhist monks and nobles.

Before 1959, the illiteracy rate in Tibet was a shocking 98 percent and only 2 percent of children of school age, who were nearly all the offspring of nobles, attended classes.

Legqog said the region is currently home to 1,010 schools ranging from colleges to elementary schools with a total enrolment of 360,000 pupils. A total of 87.2 percent of children of school age have been enrolled for class.

The region has basically solved the task of providing food and clothing for its people and a considerable number of Tibetans now live a well-off life, the official said.

He also expressed his anger at unwarranted accusations made by some Westerners and the Dalai Lama on human rights conditions in Tibet. He claimed they were totally groundless.

Speaking on the future development of Tibet, the official said he is confident the future of Tibet will be a bright one.

The regional government and the Tibetan people will spare no efforts to carry forward the spirit of General Secretary Jiang Zemin's report delivered at the opening session of the Party congress on Friday, Legqog said.

The important idea of building a well-off society in the next 20 years and the thought of the "Three Representatives'' are sure to guide Tibet to even greater success in the future, he concluded.

(China Daily November 13, 2002)