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Railway 'Positive for Tibetan Culture'
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The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is playing a "positive role" in helping preserve and develop Tibetan culture, a noted Tibetologist said yesterday in Beijing.


The rail line, which opened on July 1 and links Lhasa with the rest of China, has prompted the Tibet Autonomous Region to better protect traditional culture so as to further attract tourists, Secretary-General of the China Tibetology Research Center Lhaba Puncog said.


Speaking at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office yesterday, Puncog said a two-day China Tibetan Culture Forum, due to open in Beijing today, will arrange for participants to take a Lhasa-bound train to experience Tibetan culture at first hand.


Thanks partly to the railway, at least 913,000 travelers visited Tibet in July and August, a jump of 54 per cent year-on-year, generating tourism revenue of 940 million yuan (US$119 million), an increase of 48.6 per cent, according to Puncog.


"What the tourists come to Tibet for is the natural scenery and unique ethnic cultural traditions," Puncog said. "This has given an incentive to local people and government to attach more importance to protecting the plateau environment and culture."


Puncog said the surge in the number of domestic and foreign travelers offered more chances for Tibetans to get to know the outside world, which leads to an interaction between local people and those from elsewhere.


By absorbing information and culture from various sources, Tibetan people will develop their own culture on the basis of maintaining and maximizing their traditions, he said.


The thriving tourism, catering and telecommunications sectors following the operation of the railway has meant more work opportunities and income growth for Tibetans, he added.


Puncog also said the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple and the Sagya Monastery are undergoing a new round of maintenance thanks to at least 300 million yuan (US$38 million) of aid from the central government.


Sita, vice-president of the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture, yesterday said more than 70 per cent of books in Tibet were published in Tibetan language.


At least 120 representatives from Australia, Canada, Germany, India and the United States are expected to participate in the China Tibetan Culture Forum, which is sponsored by Sita's association.


A Tibetan culture exhibition will also open today at the Capital Museum, running through October 22.


(China Daily October 10, 2006)


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