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'Sabotage' sets back Tibet development: Party chief
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The Communist Party chief of China's Tibet Autonomous Region said Thursday that Tibet could have developed faster without "sabotage" by supporters of the Dalai Lama.

Zhang Qingli, secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China, told reporters, "It's the current Tibet that allows Tibetans to enjoy the fruits of the reform and opening up and the feeling of being their own masters."

Zhang said he was confident that "the next five years would be one of the Tibet's best development periods."

He said the country's only roadless county, Medog, would "bid farewell to the no-road days" in 2010, and electricity would cover all counties by 2015.

He said the regional government had attached great importance to cultural protection. "No dynasty or period in history could invest such a large amount to preserve local culture and maintain Buddhist temples.

"People with biased opinions are surprised to see that," he said. All cultural relics would be maintained so that the Tibetan culture could be passed on. He said Tibetans were free to use either the Tibetan language or Chinese.

"When the local legislature and political advisory body convened their annual meetings, both languages were used, with the Tibetan language put ahead of Chinese," Zhang said.

"Local people can fully exercise their autonomous rights," he said.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the democratic reform of the Tibet Autonomous Region. On March 10, 1959, the Dalai Lama and his supporters in Tibetan upper ruling class staged an armed rebellion against the central government with assistance from some Western powers, which was swiftly quelled by the People's Liberation Army.

(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2009)

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