A group of Chinese Tibetologists who are touring Europe for exchange of views expressed their frustration on Thursday at the difficulty in communication with their Western colleagues and politicians.
"I find that people in Europe pay much attention to the Tibet issue, but are generally poor in knowledge of today's Tibet – the society, the economy, the culture and religious freedom," head of the delegation, Ciwang Junmei, told reporters.
"In our conversations, our efforts were often being taken as propaganda even when we resorted to our personal experiences to make a point," said Ciwang, former president of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences.
He said he got this impression from German press reports of their activities in Germany.
Ma Lin, a Tibetologist from Qinghai province, said Western politicians, citizens and researchers, on the one hand, admit that they know little about the Tibet issue. But on the other hand, they are showing a lot of sympathy to the Dalai Lama and his so-called government in exile. "The sympathy as well as their attention to Tibet, according to my observation, comes from media reports in the West," he said.
Ciwang, who himself is ethnic Tibetan, said prejudices in the West have made development achievements in Tibet invisible.
"The great changes in Tibet since the peaceful liberation are something that the world needs to know," he said.
In a meeting with members of the European Parliament on Thursday morning, the Tibetologists were asked why the Dalai Lama is still branded as a separatist while he has repeatedly said he is seeking autonomy of Tibet, not independence.
Zha Luo, a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Dalai Lama's claim of autonomy for Tibet was well received across the world. However, he said, very few people care to look into the nature of his proposals.
The Dalai Lama has demanded the withdrawal of Chinese troops from Tibetan-populated areas and the relocation of other ethnic groups, which have been living there for hundreds of years. He also asks for rights to establish representatives in foreign countries.
These proposals are threats to China's sovereignty, said the researcher.
Besides, the Dalai Lama has made different proposals on different occasions, he said. Therefore, it is difficult to know his real intentions.
On dialogues between the Dalai Lama's representatives and the Chinese central government, Zha said the Dalai Lama appears to be more interested in fanning up international pressure on China than in talking seriously with the central government of China.
(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2008)