Shattering a Western myth
For centuries, Tibet has fascinated and inspired many fantasy novels and stories. Its remoteness and the exotic beauty of Buddhism fuel the Western imagination. But this myth should not obscure the reality, two Europeans said in an article.
Serge Pairoux, secretary-general of the Belgium-China Cultural Center, and Henri Lederhandler, vice-chairman of the Belgium-China Economic and Commercial Council, recalled Tibet's history.
Before 1949, serfdom was considered legal and the theocracy tried to preserve their privilege through conspiracies and intrigues. The slaves could be sold, bought, exchanged, and used as oxen and horses.
In 1950, the People's Liberation Army, which had just liberated most of the country after having helped to oust the Japanese occupiers, initiated a series of reforms, the most important of which was the abolition of serfdom. Hundreds of thousands of slaves became "human beings" again.
In the 1980s enormous effort was made to recover the damages done during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976). The monasteries were reconstructed and monks returned.
A boost was given to economic development. Tibet was connected to the outside world thanks to a railway line that links Lhasa with inland and allows the import and export of vital goods.
Life expectancy has increased by more than 10 years in a few years. Access to health care is becoming more widespread. New schools and higher educational institutions are open. Significant investments are being made in the region to modernize and integrate Tibet's economy throughout the country.
In addition, the emphasis is on protection of the environment through the establishment of nature reserves and the use of renewable energy sources. In short, all the economic indicators have shown the living standard of Tibetans has never been as high as today.
Many problems remain to be resolved in Tibet as in the rest of China, both in the economic and cultural fields. But according to the IMF and the World Bank, China has managed to pull 350 million people out of poverty in 20 years, which included hundreds of thousands of Tibetans.
The events currently taking place in Tibet and some other countries are clearly initiated by the Dalai Lama and his immediate entourage. Through the biased media coverage, they created disorder in international public opinion by taking hostage the Beijing Olympic Games and threatening stability in the region. This is unacceptable.
It is also unacceptable that once again those "eloquent speakers" set themselves up as judges and give lessons to China.