Website Gives Better Understanding of Tibet
   2011-05-18 10:54:48    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Zhang
News Commentary by Tom McGregor

In regards to political debates swirling over the Tibet Autonomous Region, many people from outside of China haven't really heard Beijing tell its side of the story. Accordingly, China Tibet Online, www.tibet.cn, provides much-needed and refreshing historical, political and cultural information on Tibet, which hasn't been tainted by the Dalai Lama's assertions.

Actually Tibetans have enjoyed numerous benefits since its liberation sixty years ago. Beijing has no intentions of destroying Tibet's unique heritage, despite the Dalai Lama's allegations that China seeks to root out Tibet's special cultural identity.

But if Beijing is bent on tyrannically ruling over Tibetans, then why would the central government spend huge sums of cash (hundreds of billions of Yuan) to improve conditions in the area.? What exactly has China done to protect Tibetan customs?

According to China Tibet Online, "the Tibetan language has been popularized among all schools in Tibet, ending the era when serfs and slaves, taking up 95% of the population in old Tibet, had no right to learn the Tibetan language. The state also carried out the policy of providing free food, lodging for children of Tibetan farmers and herdsmen, making Tibet the first region in China to realize free compulsory education. The state has specially established units for cultural relics protection at all levels ... It has also formulated many laws and regulations on cultural protection."

The Dalai Lama and his proponents, including Hollywood movie stars: Richard Gere, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, never mention these facts when embarking on publicity stunts to seek support from the Western media, the public and human rights organizations. The Dalai Lama even goes one step further by making up conspiracy theories that Beijing wishes to eliminate Buddhism from Tibet.

Yet, China Tibet Online reveals that the Chinese government has been actively rebuilding Buddhist monasteries and other places of worship in the Tibet autonomous Region. The 'Religion' site of this website discloses details about current renovations, such as six monasteries of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism that are presently being restored.

Tibetan Buddhists can practice their faith openly. The China Daily posted a web video last April showing Tibetan Buddhists bowing and praying to Buddha. One Tibetan man told a reporter that he circles the Bakhor Bazaar in Lhasa while bowing repeatedly on a daily basis, which takes four hours to accomplish each time.

Tibetan Buddhists are encouraged to participate in a ritual walk, which is "a religious activity in Tibet with believers praying by special routes in Lhasa, capital city of Tibet...," according to China Tibet Online.

The mere fact that the Chinese-state-sponsored media has publicized these rituals conflicts with the Dalai Lama's assertions that Beijing is wiping out spirituality from the Tibet Autonomous Region. As a matter of fact, China Tibet Online provides helpful tips about following proper decorum when visiting a Tibetan Buddhist temple, such as not making too much noise in front of the presence of a Buddhist statue.

While respecting Buddhism, the Chinese government has increased its investments of the region. Beijing has just pledged to spend 26 billion Yuan on infrastructure projects for this year alone. On an economic scale, Tibetans have witnessed per capita income of the region's rural poor nearly double from 2,078 Yuan in 2005 to 4,138.71 Yuan in 2010.

The Chinese government should be commended for its generosity to the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as granting greater rights and privileges to Tibetans. A Han Chinese told me, "sometimes, I wish I was born a Tibetan. They get so many more rights than what I can enjoy as a Han..."

He's not alone in expressing these sentiments. Many Han Chinese have expressed surprise that Beijing has offered so many benefits to Tibetans, but many overseas Tibetans refuse to show appropriate gratitude in return. Some speculate that some Tibetans make false claims about human rights abuses so they can garner sympathy from the world, while also improve their ability to negotiate with the central government to receive more benefits. Playing the victim card serves a useful purpose, whether you are a true victim or not.

However, the Dalai Lama fails to mention the good deeds China has done for the Tibet Autonomous Region. That's because facts would destroy his argument that liberated Tibetans live in a "hell on earth" that he so often claims. But as a demagogue and separatist leader, the Dalai Lama doesn't want the truth to stop him from enflaming outrage from the Western public against China. Misrepresenting China seems to be a habit he just won't change. Perhaps, now is the time for Beijing to counteract the Dalai Lama's public relations' scheme by utilizing facts and logic to tell its side of the story on Tibet to the world.

Tommcgregor@cri.com.cn

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