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Chinese envoy paints rosy picture of Tibet

world Updated: Jul 24, 2011 16:27 IST
Utpal Parashar

Newly appointed Chinese ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan seems to be in a hurry to showcase a picture of Tibet that’s contrary to popular perception across the globe.

In an op-ed article titled ‘Shining Tibet’ that appeared in Sunday’s Republica, a mainstream English daily published from Kathmandu, Houlan highlights historic achievements witnessed in Tibet.

On the 60th anniversary year of China’s “peaceful liberation” of Tibet, the Chinese envoy says how the region leapt from a society of “feudal serfdom to one of socialism and from a state of isolation, poverty and backwardness to one of opening, prosperity and civilization.”

The article comes at a time when there are fresh reports of many Tibetans being detained in Lhasa in connection with the visit of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to the region earlier this week.

Houlan mentions how the former serfs and slaves have become masters of the country and society and enjoy equal rights to participate in administration of state, regional and ethnic affairs.

He writes how the stagnating economy of Tibet prior to 1951 leapfrogged to witness a 112-fold increase in GDP to 50 billion yuan in 2010 and how living conditions have improved with access to comfortable housing, refrigerators, colour TVs, computers and cars.

Sharp decrease of illiteracy rate with establishment of a modern educational system, setting up of 1350 medical institutions and increase in population from one million in 1951 to over 3 million (90 pc Tibetans) find mention.

Houlan also writes how the Chinese government gave religious freedom to Tibetans and protected and developed traditional culture. “All religions, all religious sects are equal in Tibet…People are free to carry out traditional religious activities in temples,” he wrote.

Fifthly, he highlights how ecological conservation and environment protection measures undertaken over the years have made Tibet a pollution-free region.

“The past 60 years have witnessed earth-shaking changes and profound development in Tibet that would normally need a millennium…We have every reason to believe that the Tibet Autonomous Region will have a better and more harmonious future,” he concludes.

Since taking up his present assignment last month, Houlan has been busy touring the country and pressurizing the Nepal government to take sterner measures against Tibetan refugees in the Himalayan nation engaged in anti-China activities.

Houlan’s report contrasts with a recent report by International Campaign for Tibet, a US-based organization which mentions how China’s 12th Five Year Plan (2011-15) is focused on transforming mobile, flexible and nomadic land use in Tibet to an urbanized, industrialized and centralized one.