BEIJING: A prominent Indian journalist on Wednesday rejected “Tibetan independence propaganda”, saying the region’s economic growth was good and the atmosphere was “relaxed”.
“The problems are largely in the minds of some sections abroad, in ‘make-believe Tibet’, and in the propaganda of the pro-independence movement of the Dalai Lama,” N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, a leading English language Indian daily, told Xinhua on Wednesday.
Mr. Ram’s comments came after he concluded a three-day visit to southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region earlier this week. It was his third visit to Tibet since 2000.
“People always asked why I went to Tibet again and again,” said Mr. Ram, attributing the visits to his intention to “do a reality check.”
Mr. Ram described how the Dalai Lama and “the so-called Tibetan government-in-exile” were active in India and some other countries claiming Tibetans were being reduced to a minority by the Han people and proclaiming a “Greater Tibet” with a population of six million.
Mr. Ram has travelled to various parts of the region, from the capital city of Lhasa to underdeveloped villages. He has seen schools, monasteries, orphanages and factories.
“The reality is that Tibet is on the road of rapid economic development and the atmosphere there is relaxed, not tense at all,” he said.
“Tibet is remote for ordinary Chinese. You must be a fool to believe that Tibetans are being made a minority,” Mr. Ram commented.
The total population of the region hit 2.84 million in 2007, with Tibetans accounting for 92 per cent according to official figures.
Mr. Ram observed that the problem facing Tibet was the economic slowdown as the global financial crisis took its toll on the region. “But the growth rate of Tibet is still good, more than 10 per cent per year, much higher than other parts of the world.”
Mr. Ram’s latest visit coincided with the run-up to the Tibetan New Year. “We witnessed fewer people in work places as they went back home to celebrate the New Year,” he noted. He added that there was no sign of strain or suppression there as people were filled with excitement and the atmosphere was festive. “There were plenty of signs of prosperity on my long drive from Lhasa to Nyingchi,” said Mr. Ram.
On the region’s move to commemorate the end of feudal serfdom every year on March 28 — the day the Chinese government dissolved the aristocratic local government of Tibet and freed more than one million serfs in 1959 — he said: “It is a good decision” adding that “there were serf systems in many countries, but it was worse in Tibet”.
“The contrast between the old and the new is very powerful, demonstrating what the Chinese government and the system have done for Tibet.” — Xinhua