Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Thomas Mann introduced Ms Claude Levenson, who had already visited the European Parliament and spoken to the Tibet Intergroup in 2000. She was the first Person to write an official biography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in French. She is a journalist and writes regularly in "Le Monde" and other newspapers.
Mrs Levenson said that we do not hear a great deal about Tibet in the media, and also that journalists can only practice their profession with difficulty in China today; one can obtain permission to visit Tibet, but with a guide and/or interpreter at all times. She herself had been to Tibet many times, but last September was banned from entering China for five years. She was not even informed through diplomatic sources.
When she first went to Lhassa in 1984 there were 50,0000 Tibetans living there and about 2 - 3,000 Chinese. When she returned last year it was completely different - everyone was Chinese, except for a small Tibetan community living in the Jokhang area. There is restriction on building. Historical buildings had been destroyed, even those on World Heritage sites. 6,000 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Only a handful have been rebuilt for tourist purposes.
According to Chinese theory, Tibet has been part of China for many centuries, but this is open to interpretation. Tibet has in fact always strived to retain its independence. Mrs Levenson had recently met His Holiness and talked about Tibet. His Holiness recognises that many Tibetans are in favour of independence, although some look for a happy medium.
The train between Beijing and Lahssa brings in 5 - 6,000 migrants every year (not tourists). Those Chinese who arrive set up shops in Lhassa and other parts of Tibet. The idea of the railway came from Mao Tse Tung, who wanted to bring Tibet under the Chinese yoke. China needs natural resources and is expanding exploitation in Tibet for its mineral and other resources.
The European Parliament has already adopted 20 Resolutions on the Tibetan issue, but the Chinese seem to ignore them. It is hight time to remind China of the historical truth. Den Xiao Ping said that we shoul "seek the truth in facts".