The reasons why some Western media produced distorted reports about the March riots in Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, has come in for much debate in China. Turning a blind eye to the brutality of the mob, who killed 18 civilians and one police officer, including an eight-month-old baby boy who was burnt to death with his parents in Dagze County on March 16, rioters have been described by some newspapers, broadcasts and websites in the West as being "peaceful protesters."
Biased reporting is usually the outcome of ignorance. The simple way to get the truth is by visiting Tibet, talking to local people and listening to what they have to say.
Before the serfdom system was abolished in Tibet in the early 1950s, the concept of "citizen" was non-existent in the region ruled by the Dalai Lama. At that time, serfs had no belongings. They were subject to cruel exploitations and were randomly traded by their owners.
The Tibetan people began to actively participate in state and local affairs only after the regional autonomy was inaugurated there in 1965. From then on, Tibet has made remarkable headway in all aspects. In 2007, Tibet's gross domestic product (GDP) reached 34.2 billion yuan (about $4.9 billion), compared with 327 million yuan in 1965. For the same period, the region's per-capita GDP jumped to 12,000 yuan (nearly $1,700) from 241 yuan. Local people's life expectancy has almost doubled in the past half a century, rising from 35.5 years old to 67 years old.
The Tibetans enjoy full religious freedom. More than 1,700 religious sites in Tibet are all well preserved. Since 1979, the government has invested more than 1.1 billion yuan (about $154 million) in renovating and rebuilding local monasteries. The renovation of the Potala Palace, one of the most sacred sites of the Tibetan Buddhism in Lhasa, from 1989 to 1994 alone, cost more than 55 million yuan ($7 million then). Between 2006 and 2010, another 570 million yuan will be earmarked to renovate 10 more cultural heritage sites, including the Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa.
At the same time, the Tibetan culture has thrived. There are currently 161 cultural heritage sites throughout Tibet, including 35 under state-level protection. China has also allocated huge money to the collection and publication of ancient cultural works, such as the Tibetan epic Gesar and the Tibetan Buddhism classics The Tripitaka.
It's no surprise that the Dalai Lama, who fled to live in exile in India following a failed armed rebellion in 1959, refuses to acknowledge the abovementioned achievements. In a bid to cover up his coterie's attempts to split Tibet from China, he has always been posing as the only guard of the Tibetan people's rights and interests and their culture, using a variety of lies.
The Dalai Lama clique's secessionist activities are doomed to fail. This is not only because Tibet has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times, but a majority of the Tibetan people firmly believe that "Tibet independence" will only ruin their peaceful and increasingly prosperous life.
Moreover, the many Western media critical of China should also not sidestep the question: How would your government respond when its people are suffering from killings, beatings, looting and arson as what took place in Lhasa?