Tibet Economic Forum, Debating Monks and Lhasa River

Tibet Day 4:



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On Thursday morning , I received a call from Li Xiaojun , Director for Tibet Affairs of the State Council Information Office , China. He invited me to take a front row seat both at the official photography session and at the opening of the Forum on the Development of Tibet, China. I told Li it was an honour for Sri Lanka. It was very clear that Li and China were extending the hand of true friendship not only to me but, to Sri Lanka. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is highly respected and well known in China. They spoke of him with affection as a true friend of the country. In the same way I felt sad how certain politicians in Sri Lanka tries to undermine China. They must understand that we in Sri Lanka need unconditional friends like China. Never ever undermine the dragon. 


Chief guest at the opening ceremony was Liu Qiabao, Secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee, Member of the Politbureau of the Communist Party of China and the Minister of the Department of Publicity Communist Party of China a powerful man in China. The Forum was chaired by Ms Cui Yuing , Vice Minister of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China who too was powerful within the system but, humble. Unlike in Sri Lanka it was surprising to see Cui Yuing, a Deputy Minister, Chairing and Compering the event and even recognising the special guests. I had the opportunity to sit next to her. 


In his speech Liu Qibao said that China is a unified country with diverse ethnic groups. ( China has fifty six ethnic groups) He said , China was developing Tibet together with the Tibetan people and that it was no longer a feudal society. Liu said " We are developing Tibet with care. It is a continuous development of livelihood . There were slaves here with no freedom. Today the life expectancy is 61 %. Literacy rate has gone up. All ethnic groups can live peacefully . We are working with the outside world in the development of Tibet . We are opening up even more. Visits from outside will help open and you see it for yourself. We have invested 600 billion yuan in the development of Tibet which is huge" The opening session was addressed by the Vice President of the Asia Society in New York, Christine Davies, leaders of Tibet autonomous region, a leader of the Lhasa city, French national and author of the book ‘Journey to the heart of Tibet, Dr Sonia Bressler among others. 


The Forum was represented by sixty two foreign nationals from forty countries , academics, officials, politicians, media and others. Exchanges were open and frank. Many Tibetans in China including farmers and business people and academic shared their experiences with us. Several stressed the importance of learning many languages. We also had to put up with some long winded speeches both from the Chinese Tibetan and foreign participants which is the norm at the Forums. 


Many participants continued to fall ill with cramps, headaches, body aches and lack of oxygen which was readily provided by the hosts. Many of us had visits from doctors with interpreters. I met a Tibetan interpreter with the name of Dicky and told her it was an english name. However, she insisted that its a name of Tibetan females. I only hope I have got the spellings right. After the day one of the Forum we had the opportunity to visit Ganju Tibetan traditional medicine company. Surprisingly many foreign participants spent considerable time at the medicine centre and consulted the doctors on various illnesses. 


We also had a rare opportunity to visit a monastery /Temple and watch Monks debate on issues. It was a short visit but, was pleasant to see them engage in debates on issues. Our hosts didn't forget to take us to enjoy the night scene of the Potala palace which I must say was another pleasant and a memorable experience. Visit to the Lhasa riverside park to enjoy the night scene on a boat with beer from Lhasa was and with a cheerful sing song by our Tibetan guides and friends will be remembered for a long time . Lhasa we saw it is not what the world would expect. Yes. It is the unexpected and beautiful all day and night. 


Next Week : More from unforgettable Tibet 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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