Special Report: Qinghai-Tibet
BEIJING, July 1 (Xinhua) -- While the common Tibetans
cherish the Qinghai-Tibet Railway as a "passage to heavenly bliss", a group of
overseas people including some westerners have been caviling at the world's most
elevated rail link since before it was on the sketch.
The rail link, which opened Saturday between Tibet's regional capital
Lhasa and several other Chinese cities, they said, could lead to "cultural
genocide" by an influx of the Han people, China's majority ethnic group.
Right as their claims to preserve the Tibetan culture may sound, the
hidden intention behind their calls is for Tibet to maintain its status quo and
remain a stereotyped cultural specimen for them to enjoy.
The Tibetans won't buy any of this. Why shouldn't Tibet progress like
the rest of the world?
It is not geographical distance but rather stereotyped mentality or
political bias that leads to such prejudice.
These people are set to be opposed to any development project the
Chinese government maps in Tibet, and their pretexts are always high sounding:
under the excuse of protecting the Tibetans' interest, their culture and
Actually, modern civilization has never been rejected in Tibet. Even
when Lhasa was a thing of two or three square kilometers' stretch of houses,
modern Western utensils such as flush toilets had been installed in the Norbu
Linkag, the Dalai Lama's summer palace.
Today, those people who wrathfully criticized the Qinghai-Tibet
railway would like to chose to shuttle around the world by air in Gucci shoes
and any other designer outfits, preaching the "art of happiness".
Their pretext to deny the Tibetans access to modern civilization
apparently proves hypocritical.
Despite all their irresponsible words, the fact is as clear as the
azure sky above the snow-covered plateau that the railroad will benefit the
Tibetans, who make up 95 percent of the local population.
Tibet makes up one eighth of the Chinese territory, but without a
railway, passengers and goods had to be shipped by buses, trucks and planes,
which are either slow or expensive.
Little access to traffic and high transportation costs have long
hindered the region's economic development, locked many Tibetans in the
Himalayas and limited their access to health care, education or pilgrims.
In Tibet, a ton of coal or cement now sells for almost four times the
national average price and transportation costs account for 75 percent of the
Now at last, here come the first trains to link the roof of the world
with the rest of China, to steer Tibet toward modern civilization while
presenting the essence of its own culture to the world.
Once the new rail link becomes fully operational, Tibet's total
capacity to move products and resources in and out is expected to increase 45
times its current level.
Despite worries over the railway's environmental destruction, the
import of coal alone is able to alleviate the ecological pressure caused by the
region's logging for fuel.
To build an eco-friendly railway, the Chinese government spent 1.5
billion yuan (some 180 million US dollars) on environmental conservation along
the route, about five percent of the project's total spending and the largest
amount in any single railway project in China.
The railway has 33 special passageways for rare animals, including
the critically-endangered Tibetan antelopes. It has also bypassed celestial
burial ground and lamaseries to preserve Tibetan religious sites.
Development is a common choice of the human race, and no one should,
or can, slam on a brake on a train to modern civilization. Now that Beijing is
only 48 hours away, the roar of the locomotives is sure to mute all the
Historian Basang Wangdu's words may serve as an indisputable reply to
cultural and environmental worriers: "A Tibet without economic and social
development never deserves the honor of Shangri-La." Enditem