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Sorting out the Future for Chinese-Controlled Tibet

An Independent Television News report on life in Tibet, a country controlled by China for more than 50 years.

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  • LINDSEY HILSUM, ITV News Correspondent:

    The Jokhang Temple, the spiritual heart of Tibet. Dawn comes late because the Chinese government insists that everywhere it controls keep the same time as Beijing, even Lhasa, 1,600 miles to the west.

    Pilgrims and monks do their kora, a clockwise circuit around a 7th century temple, prostrating themselves before the Buddha. Western tourists, and these days a growing number of Han Chinese, watch the religious devotion, which characterizes Tibetan Buddhists.

  • Most of the time, though, Chinese tourists and visiting dignitaries take pictures of each other. A popular spot:

    against the back drop of the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s seat until he fled Chinese rule and went into exile 48 years ago; or just as they arrive, in front of the railway station, built to look like Potala.

    Two-and-a-half-million people visited Tibet last year. The railway is expected to bring 80 percent more this year.

  • HE BEN YUN, Tibetan Development and Reform Committee (through translator):

    Now the railway is running, there’s a sharp increase in both tourists and businesspeople from home and abroad. It works with the principle of the market economy. I think it’s good. Nowhere can develop in isolation.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    Much of Lhasa increasingly looks like, well, any small city in China. Steadily, rapidly, the government is integrating Tibet into the Chinese economy, making it ever more difficult for what it calls splittists, those who proclaim independence, to have any impact.

  • HE BEN YUN (through translator):

    Tibetan culture is an exotic flower amongst Chinese cultures. It has existed for more than 2,000 years. But, as Marxism says, we should keep the good things of a culture and remove the bad.

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