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Interview: Belgian expert sees real willingness to protect Tibetan culture

By Source:Xinhua 2015-08-28

Over the past 50 years, the living standards of the Tibetan people has improved a lot with "indisputably huge" progress being made, Belgian Tibetologist Andre Lacroix said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Having translated the memoirs of Tibetan historian Tashi Tsering, Lacroix said he gained an unparalleled insight into historic Tibetan society and the modernization of the region.

During his many visits to China, Lacroix has met twice his hero Tsering, who wrote the book "My fight for a modern Tibet."

The Tibetologist met Tsering for the first time in 2009 and explored the region with him. Lacroix recalled the region being "in the process of modernization" at the time.

When Tsering was small in the early 1930s, he wanted to learn to read and write. But there was no school in his village, Lacroix said.

According to him, illiteracy was rampant at the time along with other severe problems in society and the state of development.

"If you were born poor and as peasants, you would normally stay poor all your life," Lacroix said.

But living standards of Tibetans today is improving, especially since the rapid development that followed the building of the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

"This is a win-win project, with which Tibet further develops and improves its economy, strengthens external exchanges and elevates living standards," he said.

The railway line opened up areas isolated for centuries and helped promote responsible tourism as well, Lacroix added.

Despite the modernization of Tibetan society, religious freedom remains in tact, the Belgian expert said.

According to him, Tibetan culture is "much less" threatened than many other minority cultures in the world.

"The Tibetan language is mandatory in primary schools. I believe there is a real willingness by the Chinese government to protect Tibetan culture," he told Xinhua.

Lacroix noted a lot of effort has gone into preserving the environment in the region. "The Yarlung Zangbo River is very beautiful, along which there are hydraulic plants. In Tibet, we also see many wind farms and homes with solar panels," he said.

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