What's behind U.S. ambassador’s trip to Tibetan region?
If Hollywood missed Gary Locke, U.S. ambassador to China, it would cry its eye out for such a huge loss.
He is a professional diplomat, but more of a politician, and even superb in show business.
The U.S. State Department confirmed on Tuesday ambassador to China Gary Locke made a recent visit to Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province in late September and met officials and a number of local residents, including Tibetans. Aba made headlines in foreign media just because some Tibetans there, instigated by the Dalai Lama clique as evident, in the region set themselves on fire.
The U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States has “grave concerns” for incidents of self-immolation and urged the Chinese government to engage in further dialogues with Tibetans.
The Voice of America said Oct.16 that a photo of Gary Locke in grey suit was widely spread on the internet in recent days, which shows Locke bending down to shake hands with a monk, who is seated.
After being asked about the trip at a daily news briefing in Washington on Tuesday, Nuland acknowledged Locke’s trip to Aba prefecture, saying that is part of his visit to western Chongqing and Sichuan. He also met with local officials and attended events promoting China-U.S. trade.
“When he was in Aba, he met with a number of local residents, including ethnic Tibetans,” said the spokeswoman, “He also visited villages and monasteries to learn more about how ethnic Tibetan people live and work, and to have a chance to talk to them.”
The State Department added that Locke briefs all American officials visiting Beijing about China’s human rights situation and Tibetan affairs and has also brought up such topics with the Chinese government.
The Associated Press said Tuesday Aba prefecture normally has no access to foreigners. Overseas groups also claim 55 self-immolations have happened across the Tibetan plateau since Feb. 2009, with half of which occurred in Aba.
Since taking office as the first Chinese-American envoy to China, Gary Locke has expressed too much of his "great interest" about the so-called human rights situation in China. Analysts say Locke, putting on an act of being low-profile and close to the grassroots, will present a stark contrast with some Chinese officials. Locke has thus devised the image campaign to touch ordinary people's soft sopts and also show America as a “democracy” model to the Chinese people.
What he has done thus far since he set foot on the Chinese soil is well beyond a professional diplomat’s scope of mission. Rather, as a politician and show person, he seems so accustomed to reaching out to something that could and would not fall within his territory. Much to his dismay, many achievements he has been seeking after are actually beyond attainment.
Tibet in fact, not in the eyes of Gary Locke
No matter how the Dalai Lama Laments over little progress on human rights in Tibet, the progress of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region toward a real flourishing Shangri-la is true as a matter of fact.
Great progress has been made in various aspects of Tibet since democratic reforms were adopted there in 1959, said Western sociologists in a recently published article.
U.S. columnists John Naisbitt -- once assistant to the commissioner of education under U.S. President John F. Kennedy -- and his wife Doris made the remarks in an article published last Friday in WirtschaftsBlatt, a daily Austrian financial newspaper.
"Tibet cannot and should not be excluded when talking about China's today and tomorrow," according to the article entitled "The Various Faces of Tibet," because "the Tibet Autonomous Region covers about one eighth of China's territory."
In fact, the system in Tibet till 1950 maintained by the "brutal religious police" showed "not a pretty face" for the majority of the population while "90 percent of the people lived as slaves, serfs or bonded laborers, the article said.
Those who were against the religious law or rules had to suffer such cruel medieval punishments as eyes burned with hot oil, hands cut off and body sewn in wet yak skin, dried and thrown into ravines, it said.
The "Tibet-in-exile government" led by the Dali Lama was still an "undemocratic regime" with the style of a "medieval potentate," said the columnist couple, citing a report from the German Stern Magazine in 2009.
After traveling in China several times for on-the-spot investigations and interviews, the American authors, who specialize in futures study, concluded that significant progress has been made in Tibet since the introduction of democratic reforms more than 50 years ago.
The authors cited impressive statistics, which led to their conclusion: In 1959, there were no roads in the real sense in Tibet while the total length of roads now adds up to some 50,000 km.
Its gross domestic product (GDP) rocketed from 18 million euros (22.6 million U.S. dollar) in 1959 to 5.3 billion euros (6.7 billion dollars) in 2009.
Life expectancy in Tibet has extended from 35.5 to 67 years; education, once a privilege of the monks and aristocrats, is now accessible by 98 percent of the population.
They also listed facts on the change of people's living standard, economic and social development in Tibet.
In August, 2012, Academics gathered at the Beijing International Seminar on Tibetan Studies to discuss the region's sustainable development.
Cuorong Zhandui, a leading expert on sustainable development in Tibet, said government funds and assistance from other provinces have given Tibet the ability to develop while keeping costs to the environment to a minimum.
Professor Cuorong Zhandui, China Tibetology Research Center, Sichuan University, said, "Fifty percent of Tibet Autonomous region are designated as ecological reserves. This is unprecedented anywhere else in the country. Meanwhile the Central Government also initiated policies such as returning cropland to forestry and eco-compensation. In the future, the government plans invest 100 million yuan to improve on people’s livelihood. "
Having made over fifty trips to pastoral areas in Qinghai province, German scholar Andreas Gruschke said he was convinced of an improvement in the economy and social welfare provision, brought about by investment in Tibet.
For sustainability to be achieved, Gruschke believes it’s best to consult local people about their needs before rushing into any big projects.
Admitting problems existing in Tibet, they said "each coin has two sides," and ultimately, "everyone must make their own opinion" and should view the problems from an overall perspective.