IV. Population, Health, Culture, Education and Tourism in Tibet
54. What demographic changes have taken place in Tibet over the past decade?
A: According to the fifth national census of 2001, the population of Tibet increased by 420,300 over the past decade.
According to the 2001 national census, the total population of Tibet is 2.6263 million, an increase of 420,300 over the 2.196 million figure recorded in 1990, which denotes an average increase of 40,700 annually, and an annual population growth rate of 1.7 percent.
Of the total 2.6163 million inhabitants of the region, 2.4111 million are Tibetan, making up 92.2 percent of the total. The remainder comprises 155,300 Han, making up 5.9 percent, and 49,900 various other ethnic groups, making up 1.9 percent.
The fifth national census also shows that the number of educated inhabitants in Tibet has increased sharply. According to its findings, 33,000 have received college education, making up 1.3 percent of the total; 88,880 have received senior secondary or professional secondary education, making up 3.4 percent; 160,500 have received junior secondary education, making up 6.1 percent; and 801,000 have received elementary education, making up 30.6 percent.
When comparing these figures with those of the fourth national census in 1990, it can be seen that the number of college graduates in Tibet has increased from 565 to 1,262 per 100,000; those receiving senior secondary education have increased from 2,120 to 3,395 per 100,000; those at the junior secondary education level have increased from 3,849 to 6,136 per 100,000; and those who have received primary education have increased from 18,576 to 30,615 per 100,000.
55. The Dalai Lama states that the Chinese government has instigated mass emigration to Tibet in a bid to make the Tibetan people living in Tibet an ethnic minority. Is this true?
A: No. Firstly, the Chinese government has never devised any kind of emigration plan for Tibet; and second, census statistics reveal that Tibetans have always been the majority within Tibet's population. During the first national census of 1953 the local government of Tibet, headed by the Dalai Lama, reported a figure of 1 million as that of the local population to the census agent. During the second national census in 1964, the whole population of Tibet was 1.25 million, of which 1.209 million were Tibetan, a lion's share 96.63 percent. During the third national census in 1982 the whole population of Tibet was 1.892 million, of which 1.786 million were Tibetan, accounting for 94.4 percent. The fourth national census in 1990 indicated that the whole population of Tibet has reached the level of 2.196 million, of which 2,096 million were Tibetan, accounting for 94.46 percent. The fifth national census in 2000 indicated that the total population of Tibet was 2.6163 million, of which 2.4111 were Tibetan, accounting for 92.2 percent. The Tibetan population in Tibet therefore increased from 1 million to over 2 million over a period of 50 years. such a high natural increase rate of population is unprecedented in Tibet's history. According to the fifth national census I n2000 the number of Han people in Tibet was 155,300-5.9 percent of the total population.
Most of the Han people and other ethnic group residents in Tibet are professionals and technicians with a higher than average education and specialized skills. They mostly return to their hometowns once they have completed their service terms. Since opening up and reform, traders from neighboring provinces have gone to Tibet to do business, but they are largely itinerant and of a small number, rarely settling down in Tibet. Therefore, the allegation that the Chinese government is using mass emigration to turn Tibetan people into a minority in Tibet is groundless.
56. Is it true that, as declared by the Dalai Lama, 1.2 million Tibetan people were killed after the peaceful liberation of Tibet?
A: No. This is a lie concocted by the Dalai clique. According to a census conducted by the central government of the Qing Dynasty during 1734 to 1736, the whole population of Tibet was 941, 200. In 1953 the local government of Tibet headed by the Dalai Lama reported that the local population was 1 million. The whole Tibetan population would have been wiped out if 1.2 million people were killed after the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951.
It is an undeniable fact that the economy and society of Tibet have undergone marked progress since the peaceful liberation of Tibet, especially since the democratic reform in 1959, when serfdom was abolished. With the constant improvement in health care and living standards of Tibetan people, the long stagnant population growth of Tibet has seen a sharp increase. According to the fifth national census in 2000, the population of Tibet was 2.6163 million, with Tibetan people accounting for 92.2 percent.
57. Is it true that the Chinese government forces sterilization and abortion on Tibetan women?
A: China is a dense-populated country with limited resources. In order to balance the population growth with economic and social development and limited resources, the Chinese government has family planning as one of its basic policies, whose implementation is based on the guidance of the state and the free will of the masses. It plays a big role in controlling population growth and improving the quality of life of the people.
However, China operates a special family planning policy for Tibetan people, which is worked out by the local government of Tibet in line with the actual situation of the region concerned. At present 88 percent of Tibetan farmers and herdsmen are not subject to the family planning policy, but are encouraged to practice birth control in order to give their children a better quality of life. There are actually very few usable land resources on the vast Tibet Plateau. In 1991 the per capita arable land was only 0.1 hectare in Tibet, while the population continued to swell. In view of this situation, the government of Tibet Autonomous Region has, since 1984, advocated a family planning policy among Tibetan officials, encouraging each couple to have one to two children over several years' span. But there is no restriction on the number of children in Tibetan farming and herdsmen's families. Forced abortion in any form is prohibited in implementing the family planning policy. In addition, birth control propaganda has not even found its way into the sparsely populated frontier regions of Tibet.
58. How many ethnic groups are there in Tibet, and what are their customs?
A: Tibetans are the dominant inhabitants of Tibet, accounting for d92.2 percent of the local population. There are also other ethnic groups, including Moinba, Lhoba, Hui, Deng and Sherpa.
The Tibetan ethnic group of China is noted for its diligence, bravery and long history. Tibetans live mainly in Tibet and also in some areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces. They have their own language and written script. Most Tibetan people are Buddhist. Their staple food is barley flour, and they like to drink butter tea, milk tea, barley wine, and eat beef and mutton. They do not eat odd-toed mammals. In ancient times Tibetan people buried their dead. Now they perform cremation, exposure burial and water burial.
The Moinba is an ancient ethnic group on the Tibet Plateau. Most Moinbas live in Moinyu in southrn Tibet, and he rest are scattered through Medog, Conag, Nyingchi and other counties. Moinbas have their own language but no written script, and the Tibetan language and script are widely used among them. Moinbas live on agriculture, but are also involved in animal husbandry, forestry, hunting and handicrafts. Their staple foods are rice, corn and buckwheat. Most Moinbas believe in Tibetan Buddhism. Primitive sorcery is also worshipped in some areas. Water burial is popular among Moinbas, ground burial, exposure burial and cremation are also conducted.
Most Lhoba people live in Lhoyu in southeastern Tibet, and a small number live in Mainling, Medog, Zayu and Lhunze. The Lhobas have their own language but no written script, although a small number know the Tibetan language and script. Lhobas live on agriculture. Their staple foods are corn, millet, rice and buckwheat.
The Hui people in Tibet are concentrated in Lhasa Xigaze and Qamdo. Most of them are engaged in trade, handicrafts and butchery. They use both Tibetan and Han characters in everyday life, and Urdu and Arabic for their religious rituals. Hui people are Islamic and have built mosques in Lhasa and other places.
The Deng people reside in Zayu County in Nyingchi Prefecture. They have their own language but no written script. The Dengs live on agriculture. Before liberation, the Dengs stills used the primitive slash-and-burn method. After liberation, with the help of the government most of them have moved out of forests and settled on the river valley.
The Sherpa people are concentrated in Lixin Township, Dinggye and Zhentang. They have their own language and use Tibetan script.
The emigration of Han people to Tibet can be date back to the Qing Dynasty. These days Han residents in Tibet are mostly technicians, workers, teachers, medical professionals and officials from other provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions of China.
59. What is the medical and health situation in Tibet?
A: Tibet was formerly overrun with malign epidemics. According to historical records, during the 150 years before the peaceful liberation of Tibet there were four massive smallpox outbreaks in the region, one which occurred in 1925 killing 7,000 people. Two typhoid outbreaks in 1934 and 1937 ended in a death toll of 5,000 in Lhasa alone.
Since the peaceful liberation of Tibet the central government and local governments at various levels in Tibet have made painstaking efforts to develop its medical and public health sector, in a bid to improve the general health of the people. There has been no smallpox since the 1960s in Tibet, and other fatal diseases have either been eradicated or kept under control. Planned immunization is carried out throughout the region. 85 percent of children receive immunization, and 51.25 percent of children under the age of 7 are eligible for systematic health care services. Farmers an herdsmen of Tibet enjoy free medical services, while urban residents share medical costs with the state.
In old Tibet there were only two official hospitals, both small and poorly equipped. A medical and health network now covers all urban and rural areas. In 1998 there were 1,324 medical institutes in the region, with 6,246 hospital beds, averaging 2.5 beds per 1,000 people. There were also 1.84 doctors and 3.57 medical workers per 1,000 people in Tibet, higher than the national average. The average expected life span has risen form 36 to 65 years in Tibet.
60. What are the developments and innovation in traditional Tibetan medicine?
A: By end of 1998 Tibet had 17 independent institutes of Tibetan medicine. In the counties without hospital of Tibetan medicine, the departments of Tibetan medicine have been set up in the county hospitals, and the total number of hospital beds for Tibetan medicine amounted to 587.
Education of Tibetan medicine started from scratch and has born rich fruits, as illustrated by the establishment of the School of Tibetan Medicine of Tibet Autonomous Region, the Department of Tibetan Medicine of Tibet University and the Insitute of Tibetan Medicine. The Department of Tibetan Medicine has sent a large number of graduates to various areas of Tibet and other provinces including Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan.
Scientific research into Tibetan medicine has also undergone remarkable progress. Besides the Four Medical Classics, 32 works, monographs and documents on Tibetan medicine have been compiled and Published. A total of 28 research topics have been designated as projects above provincial level, of which 13 have won scientific and technological advancement prizes above provincial level. Zuotai, a Tibetan medicine, has been awarded the patent certificate of the state, 14 patent Tibetan drugs are listed in the China Pharmacopoeia, and 41 Tibetan medicinal materials and 97 patent Tibetan drugs have been nominated by the state as protected items of traditional Chinese medicine.
Great achievements have also been made in research and development of patent Tibetan drugs. Four new Tibetan drugs produced by the Tibet Pharmaceutical Plant have won state new medicine certificate. There are 22 Tibetan pharmaccutical plants in the region, with an annual output value of over 200 million yuan, generating more than 20 million yuan in state revenue annually. These plants meet the market demand for Tibetan medicines not only in Tibet Autonomous Region, but also in other provinces such as Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan. Outlets for sales of rare Tibetan medicines have been set up in 30 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions throughout China, supplying medicines for 600 hospitals in the Chinese interior. Several brands of drugs are exported.
61. What are the main theories of Tibetan medicine?
A: Yuthog Yuntangoinbo, author of the Four Medical Classics, is founder of the Tibetan medicine. According to Tibetan medicine, the human body's physiological functions are generated by three primary elements: long, chiba and peigen. Long sustains life, circulates breath and blood, moves limbs, and decomposes food; chiba, namely bile, generates and regulates the body temperature, gives the face a healthy color, breeds wisdom and assists digestion. Peigen, namely saliva, supplies nutrition, develops fat, regulates skin, and ensures good sleep. Tibetan doctors believe a balance of the three elements can regulate the normal physiological functions of the human body, and that any imbalance leads to ailments.
Tibetan doctors also believe that the human body is composed of 7 substances: essence of food, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and fluid. People's five solid viscera (heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney) and six hollow organs (gallbladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, bladder and sanjiao) are connected with one another through channels and collaterals. The human body is closely linked to nature, and all physiological functions are affected by changes in nature.
The main diagnostic methods of Tibetan medicine are observation, palpation and interrogation. Doctors also pay close attention to the patients' urine during examination. Treatment includes not only medicines made of plants, animals and minerals, but also therapies such as acupuncture and bloodletting.
Embryology is an important component of Tibetan medicine. Tibetan doctors started research on embryology in the 7th century. The Four Medical Classics has detailed records of the whole process of embryo development. There is also an account in the Five Volumes of Biography which states: "The embryo goes through three stages-first fish, then tortoise, then pig." Tibetan doctors started research on diverse fields of human physiological development far earlier than their foreign counterparts.
62. What are the famous Tibetan medicines?
A: One Tibetan herb is the Chinese caterpillar fungus. The best species is that which grows in Nagqu 4,500 meters above sea level. Chinese caterpillar fungus can help invigorate kidneys, nourish the lungs, balance yin and yang and improve immunity.
They snow lotus is a wild plant growing on the snowy plateau 3,500 to 5,000 meters above sea level in northeastern Tibet. It can cure head wounds, gynecopa-thy, rheumatoid arthritis, apoplexy, altitude sickness and altitude stress. It can also ease swelling by external application.
Lubeimu grows in Yushu in Qinghai Province, Garze in Sichuan province and Nagqu in Tibet Autonomous Region. It can nourish the lugs, and relieve coughing and wheezing.
Saffron crocus is one of the most common Tibetan medicines. It can invigorate blood circulation, disperse blood stasis, dredge the meridian passages, cool and nourish the blood and remove toxic materials from the human body.
63. What is distinctive about Tibet's ancient literature and arts?
A: Tibet's traditional culture is rich and diverse, and can be broadly divided into religious culture and folk culture. Religious culture consists of temple architecture, Buddhist sculpture, murals, and Thangka painting. A Thangka is a scrolled religious cloth painting or silk embroidery edged with brocade, and is a handicraft unique to Tibet. The emphasis within Thangka art is on color-coordination, brush strokes and scale of image. Specialized training is required in order to master this specialized Tibetan skill. All the large monasteries in Tibet are abundant in this artform and the Potala Palace has two 50-meter-long Thangkas, which are kept in a two-story warehouse. Giant Thangkas are displayed for worship for lamas and lay people during important festivals.
Folk culture covers folk story telling, singing and dancing. There are numerous popularly known Tibetan fables and mottoes, the most famous being the mottoes of Sakya and Kaldan. The best known work of Tibetan folk literature is the saga King Gesar, an epic of how King Gesar and his followers tried to rid people of evil. For Tibetan people King Gesar is the incarnation of justice, bravery, power and ideal.
Tibet is known as an "ocean of song and dance." Guoxie is a communal dance where the dancers perform in a circle, hand in hand. Duixie has been called Tibetan tap dancing. Guozhuang, a dance also perform in a circle, hand in hand. Duixie has been called Tibetan tap dancing. Guozhuang, a dance also performed in a circle, is popular in the farming, pastoral and forest areas in Tibet, and Guozhunag dance in Qamdo is the most famous of all. the ebullient Raba dance, on the other hand, is performed on squares, and its protagonists are highly skilled. The Qiangmu, danced by a sorcerer who goes off into a trance, is a religious dance performed to exorcise evil spirits.
Tibetan opera derives from sorcerer dancing, but it also has a plot, fixed vocal music, dancing, and a specialized performance mode.
64. What kind of a book is Gesar?
A: Gesar is an epic saga that has been created by Tibetan people over the centuries. It is an abundant source of information regarding Tibet's primitive society, and epitomizes the highest achievements within ancient Tibetan culture. It constitutes an encyclopedic resource for research into early Tibetan life, and has been dubbed the "Iliad of the East," despite having been passed down orally through generations by folk balladeers.
Gesar tells of events occurring between the first and fifth centuries, as the clan system disintegrated, and the slave society evolved. Wars between clans, tribes and ethnic groups constitute the main origins of these stories. From the seventh to ninth centuries, when the Tubo Kingdom was at its zenith, national morale was high, and tales of legendary war heroes were disseminated by word of mouth. The framework for King Gesar thus came into being during this priod, and a few handwritten copies appeared. On the collapse of the Tubo Kingdom in the 10th century, the saga of Gesar was more widely diffused and, in the process, embellished and enhanced.
Apart from beingan epic about wars that occurred between different tribes within Tibetan ethnic groups, and the eventual unification of Tibet, Gesar's plot also tells of the three realms (Heaven, Earth, and Hell) and various gods and deities. Gesar, the eponymous leading character within the epic, not only conquers visible enemies, but also triumphs over invisible demons and ghosts. The epic encompasses a massive body of Tibetan mythology.
To protect this precious Tibetan cultural gem, in 1979 Tibet Autonomous Region set up a special organization to collect, sort out, record, analyze and publish the epic Gesar. The state has listed this as a key research project for the sixth, seventh and eighth five-year plans. After 20 years of effort, nearly 300 volumes, handwritten and woodblock printed in the Tibetan language, have been collected, and more than 70 volumes published, with a total impression of 3 million copies. More than 3,000 audio cassettes, called the "King of the World Epics," have been recorded, making this oral literature a magnum opus of historic significance. meanwhile, more than 20 volumes have been translated into Chinese and published, and some English, Japanese and French translations have also been published. This feat is unprecedented, both in terms of the preservation of Tibetan folk literature, and in the history of publishing.
65. According to the agreement reached in 1951 between the central government and the local government of Tibet, the school education of Tibet would steadily develop. How has this development progressed up to now?
A: In old Tibet, education was backward, and there were no modern schools. It was only some 2,000 lamas and children of noble families who were eligible to study in old-style official and private schools. The majority had no access to education.
After the signing of Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, the Lhasa Primary School was built in 1952, and the Lhasa Middle School in 1956. Since then modern education has found its way to Tibet. In order to develop the education sector of Tibet, the central government has invested 1.1 billion yuan, and has launched many incentives, a particularly effective one being that of Tibetan students receiving free education from primary school right through to college. Since 1985 primary and middle schools have provided free accommodation and clothes to their Tibetan students. And boarding schools have been built in farming and pastoral areas. When enrolling students, colleges, professional schools and secondary specialized schools give priority to Tibetan and other ethnic minorities. A number of schools and departments in Tibetan culture have been established, including those specializing in the Tibetan language, Tibetan medicine, Tibetan folk arts and history.
Over the past 50 years Tibet has set up an education system with Tibetan characteristics, including kindergartens, primary and middle schools, secondary professional education, higher education, adult education and TV education. All residents in cities and towns, as well as farmers and herdsmen, enjoy the right to education. By 1998 Tibet had built 4 modern colleges-Tibet University, the Ethnic University, the Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Institute and the Institute of Tibetan Medicine, as well as 16 secondary specialized schools of teaching, agriculture and animal husbandry, health care, Tibetan medicine, economy and finance, sports, arts, posts and telecommunications, 90 middle schools and 4,251 primary schools. In 1998 the school enrollment rate for children was 81.3 percent, and the registered number of pupils was more than 370,000, with Tibetan students as the majority. The number of teaching staff stood at 16, 000, two-thirds being Tibetan teachers, and audio-visual education has become an important method of teaching in Tibet.
Over the past 50 years, there have been 18,000 university graduates and 510,000 primary-school and middle-school graduates in Tibet, of whom 40,000 are graduates of secondary specialized schools senior middle schools and vocational schools, and 15,000 cadre-training-course graduates. Nearly 7,000 people have won adult self-education diplomas from colleges of professional training and secondary specialized schools.
66. Is there any restriction on the study and use of the Tibetan language in Tibet?
A: The Chinese Constitution stipulates that each ethnic group has the freedom to use and develop its own language. The Law on the Regional Ethnic Autonomy of the People's Republic of China also stipulates that in performing their duties the organs of self-government of an ethnic autonomous area shall employ one or more of the spoken and written languages in common use in the locality.
Tibetan is the spoken and written language generally used in Tibet Autonomous Region. In July 1987, the Regional People's Congress adopted its Regulations of Tibet Autonomous Region on the Study, Use and Development of the Tibetan language (Trial Implementation), which states clearly that Tibet shall use both the Tibetan and Chinese languages, with Tibetan as the main communication medium. All resolutions, laws, decrees, and government documents and notices are currently issued in both the Tibetan and Chinese languages. Local TV and radio stations and newspapers also use both languages. Of all the books published in the region, 70 percent are in Tibetan. A major principle of local employment and school enrolment is to provide equal opportunities for users of different languages, while giving priority to Tibetan language users. Mass meetings and conventions are conducted in Tibetan, and road and street signs, and notices in public places are in both Tibetan and Chinese. The Tibetan language is a major item on the curriculum of schools at all levels in Tibet. It is also an ethnic minority language used on important occasions, such as the National People's Congress, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The Central People's Broadcasting Station has a Tibetan program.
The Tibetan Codes and Characters for Information Technology, formulated by Tibet, has been adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), opening the wary for the Tibetan language to enter modern information and media fields. In 1995, Tibet established the Committee for Standardization of Terms in the Tibetan Language, whose work was the standardization of the Tibetan language and its usage, providing a guarantee for the use and development of the Tibetan language.
67. It is said that large numbers of Han Chinese are pouring into Tibet, and that China is systematically destroying Tibetan culture. The Dalai Lama also claims that "Tibetan culture is facing destruction." Is that true?
A: This accusation is groundless and has ulterior motives. The Chinese Government has stuck by its policy of protecting and developing the culture and traditions of ethnic minorities, and Tibetan culture is experiencing all-round development rather than facing destruction.
The state values and supports Tibetology undertakings. Currently, there are over 50 Tibetology research institutes in China, with more than 2,000 researchers and other staff members. In recent years, these institutes have organized more than 60 academic forums on the history, language, religion, philosophy, literature and arts, education, astronomy, calendrical calculation and Tibetan medicine, completed over 300 important research subjects, and published more than 400 monographs.
The study, usage and development of the Tibetan language have been accorded high priority, and the heritage of Tibetan folk culture and arts has been systematically investigated, collected, collated, edited and published. A large number of ancient Tibetan books have been protected, and a region-wide survey of historic and cultural relics has been basically completed. Numerous precious relics have been put under protection, and many monasteries have been listed as key relics under state or regional protection. The Potala Palace has been renovated with a government investment of 55 million yuan, and the Tibet Museum, with a state investment of 90 million yuan, is now open to the public.
Tibet's cultural undertakings have also developed greatly. Tibet currently has 35 multi-functional cultural and art centers, and 380 rural cultural clubs. Radio and TV stations, newspapers, books and other media have also flourished.
Traditional customs of Tibetan people are respected. Most Tibetans in urban, agricultural and pastoral areas still maintain their traditional habits of dress, diet and habitation. Every year the Tibetan people celebrate traditional festivals, such as the Tibetan New Year, and the Shoton (Yogure), Butter Lantern, Bathing, and Harvest Thanksgiving festivals. The state offers preferential policies for the production of articles needed by minority ethnic groups.
68. What has been done to protect cultural relics in Tibet?
A: Since Tibet's Democratic Reform, the Central People's Government has paid great attention to the protection of Tibet's cultural relics. In June 1959, the Tibet Records Management Committee of Cultural Relics and Historical Sites was set up, which has since collected and protected large amounts of cultural relics and archives. In 1984, the modern Archives of Tibet Autonomous Region was built to reinforce archive administration.
Important sites, such as the Potala Palace, the Jokhang and Galdan monasteries, the Tomb of the Tibetan King, and the Zongshan anti-British invasion site in Gyangze, have been listed as China's key cultural relics for state protection. Tibet currently has 18 key cultural relics under state protection, three state-level historic and cultural cities, 64 cultural relics under regional protection, and over 20 under county-level protection.
Like other parts of China, many cultural relics in Tibet were ruined during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1979). Since 1976, the government has stepped up its protection of cultural relics. Between 1989 and 1994, the Central People's Government allocated 55 million yuan and a large amount of gold and silver for the renovation of the Potala Palace, the largest cultural relic protection project ever. In May 1994, experts sent by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to inspect the newly repaired Potala palace commented that the renovation was of an advanced international standard, that the project was a "miracle in the history of protection of ancient buildings," and "a great contribution to the preservation of Tibetan culture, as well as the culture of the world." From 1994 to 1997, the Central People's Government invested nearly 100 million yuan in the construction of the Tibet Museum. The museum covers an area of 52,479 square meters, with a floor space of 21,000 square meters, and is one of the few modernized museums in China.
In 1965 the People's Government of Tibet Autonomous Region established the regional Cultural Relics Administrative Committee, which is responsible for the protection and administration of cultural relics in Tibet. Since the 1980s, Tibet has promulgated a series of laws and stipulations for the protection of cultural relics, and the amount of staff engaged in cultural relic protection has steadily increased. Currently, Tibet has over 270 archaeologists, 95 percent of them Tibetan. They have made remarkable achievements in archaeological work, and have meanwhile conducted a general survey of cultural relics in Tibet, providing basis for future endeavors in archaeological work and the protection of cultural relics.
69. What efforts has China made to protect Tibet's cultural heritage?
A: The government has conducted systematic surveys, collection, collation, publication and research into Tibet's cultural heritage. The Tibet Ancient Tibetan Books Publishing House has collected over 200 precious ancient Tibetan books, some of which it has collated and published. The Tibet People's Publishing House has concentrated on the collation and publication of classic masterpieces and historic literature. For hundreds of years, these ancient books could only be found in hand-written and woodblock print copies. Now for the first time, they appear in print, beautifully designed and bound.
Since the 1980s, organizations engaged in ethnic cultural heritage restoration, collation and research have been established in various parts of Tibet. They have launched an unprecedented campaign aimed at the restoration, collection, collation, research, compilation and publication of works of ethnic and folk literature and art. The regional government has sent out investigation groups to all corners of Tibet, including cities, towns, villages and monasteries, on an overall investigation and collection mission. As a result, over 20 Tibetan folk literary works have been published. King Gesar, the world's longest epic created by the Tibetan people, has been orally handed down through generations. Retrieval, collation and research into this epic have been listed by the state as a key social science research subject, for which a special organization has been established. So far, more than 3,000 audio tapes have been recorded, and 62 volumes have been published in Tibetan, totaling three million copies. Some have been translated into English, Japanese and French. The compilation of the 600,000-character The Annals of Chinese Dramas: Tibetan Operas has also been completed, filling a huge gap in the theoretical study of the Tibetan theater, and work is in progress on the survey, collection, and collation of Tibetan dance, ballads, music, songs, tales and proverbs.
70. How is China doing on Tibetology research?
A: Tibetology is a comprehensive study of various aspects of Tibet, including Tibetan history, religion, culture, economy, politics and society. Currently, over 50 Tibetology research institutions have been set up in Tibet and other parts of China. In 1986 the China Tibetology Research Center was established in Beijing. These institutes have undertaken a large number of research projects, such as the economic and social development strategy of Tibet, the concise history of Tibet, collation and research of Sanskrit Pattra-leaf scriptures, and the origin of Tibetan religion and its different schools. About 30 Tibetan, Chinese and English periodicals, such as Tibet Study, Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan Social Development Study, Tibetan Arts Study, Snowland Culture, Chinese Tibetology and China's Tibet, are in circulation. With the expansion of international exchanges on Tibet studies which have carried on since the 1980s, 130 scholars from over a dozen countries and regions, including Tibetan scholars living overseas, have visited Tibet on academic trips and cooperative research programs. Certain Tibetan scholars from China have also visited foreign countries on lecture tours or for academic conferences.
71. Why was a collated Tibetan Tripitaka published?
A: The Tibetan Tripitaka includes Gangyur (a canonical collection of Buddhist scriptures) and Dangyur (an interpretation of Buddhist sutras and commandments), totaling 4,570 volumes. It is both a Buddhist classic and an encyclopedic thesaurus which involves philosophy, history, linguistics, literature, arts, astronomy, calendrical calculation, medicine, and architecture. It is a priceless literary artifact within the vast cultural reservoir of china and the world.
The first relatively complete Tibetan edition of the Tripitaka came into being in the early 14th century. In 1410, the eighth year of the Ming Dynasty Yongle reign, Emperor Chengzu, Zhu Di, ordered a special envoy to Tibet to bring back to Nanjing the handwritten Tibetan Tripitaka, with the intention of making a woodblock in order to print the work. The first woodblock printing of the Tibetan Tripitaka thus occurred in China. After woodblock printing technology had been introduced to the Tibetan region, printing and publication of the Tibetan Tripitaka flourished. In the late Ming and early Qing dynasties several block printed versions of the Tibetan Tripitaka appeared, including the Natang, Zhoinnyer, Dege, and Kulun editions.
However, owing to the complex and lengthy process of copying, collating and engraving, several editions of the Tibetan Tripitaka contained errors, omissions, and redundancies, due to misprinting or miscopying. There were also discrepancies in the arrangements of chapters, which affected the completeness and exactitude of the Tibetan Tripitaka. The central government has consequently given priority to the correct ordering and arrangement of the Tibetan Tripitaka, and listed it as a state key research project within the Seventh Five- Year Plan. The Collating Burau of Tripitaka in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, was set up by the China Tibetological Research Center. It invited a number of Tibet experts, professors, and high-ranking monks along to order this body of work. In March of 1995, the first volume of the Dangyur Division collated version of the Tibetan Tripitaka was published by the China Tibetological Publishing House. Publication of the remaining 70-odd volumes of the collated version of Dangyur is expected to be completed by 2005.
72. How is the cultural life of the Tibetan people?
A: The cultural life in Tibet is diverse. The autonomous region now has over 400 cultural palaces and clubs at various levels, offering entertainment and sports facilities. The Tibet Library opened in July 1996, and has so far registered over 100,000 Tibetan readers. Tibet now has 17 county-level itinerant performing troupes, and some 160 amateur folk theatrical troupes, that are active throughout the year in agricultural and pastoral areas. Quite a number of programs staged by these troupes and teams have won prizes at national and regional festivals. There are altogether 5,000 people engaged in theatrical work in Tibet, 90 percent of them Tibetan. They have created a large number of ethnic stage productions, and some of their works have won international awards.
Meanwhile, various prefectures, cities and counties in Tibet often sponsor spontaneous festivals to promote mass cultural activities. The state has invested 2.6 million yuan in establishing the Rural Children's Cultural Garden in Doilungdeqen County, and in 1996 founded the Tibet Children's Art Troupe. The troupe went to the United States in 1998 for the International Children's Art Festival and proved a great success. From 1995 to 1999, 40 professional and amateur Tibetan art troupes or groups, totaling 360 members, went on performance and exchange tours to over 20 countries and regions. They were warmly received wherever they went.
Traditional Tibetan sports activities have developed on a broad scale. Since the 1980s, over a dozen Tibetan folk sports have been restored and listed as formal events on the National Minorities Traditional Games. During Tibetan festivals, various places of Tibet hold traditional sports competitions and demonstrations. Tibet has also improved steadily on its modern sports level, and in particular, has made outstanding achievements in mountaineering.
73. Living on the plateau, do Tibetan people have access to the latest news and information?
A: Over the past two decades, the publishing industry, including books, periodicals and video and audio production, has developed quickly, and a region-wide media network has taken shape. Tibet has four publishing houses and one audio-visual duplicating factory. Since its founding 30 years ago, the Tibet People's Publishing House has published 6,600 titles, with a distribution of 78.9 million copies, 80 percent of them in Tibetan. About 100 titles have won national and regional awards. Tibet now has 25 printing houses, including the Tibet Xinhua Printing House, that have gradually adopted new printing techniques, such as electronic type and photo setting, planographic offset printing, electronic color analysis, and multi-color printing. A region-wide book distribution network has basically been established, which has provided Tibetan readers with over 90 million copies in Tibetan under some 8,000 titles over the past two decades. Newspapers and periodicals have developed steadily. In 1956 the Tibet Daily began publication, and in 1977 Tibet Literature and Arts was issued. Today 52 newspapers and periodicals are in circulation in Tibet.
Radio, film and TV undertakings have also developed after the peaceful liberation. Today, Tibet has two radio stations, 36 medium-and short-wave radio transmission and relay stations, two TV stations, 354 TV relay stations and 1,475 satellite earth stations. Its radio and TV networks cover respectively 65 and 55 percent of the Tibetan population. The TV penetration rate around Lhasa is 75 percent. Film serves as a major cultural pastime in agricultural and pastoral areas. Tibet now has 436 cinemas, which provide over 130,000 film screenings a year and seat some 28.5 million patrons. Farmers and herders watch at least one film, in Tibetan, per person per month. In Tibet's large cities still more information is available at Internet bars.
74. What is the background to the Sixth National Minorities Traditional Games and its subvenue in Lhasa?
A: The Sixth National Minorities Traditional Games was held from September 24 to 30, 1999 in Beijing, with a sub-venue in Lhasa from August 18-23.
The flame for the Sixth National Minorities Traditional Games was lit and taken from Mt. Chomolangma by the Mountaineering Team of Tibet Autonomous Region on May 27, 1999. On August 18, the torch at the sub-venue in Lhasa was lit from the flame obtained from Mt. Chomolangma. On September 7, Cering Zhoigar, vice-chairman of the government of Tibet Autonomous Region, escorted the flame to Beijing. At 9:09:09, September 9, 1999 the flame of the Treasured Ding of the Chinese Nation was lit by nine torches, symbolizing ethnic unity.
The Lhasa sub-venue was superlative in terms of the number of athletes participating, its duration, and scale. Events included archery, the whipping top, Tibetan-style tug-of-war, and equestrian events, with 25 gold medals and 40 demonstration events. A total of 2,386 athletes in 33 delegations from various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities participated in this athletic meet in Lhasa.
75. What historical and scenic sites are there to see in Tibet?
A: Monasteries are an integral part of Tibetan culture and a must for a tour of Tibet.
The Potala Palace in Lhasa is the religious center of Tibet. This majestic and magnificent building spans Mount Potala, and is the primary monastery of Tibet. The Jokhang and Ramoqe monasteries in Lhasa were first constructed at the time of the Tubo Kingdom. The Jokhang Monastery has a large collection of precious cultural relics, the most famous being a gold statue of Sakyamuni, brought to Tibet by Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty when she married Songtsan Gampo, the king of the Tubo Kingdom. The Sera is another famous monastery in Lhasa.
The Samyai Monastery, built in the 8th century, has historic significance. This monastery comprises a cluster of unique buildings. It was built according to the formation of the world as described in Buddhist scriptures, and has great architectural value. The Gandain Monastery is the earliest of the six largest monasteries of the Yellow Sect, and marks its founding on the basis of Tsongkhapa's religious reform. The Drepung Monastery is the largest of the six Yellow Sect monasteries. It has developed into a Buddhist seminary and trains large numbers of monks who wish to enter the Tibetan Buddhism order. The Zhaxi Lhunbo Monastery in Xigaze is also one of the six famous monasteries of the Yellow Sect. It has remained the home temple of the Panchen Lama since the fourth Panchen.
Other famous monasteries include the Sagya, Toling, Xalu, Baiqoi, Changzhug, Sading, Lhasa Mosque and the remains of the Pabangka.
Other sites well worth visiting include Yamzhog Yumoc Lake, the sacred Mapam Yumco Lake, the sacred Gangdise Mountain, the city remains of the ancient Guge Kingdom, the Tibetan King Mausoleum, the Karo remains of the Neolithic Age, Norbu Lingka (the former summer palace of the Dalai Lama), and the Ngari Prefecure, which has been dubbed the "roof over the roof of the world."
Besides sightseeing, Tibet also offers mountaineering, river adventure tours, skiing, bicycling, trekking, horseback riding, boating, hunting, and hot spring tours, and festival programs at the Lhasa Shoton Festival, Qangtang Horse Race Art Festival and Shannan Yalong Cultural and Art Festival.
76. What are the important Tibetan festivals?
A: In general, Tibetan festivals have a strong ethnic and religious flavor. The first day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar is known as the King's New Year. This is the most important festival of the year. Early on New year's day morning, Tibetan men and women, dressed in their holiday best, go out to exchange New year greetings and good wishes. They also go to the monastery, or sing and dance on the street, but may not visit relatives and friends.
The 15th day of the first month is the Butter Lantern Festival. During the day, people go to the monastery, while at night, a butter lantern fair is held on Lhasa's Barkor Street, which is lined with racks displaying various butter sculptures, depicting deities, human figures, birds and animals, and plants and flowers. Puppet shows are also performed to add a festive atmosphere. In rural areas, people participate in antiphonal singing contests, which sometimes go on for days at a time. this is the most celebrated festival in Lhasa.
The fourth month of the Tibetan calendar is Buddhist Month, the 15th day of which is the anniversary of Sakyamuni's birth and nirvana. During this month the Tibetan people pray for bumper harvest. The 15th day of the fifth month of the Tibetan calendar is the Lingka Festival, or the World Happiness Day, when people dress in their best and go picnicking in parks.
The Shoton Festival lasts from the first to the 30th day of the seventh month. It is concurrent with the summer prayer meetings of the three most famous monasteries in Lhasa. Since a large amount of yogurt needs to be supplied to lamas attending the prayer meetings, and Tibetan operas are performed on these occasions, the festival is named Shoton- sho meaning yogurt, and ton meaning meeting. At this time, professional and amateur performing troupes gather at Norbu Lingka to stage Tibetan operas. Around the 10th day of the month, the troupes go out to perform in cities, towns, monasteries and suburbs. Nowadays, trade fairs are also held during the Shoton Festival.
The eighth month of the Tibetan calendar is the Harvest Thanksgiving Festival, when Tibetan people sing and dance, stage songfests, hold horse races and bull fights, put on archery, stone carrying and wrestling matches and other folk sports activities to celebrate harvest. The 15th day of the 10th month is the Goddess Festival, when religious rites are held. Women are especially active at this festival, since they consider it as their own celebration. The 25th day of the of the month is the Butter Lamp Festival, which commemorates the enlightenment of Tsongkhapa, when people place burning butter lamps on the roofs of monasteries and their homes. The 29th day of the 12th month is the Ghost-Dispelling Festival, when monasteries sponsor ceremonial dances to dispel evil spirits and pray for a bountiful harvest in the coming year. Ceremony at the Potala Palace is always the grandest.
77. What are the folk customs and taboos of the Tibetan people?
A: It is important to know the local customs and taboos when touring in Tibet.
The Tibetan people practice many forms of social etiquette. Presenting hada is most commonly seen - on weddings, funerals, festive occasions, and when visiting an elderly or a respected person, or paying respects to Buddha.
Tibetans do not address people directly by their name. Usually they attach an honorific. In Lhasa, for example, people use the suffix "la." In xigaze, the prefix "Agyi" or "Ajog" is attached to a man's name.
On meeting an elderly or respected person, Tibetan take off their hats and bow, holding their hat just a few inches above the ground. On meeting a peer, they merely lower their head a little, and take off their hat to hold at their chest.
When visiting a local family, a guest will be offered highland barley wine by the host, into which he should dip his fourth finger and then flick, three times altogether. The three drops of wine are meant for worshipping heaven, earth and Tibetan ancestors. It is only then that the guest should take a sip, and have his cup refilled three times. On the host refilling his cup a third time, the guest should empty it, otherwise, the host will be insulted, and considering the guest impolite or arrogant. While seated (sitting upright on the floor with legs crossed), the host will present the guest with butter tea. The guest should wait for the host to hand over the tea and not help himself/herself to it. When receiving a gift, the guest should accept with both hands. When presenting a gift, he/she should bow and hold the gift high above the head. When offering wine or tea, the guest should hold the bowl with both hands, and his fingers should not touch its rim.
Tibetans do not cat donkey, horse or dog meat. In some places, people eat neither fish nor birds. Tibetan Buddhism also forbids the hunting and killing of wildlife.
When coming across monasteries, piles of Mani stones, pagodas and other religious structures, people should walk around them clockwise. They should not step across ritual utensils and firs basins, nor should they turn prayer wheels in the wrong direction. Finally, one should never touch a Tibetan on the head.
78. What procedures do foreigners go through to visit Tibet?
A: Foreigners with an impartial attitude are welcome to visit Tibet. They may apply with the relevant Chinese departments through Chinese embassy or consulate in their country of residence.
79. What are the routes for traveling to Tibet?
A: People can go into Tibet either by air or overland. Currently there are direct flights to Lhasa from Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi'an, Xining and Beijing. The Chengdu-Lhasa route has two or three flights a day, more than any other route. The Xi'an-Lhasa route has a flight from either terminal every Wednesday and Sunday. The Chongqing-Lhasa route has a flight from either terminal every Tuesday and Friday. The Kathmandu-Lhasa route has a flight from either terminal every Tuesday and Saturday. There are buses from Lhasa's Gonggar Airport the city proper. The bus fare is 35 yauan.
In addition, there are five overland routes.
1. The asphalt Qinghai-Tibet Highway goes from Qinghai's Xining to Lhasa via Golmud and provides convenient travel. Along the way, travelers can see Qinghai Lake (China's largest saltwater lake), the snowcapped Kunlun Mountains, the Tuotuo River (upper reaches of the Yangtze River), the pass of the Tanggula Mountains, the northern Tibet prairie, and the hot springs of Yangbajain. For this route, travelers should first take a train to Xining, provincial capital of Qinghai, and then change for train to Golmud, where there are long-distance buses to Lhasa every day. The bus ride takes 30 hours. The bus fare ranges from 150 to 210 yuan for a hard seat or a sleeper.
2. The Sichuan-Tibet Highway from Chengdu to Lhasa varies greatly in altitude. A traveler may experience four seasons within one day. It may snow heavily on the mountain. But be warm at its foot. For the most part, the highway is rugged and winding. During the rainy season, the mountainside often caves in, sending down mudslides that block the road. Therefor, when taking this route, extra time should be allowed. Scenic spots along the way include Mount Erlang, Luding Bridge, Kangding, the Jingsha River, Rawu Lake, Tangmai (known as the "black spot for mudslides"), and Nyingchi where on can experience four seasons in a day. The bus fare for this route is 525 yuan.
3. If traveling along the Yunnan-Tibet Highway, one can see Mount Cang, Erhai Lake (Dali), the ancient city of Naxi (Lijiang), Shangrial (Zhongdian), and the Hengduan Mountains. In ancient times, merchants also traveled along this route.
4. The Xinjiang-Tibet Highway from Yecheng to Lhasa has the highest altitude of all five routes. As this route is uninhabited, it is for the best part devoid of gas stations, communications, or conveniences, and the journey takes at least two weeks. However, scenery along the way is fantastic. Having no human habitation it is a veritable paradise for wildlife, where one can marvel at the sight of herds of wild Tibetan donkeys and Mongolian gazelles galloping and springing along the foot of mountains. Along the way is the Karakorum Mountains, the remains of the ancient Guge Kingdom, the sacred kangrinboqe Mountain, the sacred Mapam Yumco Lake, and the Sagya Monastery, which is the origin of the Variegated Sect.
5. The Kathmandu-Lhasa Highway features splendid natural scenery and historical sites. Entering China at the port of Zham and going across the Friendship Bridge, one arrives at Tibet's Nyalam County. After passing through Tingri, travelers may see the magnificent Himalayas. Further on, they arrive at Xigaze, Tibet's second largest city, where they may visit the Zhaxi Lhunbo Monastery. From Xigaze, they can go further on to Gyangze and then eastward to Lhasa, or westward to Ngari via Yamzhog Yumco, one of the three sacred lakes in Tibet.
80. Tourist spots in Tibet are sparsely distributed and out of way. How does one get over the transportation problem?
A: The most convenient, time-saving and safest way to travel in Tibet is by chartered bus - the most common practice. Many hotels and inns offer this service, but it is also possible to arrange through local travel agencies. The price for a chartered bus changes seasonally. The charge for a standard foreign-made cross-country vehicle is generally 3-3.5 yuan per kilometer, while a deluxe model may cost 3.5-4.5 yuan per kilometer. A minibus with 20 seats cost 5.5-6.5 yuan per kilometer. And a 40-seat coach costs 7-8 yuan per kilometer. When venturing into remote or uninhabited areas, a logistic motor vehicle is necessary for replenishment of food, fuel and other necessities and for emergency support.
81. What should one know about and prepare for traveling to Tibet?
A: The best time to travel Tibet is between April and October, and peak season is from May to September. July and August are rainy months, and there will be mudslides, cave-ins and mire on certain sections of the road, blocking the passage of vehicles. The situation is most serious when entering Tibet along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, and the sections between Lhasa and Nyingchi and between Lhasa and Ngari. Those who travel in their own car or on foot should avoid the rainy season. It is best to o in May, June, September or October.
Certain formalities are required for going into Tibet. Tour groups are encouraged and overseas groups on organized tours should go through entry formalities with the Tibet Travel Agency. Individual overseas travelers should go through formalities at the tour agencies in Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, and Golmud set up by the Tourism Administration of Tibet Autonomous Region, which receive independent travelers and provide information on Tibet travel. Tibet's travel agencies in Hong Kong and Nepal are responsible for organizing overseas tour groups.
Necessities for adventure tours include walking shoes, backpack, duffel bag, sleeping bag, air bed, raingear, tent, gas stove, water bottle, knife, sewing kit, compass, altitude meter, map, leg wrappings, kitchen utensils, cups, nylon rope, toilet paper, a lighter, an electric torch, plastic bags, sunglasses, sun block, ground sheet pad, insectifuge, camera, telescope, wrist watch and food.
Attention should be given to cold and frostbite prevention, as even in summer, a warm coat is necessary. For other seasons, or when at high altitude (above 4,500 meters above sea level), a heavy coat or down jacket will be needed.
Finally, travelers should take some medicine for colds, headaches, stomach troubles or other minor ailments. Vitamins are also recommended. To prevent sun-burn and for general comfort, sunglasses, hat, and sun block should be worn for outdoor activities.
82. What tour routes are now available for Tibet? What is the accommodation capacity of Tibet?
A: In 2000, Tibet started to organize its tourist resources into one center, five areas, five arteries and three ring routes. At the center are the cultural and sightseeing tours around Lhasa. The five areas refer to the mountaineering and trekking area of western Tibet, the ecological tourist area of eastern Tibet, the sightseeing area around the Yalong River Valley, and the wildlife and prairie tourist area in northern Tibet. The five arteries include the Sichuan-Tibet route through Chengdu, Qamdo, Nyingchi and Lhasa, the Yunnnan Tibet route through Xiaguan, Mangkam and Qamdo, the Qinghai-Tibet route through Xining, Golmud, Nagqu and Lhasa, theSino-Nepalese route through Lhasa, Xigaze, Zham and Nepal, and the Xinjiang- Tibet route through Urumqi, Yecheng and Shiquanhe. The three ring routes refer to Lhasa-Nyingchi-Shannan-Lhasa, Lhasa-Xigaze-Ngari-Nagqu-Lhasa, and Lhasa-Nagqu-Qamdo-Nyingchi-Lhasa toure. All these programs, are open to tourists. Some are being expanded.
Today, Tibet has more than 30 travel agencies of different categories and over 50 tourist hotels, including seven star-rated hotels. It has more than 400 tourist vehicles, and 3,000 or sp people working in the tourist industry.
Tibet has affiliated hotels in Beijing, Chengdu and Xi'an and has set up travel agencies and offices in Hong Kong, Nepal, Beijing and Chengdu. Before 1978, there was no tourism in Tibet, but by the first half of 2000 a total of 185,000 domestic and international travelers had been to Tibet.