The following is a speech made by Spanish Tibetologist Juan Ignacio Preciado Idoeta on the Second Forum on Tibet's Development held in Rome, Italy on Oct. 21, 2009.
Since the 1950s, especially in the past few years of this century, Tibet has made very rapid and astonishing economic progress in modernization. No one can deny the remarkable achievements made in Tibet.
I went to Lhasa for the first time in 1996, when there were no street lamps on Beijing Road, so I had to bring along an electric torch at night to avoid running into a wire pole or falling into a ditch. If it rained heavily, Barkhor Street would be very muddy. Now Barkhor Street paved with cobblestones is brightly lit by neon lights and street lamps at night; and the old houses on both sides of the street have been renovated, showing the traditional style.
Probably someone will say that Tibet has been modernized because Lhasa is the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, which attracts lots of foreign tourists every day. As a matter of fact, all the places in Tibet have been modernized, ranging from Ngari Autonomous Prefecture in the west to Gannan, Aba and Muli autonomous prefectures in the east, and from Haibei Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai to Nyingchi Prefecture in the south and Deqen Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan. I have witnessed the development and modernization of all these regions.
It is certain that some people will take a skeptical attitude toward Tibet's development, modernization, purpose and results. Those who accept the propaganda blindly believe that the purpose of Tibet's development and modernization is to assimilate and Hanize the Tibetan people; and that the Tibetan culture (including Tibetan traditional customs and religion) will be impaired and finally be destroyed.
In fact, in many other places in the world, even in the United States and West Europe, such phenomenon can be seen ?the ancient ethnic group and culture have died out, or will be perished in a short or a middle period.
We don't need to worry about the extermination of the Tibetan culture, because the modernization of Tibet is totally different from that in many other countries and regions.
In the past 14 years, I have often resided in the areas inhabited by the Tibetan people and left my footprints in the most parts of Tibet. I have seen the great changes in Tibet with my own eyes. Therefore, I can give many examples to prove that the development of Tibet in the past few years has not impaired the Tibetan culture, and on the contrary, the Tibetan culture has got great benefits from Tibet's development. In addition, the Chinese government has made great efforts to protect the Tibetan culture and religion, such as the renovation of the monasteries and ethnic architecture in Tibet and the popularization of the Tibetan language.
As everyone knows that language and religion are the basic pillars of a culture. At present, these two pillars in the Tibetan culture are much firmer than ever before after Tibet has taken on the road of modernization for a few years.