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Tit for tat, Tibet official refutes Dalai Lama's anniversary speech

BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- "Hell on earth" suits perfectly the old Tibet, a Tibet official said here Friday, refuting the Dalai Lama's speech made 50 years after he went into exile.

Over the past 50 years, the Dalai Lama has made it a routine to deliver a speech on the so-called "uprising" day, or, as described by the Chinese government, the day marking his failed armed rebellion.

On March 10 this year, the "simple Buddhist monk", who has never been to Tibet since 1959, said the Chinese government have carried out a series of "repressive and violent" campaigns over the years and Tibetans were "literally experienced hell on earth."

"If 'hell on earth' was used to describe the old Tibet, it would be most appropriate," Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet regional government, told Xinhua.

"The Dalai Lama is trying to turn black into white in an attempt to mislead the public," he said.

Qiangba, who was born to an impoverished Tibetan family 62 years ago, said "the old Tibet, which was under the control of the Dalai Lama, was a feudal serfdom darker and more undeveloped than the middle ages in Europe."

The official said Tibet has enjoyed significant development over the past 5 decades and "those who are unbiased or have been to Tibet would be well aware of that."

Although some people claimed before 1959, ordinary Tibetan people could enjoy milk tea as they wished and a great deal of meat and vegetables, American Tibetologist A. Tom Grunfeld said after a 1940 survey conducted in eastern Tibet that "there is no evidence to support the picture of Tibet as a Utopian Shangrila."

The survey found that 38 percent of Tibetan families never had tea to drink, 51 percent could not afford butter and 75 percent sometimes had to eat weeds boiled with ox bones and oat or bean flour.

In his speech, the Dalai Lama defended his armed rebellion, saying that it was because of the Communist Party of China's trial of democratic reform that forced Tibetans to launch a "peaceful uprising."

Qiangba refuted the Dalai Lama's claim, saying that the essential cause of the rebellion was because the upper ruling class of the Dalai Lama group realized that the democratic reform, which was imperative under the situation, would lead to the end of feudal serfdom and the emancipation of serfs.

"The democratic reform, which was carried out in places outside Tibet then, put an end to the rule and privileges of the three major feudal lords (government officials, monasteries and nobles) there," Qiangba said.

"The reform put the feudal lords in Tibet in panic. Under that situation, they chose to launch an armed rebellion," said he.

Feudal serfdom was overthrown in most countries in the 19th centuries but the system remained in Tibet till the mid 20th century.

"The democratic reform carried out by the Communist Party of China aimed to free the serfs and slaves in Tibet," said Qiangba, also a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC).

Since the democratic reform, Tibet has undergone significant changes. Its GDP grew from 174 million yuan (25.6 million U.S. dollars) in 1959 to 39.591 billion yuan last year.

Looking back into history, Qiangba said Tibet did experience twists in its development after 1959, such as the cultural revolution (1966-1976) and communes.

But Qiangba said those problems happened at a special stage in the Chinese history and affected the whole country. "They were not problems only with Tibet," he said.

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