English Channel > Rediscovering China


CCTV.COM (10.25 2003 13:35)

    Referred to as 'Shangri-La', 'the Land of Snows', and 'the Rooftop of the World', Tibet has long exercised a unique hold on the imagination of the West. Made up of an immense plateau, over 4000 meters above sea level, Tibet is mysterious in a way few other places are.

    Most of Tibet is made up of an immense plateau that lies at an altitude of 4000 meters to 5000 meters. Situated in the Southwest of China, Tibet covers an area of more than 1.2 million square kilometers, and shares boarders with Nepal, Bhutan, and India.

    Tibetans make up about 94 percent of the total population. With a geographical area more than twice that of France, Tibet still manages only a total population of 2.6 million.

    The grasslands in northern Tibet are the largest in China 鈥 where the agriculture and animal husbandry industries are the base of the Tibetan economy.

    In Tibet, the golden rooftops of the many Buddhist temples shine everywhere. Each year Tibetan Buddhism attracts millions of pilgrims and tourists from many different countries all over the world. The strong influence of Buddhism is reflected in all the aspects of Tibetan life, to form the unique and magical atmosphere of Tibet.

    Tibetans are among the friendliest, most hospitable people in the world. And an invitation into the household tent is an opportunity not to be missed. As a visitor, you'll be welcomed, in the same manner as an honored guest. Offers of mutton meats and fragrant buttered tea as well as plenty of singing and dancing are all part of Tibetan customs.

    The Horse racing festival held in Nagqu is the grandest of the racing festivals and events held throughout Tibet each year. Dressed in traditional military attire, the Tibetans proudly display their riding skills, attracting enthusiastic crowds of locals and pilgrims. Lasting several days, many songs, dances, and performances of Tibetan drama take place during the festivities to celebrate the heroes of Tibet's past.

    The horse racing festivals and fairs are the traditional occasion for horse trade. The buying and selling of horses at these fairs attracts Tibetans from near and far for celebrations during the colorful week of activities. Shigatse is the second largest town in Tibet. Shigatse has long been an important trading town and administrative center. The main attraction in Shigatse is Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama. Built in 1447 by a nephew of Tsong Khapa, the monastery once housed over 4000 monks. Apart from a giant statue of the 27 meters high Maitreya Buddha, the monastery is also famed for its Grand Hall, which houses the opulent tomb containing 85 kilograms of gold and masses of jewels of the forth Panchen Lama. The temple is also famous for its gold and silver craftsmen, who still use traditional techniques to craft gold and silver products.

    Mi ma is an 82 year old metal-artist whose Tibetan designed and decorative silver products are all hand crafted from traditional techniques. Mi ma began his apprenticeship when he was 16 years old and during his years working as a professional craftsman has taught 4 apprentices, so that his experience as a professional craftsman is passed down by the next generation.

    Lhasa is the heart and soul of Tibet, the abode of the Dalai Lamas, and an object of devout pilgrimage. The first sight of Potala Palace, soaring over one of the world's highest cities, has heralded the marvels of this holy area to travelers for three centuries. The Palace dominates the Lhasa skyline. It is the site of the tombs of the previous Dalai Lamas, was once the seat of Tibetan government, and is the winter residence of the Dalai Lama.

    One of the architectural wonders of the world, this immense construction is 13 storeys tall and contains thousands of rooms, shrines, and statues. Construction of the present structure began during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1645 and it took more than 50 years to complete. The first recorded use of the site dates from the 7th century AD, when King Songtsen Gampo built a palace here.

    The general layout of the Potala includes the White Palace for the living quarters of the Dalai Lama, and the Red Palace for religious functions. The Red Palace contains many halls and chapels- the most stunning chapels house the jewel-bedecked tombs of previous Dalai Lamas.

    Interview: Qiangba Gesang, Director of Potala Palace Administrative Department

    The Potala Palace has a history of over 1,300 years. Nothing can compare to it in the world. On the one hand, it's unique for its architectural design; on the other hand, it has so many antiques as well as frescoes. So it covers a wide range of artistic fields.

    Until recently, few outsiders had laid eyes on the holy city of Lhasa. Locked away in its mountain fortress of the Himalayas, it is the place the tourists flock to. Here the snow-capped mountain peaks and the extraordinary colors of the lakes and the blue skies provide an unforgettable experience. But Lhasa is much more than a religious center of Tibetan Buddhism. Much of Tibet's industry is located here in Lhasa, but despite this the air remains pure and clear.

    Despite the rapidly expanding industry and increasing influx of tourists, Lhasa is still one of the cleanest cities in China. Eighteen natural preservation zones have been identified by the Tibet environmental protection organization for the preservation and protection of the natural environment.

    The Lalu wetland is a natural preservation zone in Lhasa. The wetlands cover an area of more then 62,000 square kilometers. The locals refer to the La lu wetlands as the lungs of Lhasa.

    At the same time Tibet is preserving its natural environment and fragile eco-systems, it is also simultaneously developing its industries and infrastructure.

    Interview: Environmental Worker

    The Lalu wetland is the biggest as well as the highest wetland in the world. It functions as an atmosphere regulator that monitors Lhasa's oxygen and humidity levels.

    Over recent years the Tibetan economy has greatly improved under the support of the central government and Tibetan people are gaining a stronger economic sense.

    Interview: Xu Guodi, western China specialist

    Three major strategies will be carried out for the economic development of Tibet. The first step is to develop an economy that makes full use of Tibet's unique resources. The second is to invigorate the region through education and technology. The third is through sustainable development. Though Tibet has preserved its ecology well, it's still very fragile.

    Ja shi community commission is located in Chengguan district in the city of Lhasa. During 1988 it was upgraded from a village into a town, attracting more and more people to live in this area. One of these people is Suolangbazhu, 58 years old, who lives with his wife and children in a 400-squaremeter house.

    Interview: Local Tibetan resident

    My annual income is over $3,500 and I have 1/5 hectares of land. Compared with before, we're doing very well. Our village officers are elected every three years if they get 60 percent of votes.

    The Barkhor is the holiest of Lhasa's devotional circuits. Here the medieval push and shove of the crowds, street performers, and devout tapping their foreheads to the ground at every step - is an exotic brew few newcomers can resist.

    Traditionally Tibetan people used yaks for transportation, and yaks are literally referred to by the locals as boats on the Plateau. These days with the development of roads and railways throughout this autonomous region, more and more Tibetans are enjoying the convenience of motorized transport.

    Once roaming wild throughout Tibet, in the past yaks were used by Tibetans as a means of transporting goods. These strong and vigorous animals can each carry up to 100kg for thirty days' travel. In the past Tibetan depended on these animals to transport materials. Since automobiles arrived at the gate of Potala Palace in December 1954, yaks have no longer been used as the sole means of transporting goods and materials. Over the past decade the road construction in Tibet is developing in a rapid pace.

    Jia Zuo is the director of Tibetan transportation departments. His work as the director often takes him out of the office and into the midst of the construction projects to inspect the quality and other aspects of the projects first hand. When talking about the road projects already under construction, Jai Zuo is always excited. He expects the quality and quantity of roads built during his term to constantly improve.

    The two East-West highways, three North-South highways and six passways projects will run through the whole of Tibet. The development of this road infrastructure will function as an important development to the Tibetan economy.

    The completion of the Qingzang road from Yangbajing to Lhasa is the key construction project for Tibet this year. Investment in this 66.4 kilometers long road totals more then 395,000,000 RMB. Once completed, it will be the best road in Tibet.

    Construction on the Qingzang railway started on June 29, 2001 and completion of this 1,118 kilometers long railway will mark the end of an era for Tibet's lack of train transportation. Qingzang railway starts in the east, from Qinghai and will meet the Western line in Lhasa.

    Interview: Zheng Jianzhong, Vice General Manager of Qinghai-Tibet Railway Project

    We are three to four kilometers from Lhasa. This tunnel is the "Zao'er Feng" tunnel -it's 447 meters long. Our goal is to finish before the end of this year. The Qinghai-Tibet railway will run through the Tanggula Mountains at an attitude of 5,200 meters. It's the world's highest railway ever. Nagqu is a key county in northern part of Tibet, it is also a vast grassland area, famous for it's animal husbandry.

    Interview: Local Tibetan resident

    The Nagqu Railway station will be here. And the Qinghai-Tibet railway will stop here. It's the highest railway station in the world. It'll benefit Nagqu's economy and society, especially for the 360,000 local residents.

    The construction of road and railways not only makes travel convenient for Tibetan life but also promotes the development of traditional industries in Tibetan economy.

    Today Tibetan medicines are being further tested and developed by modern science. The production and marketing of traditional Tibetan medicines is a growing industry based on long established practice and knowledge.

    Tibetan medicine has evolved over thousands of years from practices originally employed by ancient peoples living in a unique ecological enclave. Its origins have been lost in time, but it is thought the healing properties of medicinal herbs were first discovered whilst fighting diseases of their affected livestock.

    Interview: Zhan Dui, President of Tibetan Hospital

    Tibetan medicine has a history of over 2,300 years. Now it has entered the 21st century. On the one hand, we should inherit all the uniqueness about traditional Tibetan medicine. On the other hand, technological development should allow us to adapt and further develop and modernize Tibetan medicine.

    Today the medicinal properties of Tibetan medicines are gradually recognized in the modern sciences and the production of traditional medicines is a growing industry in Tibet. This is the biggest Tibetan hospital in Tibet. Doctors are treating patients combining traditional means as well as modern ways.

    I'm currently standing on Jiangsu road. The construction of which was financed by Jiangsu province. It is one of the 62 key assistance projects launched by the central government since 1994. The government aims to make more financial and economic investments to develop and improve industry sectors in Tibet. To date, total investments in the projects have exceeded 290 million US dollars.

    The energy industries, transportation construction and communication infrastructure are important factors in developing Tibetan economy.

    Interview: Ge Lai, Principal of Shigatse No. 2 Middle School

    Our school is one of the central government's 62 support projects funded with $1.7 million from Shanxi province and the city of Dalian. Since our school was set up, primary school students in Shigatse no longer need to worry about their education. So our school is a symbol of Han-Tibetan friendship.

    Rikezi No. 2 middle school is a supported project by the central government and was built in 1995. There are 21 classes with 1,660 students and the majority is Tibetan students. Every year the school sends many students to universities or professional schools.

    Wanghong is a Han nationality teacher who came from Sichuan province, and he came to Rikezi No. 2 middle school as a physics teacher in 1995. He established a cordial relationship with his Tibetan students and has now settled in Rikezi.

    Part of Tibet's first legal generation, Bai ma is pursuing a career in developing and improving the legal system in Tibet.

    Bai ma is the first generation of Tibetan lawyers. Together with three other lawyers, they set up the first provincial law firm in Tibet in 1989. She graduated from Southwestern political and law institute in the law department in 1984.

    Interview: Bai Ma, Lawyer of Tibet Snow Land Law Firm

    When I graduated in 1984, there were no law firms in Tibet. Citizens had to rely on themselves to solve disputes. If one was bitten by a dog, he could only blame on his own misfortune. In the 1990s, more people started to seek professional legal help. For example, they would turn to the law if noisy neighbors disturb them. Citizens came for advice first, then they asked lawyers to mediate. And if that failed, they'd take legal action.

    Interview: Zhuoga, Actress of Lhasa Song and Dance Troupe

    My pictures were made into postcards in the 1980s without my permission. I felt that my rights had been violated, so I came to the law firm for a consultation.

    Today Tibet is changing, in terms of economy, city development, and legal construction. Tibetans are making their best effort to improve Tibetan economy. Tibet is a place full of temptations and life.


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