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FUYING: THE OLYMPIC TORCH IS UNDIMMED
2008/04/05

The Olympic torch comes to London tomorrow. Though some will use it as an opportunity to protest, the Olympics is for all. The recent violent incidents in Tibet should not detract from this wonderful day. China is committed to solving problems in Tibet peacefully. I sincerely hope, the Chinese nationals here will also enjoy the festivity and avoid involvement in any confrontational activities.

The beauty ofTibet brought me back there time and again. Its distinct cultural appeal and unique history gives Tibet a special place in China. I remember seeing men and women prostrating themselves in front of the Jokhang Temple, old women spinning their prayer wheels and young monks earnestly debating religious philosophy. Who would not feel deeply moved by their piety.

In the frenzied debate overTibet, a few facts are forgotten. Tibet has been part of China since the 13th Century. It is part of China's family of 56 ethnic groups - I myself am from an ethnic minority. The title of the Dalai Lama was conferred by the Qing emperor back in 1653. The enthronement of the current 14th Dalai Lama was approved by the central government and witnessed by an official from Beijing in 1940.

Although the traffic of exchanges betweenTibet and other parts of China became thin during internal turmoil and external invasion, the status of Tibet as part of China had not changed. 1951-1959 saw a harmonious relationship between the Dalai Lama and central government. Had it not been for the armed rebellion in 1959 and foreign interference, it might not have been such an issue, as it is today.

NowTibet is fast growing. Investment and assistance is pouring in. Its economy grew at 13.4% in the past 10 years. The average life span of a Tibetan was 35 years in 1959. It is 67 years now. The prosperity has also benefited religious sites. In the 5 years, nearly £20m pounds were spent on repairing Dalai Lama's official residence Potala Palace and his summer palace Norbulingka, and Sakya Monastery. Lhasa is now recovering from the pain of the rioting and will open for tourism on May 1.

China is half way in its reform. It has taken 200 million people out of poverty and starvation in three decades, a basic foundation for real human rights. Fast growth has also created big environmental and social problems. We have met many setbacks in the past, but have proven to be a nation capable of learning and improving itself. The harmonious society as a goal will inspire us to face the problems and work for a better future for all.

China is trying to embrace the world. On Sunday, Beijing and London shall be one. The two peoples will share in the Olympic dream. I support the London relay on behalf of the people of China.

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