Tibet delegation updates academics on progress

A delegation from China was in the UK last week to spread the word about Tibetan culture and the region's developmental achievements.

The group was headed by Zhang Yun, director and research fellow at the Institute for History Studies at the China Tibetology Research Center. Jiangyangkezhu, vice-president of the Garzê Buddhist Association and the vice-chairman of Litang County People's Congress, also led the group, alongside Xu Baiqing, assistant director of Tibetan Plateau Research at the China Academy of Sciences.

Observers said the visit, from Oct 20 to Oct 22, demonstrated the Tibetan delegation's readiness to strengthen ties with UK academics. The tour included meetings with representatives from the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and the University of Westminster. They also met with senior management at the Daily Telegraph.

Zhang said the group wanted to ensure British people were up to date with developments in Tibet.

"As academia in the UK is well respected by the media and general public, I believe there is a huge significance to enhance communications with them and let them know how Tibet has rapidly developed in the last decade," Zhang said.

The delegation took part in Developments in Tibet: Perspectives from China, a seminar at the University of Westminster on Friday evening. It offered a platform for British people to exchange views with delegates on various issues. Topics included history, development, the environment, literature, religion and society.

During the seminar, Zhang gave a comprehensive introduction to the development of Tibetan culture in modern China by showing images he took in Tibet.

"I believe the transformation made in Tibet is self-evident, as shown in the images," he said. "People in the region are truly benefitting from the support given by the central government."

Tibet is the only region that offers 15 years of compulsory education. Most other regions offer nine.

"This is a clear indication that the government's commitment to help Tibet develop is not just on paper," Zhang said.

Professor Dibyesh Anand, head of the department of politics and international relations at the University of Westminster, who chaired the seminar, noted that for a comprehensive understanding of any issue, it is important to be aware of different, even competing, perspectives.

He said he hoped students would learn from members of the delegation and that delegates would also take new ideas away with them.