EU delegation visits Tibet

From June 26 to 30, a 22-strong delegation consisting of diplomats from 15 EU member states including the United Kingdom, Portugal, Slovakia, and EU delegation to China took part in a five-day exchange visit to Lhasa and Nyingchi in southwest China's Tibet.

"The whole delegation have been really looking forward to this trip to Tibet; it has been an unforgettable experience over the last four days and it's a shame that this is last night," Hans Dietmar Schweisgut (Chinese name Shi Wei) , EU ambassador to China, expressed his feelings towards Tibet in his dinner speech in Nyingchi on the evening of June 29.

The delegation visited Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery, Tibet University, Dobu Hydropower Station, Lulang International Tourism Town, Tashigang Village Family Hotel, Mainling Farm and other places. The trip covered many areas including economy, culture, education, ecology, tourism, etc. Through these site visits, the delegation fully affirmed the harmony and stability of Tibet's society, the rapid economic development, the happiness of the people, protection of cultural heritage, freedom of religious belief and the good ecological environment. 

Focus 1: Tibetan Buddhist culture

The first stop for the delegation was to visit the Potala Palace. They were full of praise for the magnificent architecture, fine artifacts and long history.

Schweisgut said, "Tibet has a long cultural history and religious heritage. Potala Palace was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and protection of it benefits Tibet, China and the whole world." "I have been in China for four years and have been longing to travel to Tibet, to witness the real Tibet first-hand. Now that I've seen it, I can say I'm a huge fan of the place. Potala Palace is beautiful and the beauty is so real," said Valencia, Spanish Ambassador to China.

Afterwards, the delegation visited Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery. "Tibetan Buddhism has a long history, with Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple both having thousands of years of history. Having these temples preserved well today is really great for believers who come to pay tribute and worship. Seeing all these believers come here to worship and pray for their families indicates religious freedom in Tibet. Tibet is the closest place to heaven on earth," said Premoze, Slovenian ambassador to China, who has a strong interest in Tibetan Buddhist culture.

Focus 2: Cultural protection and heritage

Barbara Woodward (Chinese name Wu Baina), British ambassador to China, took notes all along the way. She asked lots of question about the economic and social development in Tibet, and showed particular interest in the education and characteristic industries. At the exchange forum, she said that educational institutions in Tibet and Britain could further strengthen exchange and benefit from mutual learning.

At Baoping Mountain beside Lhasa River, the delegation watched the Tibetan cultural epic drama, Princess Wencheng. It included around 800 performers singing and dancing on the stage, and dozens of intangible cultural heritage appeared on the magnificent stage. Bedrich Kopecky, Czech ambassador to China, and his wife were left longing for more. "Such a grand scene and towering backdrop - it was amazing," they said. Afterwards, they also proposed buying a set of Princess Wencheng DVDs to take back to show friends and relatives. After watching the performance, the wife of the Slovenian ambassador to China exclaimed, "Tonight was very impressive, especially the grand scale of the whole performance." 

Jorge Torres-Pereira, Portuguese Ambassador to China, when looking around the book collection at Tibet University, said that culture is very important and he was delighted to see the good work done towards protecting Tibet's culture. When visiting Lulang Town Center Primary School, the delegation interacted and took photos with children who are in their Tibetan language class.

Focus 3: Good ecological environment

On understanding that Tibet regards protection of ecological environment as a top priority, the ambassadors nodded with approval.

Dusan Bella, Slovakian Ambassador to China, said with sincerity, "Tibet is the back garden for the world's environmental protection and for me it's like paradise. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of the ecological environment in Tibet, and that is why the scenery is so beautiful here. They should persevere with the current ecological protection policies and seek environment-friendly solutions. These kinds of policies shouldn't just be implemented in Tibet, but be promoted all over the country."

Focus 4: Characteristic tourism industry

In Tibet, tourism has already become the pillar industry of economic development. Through gaining an understanding of the industry, the delegation developed a keen interest in Tibet's unique tourism industry.

The delegation paid visit to homes in Tashigang village in the prestigious Lulang Town, where they engaged in face to face talks with villagers. After visiting the Phuntsock Family Hotel, Bellova, wife of the Slovakian Ambassador to China, was very excited. She said, "As a foreigner I find this very interesting and somewhat incredible. The decorations in Phuntsok's house are beautiful. He told us about the huge changes that have taken place in Tibet's history as he was a witness to these changes." Nebojsa Koharovic, Croatian Ambassador to China, said to Phuntsok, "living in such a beautiful place is enough to make anyone envious."

Ambassador Barbara Woodward said that having seen such a beautiful place, she would like to encourage more British friends to travel to Tibet. The delegation said that many projects in Tibet are filled with unique characteristics, including tourism, agriculture and other areas, and there are many worth learning from.