At a time when Dharamsala and Tibet appear to be at a very vulnerable position vis-a-vis Beijing, it will be imperative for Dalai Lama as well as his advisers, to seriously measure the pros and cons of his proposed visit to China.


Observers of Beijing-Dharamsala relations are these days keenly focused on the chances of Dalai Lama visiting China for a Buddhist pilgrimage to Wutai Shan. The issue might look casual or insignificant to the uninitiated who will see nothing special about a religious leader visiting a pilgrimage site. But knowing Tibet's place in China's geo-political aspirations and the significance of present Dalai Lama in their future game, this probable event holds the potential of changing the geo-political discourse of Asia far more than any eventful development of this region in recent decades.

Signals emanating from Dharamsala over recent years have led to speculations among many Tibet watchers that despite the eight-year long dialogue (2002-2010) having failed and stalled abruptly by Beijing, the talks are still on, though at some different levels. Many among Tibet-China watchers feel that an influential section among Tibetan exile leadership is keen to pull a deal between Dalai Lama's 'Central Tibetan Administration' (CTA) in Dharamsala and the Chinese rulers of Tibet. Or, at least, to send him on a visit to China before it is too late for the ageing Tibetan leader.

Though senior functionaries in Dharamsala have been maintaining strict secrecy, yet recent developments, including an unpublicised meeting of a minister ranking Chinese official with Dalai Lama in Dharamsala few months ago, have not gone unnoticed from the prying eyes. And now a chain of signals from Beijing and other quarters confirm that Chinese leaders are desperate to receive the former exiled ruler and supreme religious leader of their colony -- even if this visit is short and just for a 'pilgrimage'.

Hu Shisheng, an important Chinese brain on Tibet related issues and a Director at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), run by the State Council of China, said on 24th February this year in Beijing that Dalai Lama's pilgrimage to Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) would be a 'historic event' and... 'really a breakthrough'. In another commentary, published a day before President Xi Jinping visited India, China's Sina.com quoted 'informed sources familiar with the situation' as saying that Dalai Lama's return to China would be a 'win-win' situation. Chinese media has widely quoted Wu Yingjie, the Deputy Secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) as saying that the talks with Dalai Lama's personal envoy about Dalai Lama's return were 'proceeding smoothly'. On 2nd Oct 2014 the French news agency AFP even quoted Dalai Lama from Dharamsala as telling its reporter that he was in informal talks with Beijing over his 'long held wish to make a pilgrimage trip to China'.

It was exactly nine years ago on 10th March 2006 when Dalai Lama used his annual address on the national 'Uprising Day' of Tibet at Dharamsala to publicly express his desire to visit China for a pilgrimage. His statement came in the middle of ongoing talks between his envoys and Beijing. Observers initially thought that this statement was yet another salvo in the ongoing war of wits between him and Beijing. People around Dalai Lama believed that his visit to Tibet or China would attract a Tsunami of Chinese and Tibetan believers which would increase his bargaining power with Beijing.

But his statement was greeted with the usual sarcastic contempt that Beijing rulers have always kept reserved for the Dalai Lama since China occupied his country in 1951 and his subsequent escape to exile in 1959. On 13th April, 2006 Qi Xiaofei, Vice-Director of the Chinese state administration for religious affairs said, "The Dalai Lama is not only a religious figure, but is also a long-time stubborn secessionist who has tried to split his Chinese motherland and break the unity among different ethnic groups."

Interestingly in July same year rumours of Dalai Lama visiting Kumbum, the most revered monastery near Dalai Lama's birth place in Qinghai, spread like a wild fire. Soon the town was flooded with thousands of Tibetan and Chinese devotees to have a view of him. But as soon as the crowds started reaching a critical level the Chinese government media announced that it was a hoax and security forces pushed out the crowd. Observers believe that it was a well planned Chinese move to have a fair idea of and to prepare in advance for the public reaction if Dalai Lama actually comes on a visit.

After a gap of nine years this sudden 180 degree turn in Beijing's response to the idea of Dalai Lama's visit to China clearly reflects a new kind of self confidence which is replacing the characteristic irritability, scepticism and even fear psychosis demonstrated by the Chinese leaders on anything related to Dalai Lama or Tibet over past six decades. It is this very change in the Chinese gestures and public articulation which deserves serious attention of the Dalai Lama, his advisors and his supporters when they sit to weigh the advantages and risks of the Tibetan leader's proposed pilgrimage to China or fresh negotiations with Beijing.

Looking back at how deftly Beijing and Dharamsala have been playing their cards in past two decades, one cannot escape the stark contrast. While Beijing has been making impressive strides on almost every front to improve its grip on Tibet and check-mate the international opposition to its Tibet policy, Dharamsala has been consistently frittering away all the advantages and virtues that Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetans had earned with great efforts since 1950s in their struggle against Chinese occupation of Tibet.

It is difficult for anyone to predict how much religious virtues or political mileage Dharamsala can hope, if at all, from Dalai Lama's visit to China. But we have a long history of Tibet-China relations to believe that Tibet or Dalai Lama have never been a match to Beijing's skills in interpreting or showcasing any positive step from Dalai Lama as an endorsement or confirmation of the communist leaders' actions and claims on Tibet. Most glaring example was the Dalai Lama's visit to China in 1954 which Beijing leaders presented to the world as an endorsement of Chinese rule over Tibet. It therefore leads one to believe that the proposed visit of Dalai Lama to China in present situation is bound to fill all that moral, legal, political and strategic void which China has been miserably missing about her colonial control over Tibet, especially since 1959 flight of Dalai Lama into exile.

As a diehard team of optimists and well meaning people, Dharamsala might be hopeful of driving a lot of world focus on Tibet through such a visit. It may also have many reasons to believe that a visit of Dalai Lama to China can open new doors for negotiations. Or, it will help Dalai Lama to understand the real intentions of Chinese leaders on Tibet. Dharamsala must also be quite genuine about its own intentions and expectations. But with centuries long unhappy experience of Tibetan leadership in dealing with China, it will be too naive to believe that they can beat China in extracting advantages out of any given situation.

Therefore sending Dalai Lama on a China visit in a situation when odds are heavily stacked against Tibet vis-a-vis China, there is a serious risk of confusing, demoralizing and finally losing all the three constituencies on whose support Dalai Lama has attained his popularity and Tibet has survived as an issue all these years in the world conscience. These constituencies are:

- Tibetan masses, living under the Chinese rule or in exile, who have successfully braved and maintained their resolve against Chinese colonialism while enduring all difficulties and dangers;

- Tibet support groups across the world who relentlessly and successfully gave an international dimension to the cause of Tibet and;

- the international community which includes parliaments, political leaders, civic society and action groups whose deep faith in democratic values and human rights of Tibetans gave Dalai Lama and Tibet the support and strength on which they stand today.

At a time when Dharamsala and Tibet appear to be in a highly vulnerable position vis-a-vis Beijing, it will be imperative for Dalai Lama as well as his advisors, to seriously measure the pros and cons of his proposed visit to China. To put these risks in specific terms:

One, the travel of a 'refugee' Dalai Lama to the same country from where he escaped 56 years ago on the ground that the conditions created by the colonial occupants of his country were too difficult and inhuman to live there, will amount to no less that issuing a 'no objection certificate' to whatever China has been doing in Tibet all these years. As an obvious corollary to this he is bound to lose his political, legal and moral identity and rights as a 'refugee' on his return to exile from such a visit.

Two, his visit will send this message to those millions of brave Tibetans who have endured all the atrocities and injustice at the hands of their colonial masters, that since their supreme leader has no problem with China, they too must stop bickering against Chinese occupation. Self immolation by more than 130 Tibetans in recent years (136 on record so far) to express their frustration against the Chinese colonial rule over Tibet only proves that unlike the dominant group of Tibetans in Dharamsala who appear to be pushing Dalai Lama to give up or patch up, the Tibetan people inside Tibet have not given up their national resolve or courage to face the Chinese regime. But the Dalai Lama visiting China and hugging Beijing leaders, is bound to deflate all the moral steam, patriotic zeal and national resolve out of Tibetan masses.

Three, Tibet support movement across the world has already lost most of its energy and enthusiasm because of Dharamsala's near-fanatic diktats against anti-China postures in recent years. It will be near impossible for these support groups to hold on to their cadres and support base when the world watches their hero hugging and shaking hands with the same 'villains' whom these groups have been opposing all these years. Once this support base and organizational structure crumbles or melts away, it will take another life time for Dalai Lama or his establishment to resuscitate international Tibet support movement back to life.

Four, enormous world media coverage of the visit of Dalai Lama to mainland China on the invitation and hosting of Tibet's colonial masters will simply leave this clear and unambiguous signal to the world that "all problems between the Dalai Lama and China have been sorted out". This means that all those individuals, organizations and action groups across the world who loved, admired and supported Dalai Lama simply because he was the best symbol of fight against the tyranny of colonialism, communism and anti-democratic powers will be made to believe that he no more needs their support.

Five, Beijing is bound to present this visit of Dalai Lama as the endorsement and certification of China's position on Tibet from none other than the supreme leader of Tibet and Tibetans. Hence it will lay its claim over all the respect, credibility and sheen that it had lost due to its sad record as a colonialist occupier of Tibet.

Six, if the Dalai Lama chooses China as the destination of his Buddhist pilgrimage, the communist masters of Beijing are bound to lap it up as the final 'ISO' certification of China as world's 'Buddhist Super Power' by the supreme spiritual leader of Buddhism. It will be interesting to see how a Dalai Lama and his exile establishment who have spent their life time in painting colonial rulers of their country as 'anti religion', 'anti Buddhism' and 'destroyers of Dharma' will manage this contradiction?

Seven, and last, but surely not the least, is the dreadful scenario of this happy looking marriage between Beijing and the Dalai Lama going to the rocks any day in future. Having dealt with China all their life, who else understands better than the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetans the real levels of honesty and loyalty that Beijing leaders hold towards their own commitments or agreements with others? On such a fateful day Tibetans would be shocked to discover that there is no one standing behind them as all cheering and clapping crowds have already melted away and the Tibet support movement has closed its shop long ago. In the eventuality of Beijing masters of Tibet turning back to their old games in Tibet, it is anybody's guess how much enthusiasm or commitment the world would be left with to save the Dalai Lama and his countrymen once again?

It is therefore high time for everyone who stands by the Tibetan people to realize and accept that Dharamsala has already lost a significant share of his political and strategic ground on the Tibetan front to Beijing and stands on an utterly weak and vulnerable ground vis-a-vis its (all) mighty opponent. Even his most optimistic sympathizers and supporters would agree that the Dalai Lama has nothing significant to gain from a Chinese 'pilgrimage' except some media grand-standing or, may be, some spiritual virtues as a practicing Buddhist. But who else other than the Dalai Lama himself would understand that such 'gains' are too petty and personal for a man who is already the darling of world media and is so deeply revered as the embodiment of Avalokiteshwara -- the God of Compassion?

Many critics of Dharamsala have expressed fears that a dominant section among the Tibetan exile leadership appears desperate on cobbling up a deal with China on whatever terms. But even a junior student of history or diplomacy can testify with full confidence that history, especially the history of nations and peoples, keeps changing and that the world has consistently witnessed the mightiest of regimes melting away into oblivion without a whimper.

Innumerable examples of countries like India and Israel would help Tibetan leadership to understand that the greatest strength of a nation does not lie in opting for most comfortable solutions in a crisis, but in enduring difficult times and wait to be available on the day when history holds your rightful share to be returned to you. It will require a deep rethinking and detachment on the part of the Dalai Lama to distinguish between the historic responsibilities which his great institution has bestowed upon him and the current desperation that is guiding a dominant section among his advisors.

On the part of such group of desperate advisors too, they are advised not to lose their faith in Dalai Lama's political, social and spiritual wisdom. They should understand that by transferring his political powers to a democratically elected exile 'government' of Tibet he has already empowered and freed the Tibetan society to take Tibetan struggle far beyond the physical limits of his own life span or even relying on the institution of Dalai Lama in their struggle. This means that Dalai Lama has already realized the capacity of Tibetan society to take ahead its national struggle for many generations to come irrespective of whether next Dalai Lama is leading them or not.

As a professed follower of Mahatma Gandhi Dalai Lama is already aware of the enormous powers that Gandhian way of thinking and action holds. Therefore, a far better option for him would be to adopt some of the techniques which Gandhi successfully employed in dealing with the British colonial Raj that was far more powerful than today's China. For example, by sitting on a hunger strike for the cause of those 135 Tibetan who gave the supreme sacrifice for the freedom and human rights of their colonized countrymen, Dalai Lama can shake the world conscience far deeper than by visiting Wutai Shan and getting photographed by the international media as he shakes hands of the occupiers of his nation.

The author is a senior journalist and a Tibetologist with more than 30 years of association with the Tibet movement. He can be contacted at v.kranti@gmail.com





自八十年代以來每年倆到三千多名藏人包括孩童離開西藏陸續的踏上流亡印度的旅程,他們翻山越嶺,越過饑寒交迫的冰天雪地,承受各種艱難險阻抵達目的地印度北部達然薩拉,其目的大多數是一致的。第一拜見自己的精神領袖尊者達賴喇嘛,第二能夠學習本民族傳統語言文化宗教。(阿波羅網 aboluowang.com)














转自 https://www.tibet.org.tw/com_detail.php?com_id=460




只要我们稍读藏人自己写就的历史,如夏格巴. 旺秋德丹先生的《西藏政治史》和达赖喇嘛尊者自传《流亡中的自在》 ,就会发现:历史上西藏是个独立的国家。即使早期的西藏史书,如十四、五世纪的《朗氏家族史》(1)《红史》(2)《青史》(3) 等,虽然不可能强调这一点,但一桩桩历史事件都鲜明地呈现着西藏文化的同一性,民族的同一性,并且,西藏政府是从内部产生的,从来都不是任何一个国家政权的傀儡, 尤其是西藏还有着明确的疆域,而这一切,正是国家的特征。

过去中国人写就的历史,包括《唐书》《资治通鉴》 《清史稿》等,提到西藏时,也都是作为一个国家的,甚至作为一个强大的国家。如《旧唐书. 吐蕃传》就有“蕃国展礼”“蕃国守镇”“大渡水西南,为蕃界”等语。

另外,那些历史上与西藏发生过战争和签属过条约的国家 ,毫无疑问,也都把西藏看作一个独立的国家的。如1684年《西藏拉达克条约》、1856年《藏尼条约》、1904年《藏英拉萨条约》、1912年《藏蒙乌兰巴托条约》、1914年《藏英联合声明》、1914年《藏英通商章程》等等。







但是,元朝其实是蒙古帝国,它与中国之间是征服与被征服的关系。尽管当时西藏也是被蒙古征服的国家,不过,西藏高僧被尊为国师,巴思八还创制了蒙文。整个西藏由藏人自己(萨迦政权)管理。荷兰藏学家迈克尔.C. 范普拉赫在《西藏的地位》一书中总结了蒙藏关系:“蒙古对西藏的征服统治与蒙古对中国的征服统治之间并没有任何联系。蒙古与西藏的关系是民族、文化、尤其是通过宗教建立的两个民族密切友好的关系,这种密切的关系不管是蒙古或西藏均未与中国人一起分享。”


清朝是满州人建立的王朝。并且,与西藏之间是“供施”关系, 即老师与学生的关系,这在《西藏的地位》(第七章“各种政治实体的法律地位”)中,分析得很具体。需要指出的是,中国御用学者一直把这种“供施关系”偷换为“朝贡关系”,以证明西藏与中国的隶属关系。其实,当时被中国归为“朝贡”关系的国家很多,在《西藏的地位》一书中,就例举了高丽、泰国、缅甸、蒙古、老挝、葡萄牙、尼泊尔、爪哇等等。那么,为什么中国“学者”没有把以上国家都归为中国的一部分呢?是不是就因为西藏已进入了殖民者的血盆大口,想怎么说就怎么说了?

然而,中国并没有因为谎言被揭穿而回归历史,相反,近年的白皮书,甚至声称“自从人类活动以来”西藏就是中国的一部分了。因此,国际著名藏学家、印第安那大学教授艾略特•史伯岭(Elliot Sperling)博士说:“对中国而言,历史根本不是一个可以拿来衡量中国主权主张的客观标准……只是政府与党的工具,假如无法达成想要的政治目的,即可弃之如蔽屣。” (5) 


曾看到“人民日报”发表过一篇名为《什么是民族自决权》的文章。 洋洋洒洒,头头是道,很是支持“民族自决权”。但读到下面这句话时,不由得倒抽一口冷气:“在多民族国家中,少数民族享有与同一国家内其他民族平等的权利,但一般意义上的少数民族不是民族自决权的主体,个人也不能因为属于某一民族而随意主张所谓的自决权。”




“当年的十七条协议,在西藏噶厦政府和中国中央政府之间签订,只覆盖了历史上噶厦政府政治管辖的西藏,而不涉噶厦政府管治范围之外的‘四省藏区’,即传统西藏的康和安多两地。” (6)





基于西藏独立的历史事实和《联合国宪章》的相关规定,西藏人民毫无疑问拥有“自决权”。因而达赖喇嘛尊者在流亡之初,也把恢复西藏的独立地位作为目的。但从1974年起, 根据国际形势等变化,尊者又提出了解决西藏问题的“中间道路”,即在中国框架下,实现名符其实的自治。但这并不意味着承认了中国当局的“自古以来”说,相反,达赖喇嘛尊者在《流亡中的自在》一书中,对《十七条协议》提出了尖锐的质疑:





(2)《红史》又名为《乌兰史册》,为蒙古语译名。作者为蔡巴. 贡噶多吉,早年为蔡巴万户长,后出家为僧。此书作于十四世纪。

(3)《青史》又名《图博雪域佛法如何出现和传播的故事》 作者为管. 宣奴贝。为著名的学者和译师。 此书作于十五世纪,后被俄罗斯藏学家乔治罗维奇 (George de Roerich)和根敦群佩合译为英文,名为Blue Annals






(9) 摘自达赖喇嘛自传《流亡中的自在》第四章 避难南藏 第75页。




锡金隆德寺      朱瑞摄于2013年2月







“既不是西藏,也不是锡金,是不丹,不过,我来隆德寺出家五十多年了。”老僧人一边说着,一边打开了橱柜,拿出一双崭新的图伯特传统靴子。靴脸是白色的氆氇,前尖向上翘起,红色的靴腰, 黄色的缎子镶边。接下来,老僧人又拿出了两根黄色缎带,绑上了靴腰。随后,他又系上了一个华丽的水袋,披上一个崭新的深红色袈裟……他的打扮,说实话,我只在古老的西藏录相中才看到过,此刻,仿佛时间倒流,我回到了从前的从前,回到了绚烂的图伯特。




——选自我的长篇纪实《被消失的国家》第三章 锡金


“Windhorse, Windhorse, Please Carry André Home…” By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was posted on her blog on February 1, 2012. The original post, although written in December 2007, was only posted a few days ago along with a new introduction by Woeser that has also been translated below. 

The sudden passing of André Alexander has saddened many and he will be greatly missed. For reader who would like to read more about his incredible work with Tibet Heritage Fund, please follow the link: http://www.tibetheritagefund.org/

I want to start by saying that I only met André twice but I always wanted to write about him. I once wrote an article, about him and his organisation Tibet Heritage Fund and about how he was made to leave Lhasa by the authorities. He told me not to publish it then because he one day wanted to return to Lhasa.
I often flick through the pages of the heavy photo book he gave me “The Temples of Lhasa”, he is the author and in the book is the Lhasa of his mind’s eye that today has already changed. Many Lhasa people remember him, they all call him André, remember his slight frame, curly blonde hair and how he liked to wear Tibetan jackets.

I really like the small publication produced by Tibet Heritage Fund ‘A Brief Introduction of Historic Architecture in Lhasa Barkhor’. Black and white hand-drawn maps, folded pages, in the style of traditional Tibetan paper. Like a tiny, invisible museum, on display are drawings on paper of the Barkhor. In the fine and simple pictures, I see the life of Lhasa people, giving me endless things to imagine and sets off nostalgia, no matter how much I look at them, I can’t look at them enough. However, much has already been badly damaged, mottled traces and crumbling shadows mark the current situation of Lhasa people.

André started to restore old buildings in Lhasa but one day upset the officials. One time, he told experts from the United Nations who evaluate cultural heritage that a department store was built on the original site of an aristocratic house that was three centuries old… In 2002, after being expelled from Lhasa, André and Tibet Heritage Fund did a lot of work for the preservation of Beijing hutongs. It seems that later this could also not be continued. I heard that he went to the Himalayan region of Ladakh and other places where historic buildings and monasteries could be restored. On Facebook I would see photos of him and he’d be amongst ruins or in buildings that were being repaired.

Two months ago I wrote André a letter. Officials and businessmen were collaborating on a large shopping complex in Lhasa near the old city and there was work around the clock to extract groundwater for this “Divine Times Square” project, sending Lhasa people into panic, I asked André if this would all cause damage.

André, grieved, said, “Water is a big problem in Tibet because big hydropower stations are being constructed everywhere. Already, Lhasa’s environment has been seriously damaged and polluted, greedy developers, supported by greedy government officials are turning Lhasa valley into a big factory. If the Lhalu wetlands become dry, then it will all be too late.”

I still had questions that I wanted to ask him, I also wanted to tell him that that I wrote about him in my book “Tibet: 2008″ that was published last year. But the just turned 47 year old André suffered a sudden heart attack and died on January 21 in Berlin… On his Facebook page I looked at all his photos and saw how happy he looked in the photos from when he lived in Lhasa, looking youthful, these were the most beautiful.

André’s former girlfriend Lharigtso was our translator when we met, full of sorrow, she shared these touching stories about André:

“André was fascinated by the architecture of Tibet, the nature and the culture, and had a warm connection to it. He could wander around the Jokhang Temple, Ramoche and many small temples every day. He said that the Lhasa fried potatoes street food was his favourite but later said that the potatoes were tasting worse and worse: “When it’s made by Gyami (Chinese), it doesn’t taste good.”

His familiarity with the geography of Lhasa was always something I admired. Every time we would be in the old part of the city, I’d follow him and his brisk pace and discover many small lanes and alleys, it surprised me a lot!

From 2003 to the present, the changed environment of Lhasa upset him to tears. Walking in the Barkhor, sometimes he would suddenly stop, cover his chin with his right arm, his head shaking. I’d see tears welling up in his blue eyes…

He later went to Lhasa several times. In 2008 he went to Amdo with his parents and then took a train to Lhasa. In 2010, 2011 and even a month ago he’d been in Lhasa.

André liked to eat sweet things, he liked to watch films and would sometimes cry when watching cartoons… From 14 or 15 years of age he became vegetarian but he would bite at his fingers and I used to say, you are eating your own meat haha …. he most liked to take his small Swiss army knife and trim his own hair, this was when he was most relaxed…these are the kinds of things he would do …”

A friend wrote the following on André’s Facebook and it’s also something I’d like to say to André: “Preservation of architectural heritage in the Himalayas will never be the same now that André has left us. May the windhorse of the Himalayas and Tibet take you higher and higher to the field of absolute serenity and peace. And may your journey be filled with new discoveries and may you encounter the Devas, Dakinis, the Protectors, the Vidyadharas of India and Tibet and all those deities of the cosmic lineage and share with them the story of your life.. Bon Voyage my friend, bon voyage gentle soul……….. ”

Windhorse, windhorse, please carry André home…

Finally, here is the article I wrote about André four years ago and is my tribute to him. The photos above are from his time in Lhasa.

“The Westerners Restoring the Old Lhasa City”
By Woeser

No one knows how Tibet Heritage Fund (THF) offended the Chinese authorities in Tibet. It has been five years since they were expelled from Lhasa in 2002. THF is a nongovernmental and non-profit international organisation. It was founded in 1996 in Lhasa by André Alexander from Germany, Pimpim de Azevedo from Portugal and a few other people. It mainly focuses on ‘researching and protecting the historic city Lhasa’. Even today, many Tibetans in Lhasa including lamas and ordinary people are always thinking of them. They say that they have never seen people who cherished the old buildings in Lhasa so much. THF worked with a more serious attitude than even the local people, and it worked with heart, which sometimes made local people feel guilty. Why did the government have to urge them to leave?

Some say that its work was so excellent that it made the authorities who were meant to ‘serve the people’ feel ashamed. It is listed on the website of THF that since 1996 when the restoration plan for the old city of Lhasa was started, “THF had completely repaired 12 historic residences and 1 temple, basically restored 3 residences, done emergency repairs for 18 residential buildings, upgraded water supply and sanitation facilities for more than 1,000 residents in the old city, built 2 public toilets, paved laneways, rebuilt 1 and restored 1 stupa, reinforced the fifteenth century frescoes in an ancient temple in the south of Lhasa. The total investment above was over 800,000 US dollars. It had provided job and training opportunities for more than 300 Tibetans.” In fact, they have saved 76 historic and traditional buildings in and around Lhasa.

Some say that they had uncovered the reality of the old buildings in Lhasa in both publications and on internet, which enraged the authorities which alleged to well protected Tibetan culture. For example, in the album of paintings named ‘A Brief Introduction of Historic Architecture in Lhasa Barkhor’, it is said that ‘the ancient architecture and blocks in the old city in Barkhor were continually destroyed during the process of urban construction since 1980′. On every Barkhor map that was drawn by local painters, the fragmentary shape and mottled trace of the architecture seems to show that what disappears with the demolition is not only the old buildings, but also a nation’s way of life. In their website, THF pointed out that “since 1993, an average of 35 historic buildings have been demolished. If this speed was to be maintained, the remaining historic buildings would all disappear in less than four years’ time.”

Some others say that what they did was only to work hard with the Tibetan workers, but ignored the prevalent ‘hidden rules’ that were popular in Lhasa and even the whole of China. Restoring urban buildings is a profitable project, and many corrupt officials, from top to bottom, are hoping to get profit from it. But THF had never bribed the officials, in which case the officials would rather give the project to Chinese construction companies that know the ‘hidden rules’ well and would make the officials benefit from the project. However, there has to be a good reason to expel THF, and in Tibet, the most severe punishment must have something to do with politics. This is why one day in 2002 the state dictatorship authorities sent a car to take them to a plane to leave Lhasa.

Over the years, I’m filled with adoration and respect to THF’s work. I have downloaded all the text and images on its website, and I have also been asking about its situation after leaving Lhasa. Not long ago I looked at the English version of the photo book ‘The Temples of Lhasa’, and my admiration for THF has increased. If it was not true respect and love for Tibetan culture, there would never be such benevolent spirit and abundant energy for THF to work until today. THF is the eyewitness of how Tibetan traditional culture faces the impact of Sinicisation and globalisation, and how Tibet struggles to maintain its own culture. Just like what André Alexander said sadly, ‘each time I go to Tibet, the old houses are significantly reduced – a stone, a brick, a lane, a street, even the dogs are “disappearing”…’