BEIJING, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- A former United Nations (UN) official said she was impressed by the human rights improvements and local culture preservation in Tibet over the past 50 years.
Sirkka Korpela, former UN Ambassador to Bolivia, talked about her recent visit this summer to Tibet and the reality she saw there "with her own eyes," during an interview with China's state media, the People's Daily.
Korpela said contrary to the romantic idea prevalent in the West, she learnt that before 1959 Tibet had been a "feudal, almost medieval society," where serfs were bound to their masters'land, and that they could be brutally tortured for almost any offence against their masters from the small nobility class.
Korpela said during her visit to Tibet, she was fascinated by the beautiful scenery and impressed by the improvements in the cityscape and peoples' lives when she arrived Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
"I was impressed by the new infrastructure that is now linking Tibet to the rest of the world with very modern means of transportation: the high-altitude train, and four modern airports in different parts of Tibet," she said.
Korpela said having the chance to talk to some local educators in Tibet removed her worries about the rumored deterioration of Tibetan language.
She was told that the children there learnt three languages: Tibetan, Mandarin Chinese and English.
"...I realize these Tibetan kids will be as internationally literate as my children are," she said.
She also noted the new housing programs she saw during the trip to the countryside outside of Lhasa.
In the past, many Tibetans did not have a house of their own. In the old dwellings, the family often must share the same quarters as domestic animals.
Korpela said she witnessed a local family moving into one of the new dwellings which was a great improvement in terms of space, quality of building materials and facilities.
"And best of all: the government is subsidizing 30 percent of the new housing, which has been built in collaborative efforts by the villagers, and display the characteristics of the traditional Tibetan culture, both in terms of the materials used and the colorful decorations in the main rooms inside," she said.
She noted the life expectancy of Tibetan had increased from a mere 35 years in the past to the current 67 years.
"This is not only an impressive testament of the improvement of the human rights in Tibet during the past 50 years, but it also provides the old folks the opportunity to tell their grandchildren what life was like in the past. They will pass on the best of the Tibetan culture to their grandchildren, and they will also be able to tell how much life has improved since 1959!" she said.