China Announces $40M Tibet Project
[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 02/06/26; June 26, 2002.]
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 9:12 a.m. ET
BEIJING (AP) -- China on Wednesday announced a $40 million restoration of sacred buildings in Tibet, including the Potala Palace in Lhasa that was the Dalai Lama's home before his flight into exile 43 years ago.
Work will focus on repairing the 1,300-year-old Potala's foundations, which are sinking, as well as protecting the structure against weathering and insect infestation, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Restorers, who include scientists and engineers, have identified 57 places with structural problems, the report said.
Also to be restored, according to Xinhua, were the Norbuglinkha, the Dalai Lama's summer palace just outside Lhasa, which was built in 1751, and the 1,000-year-old Sagya Lamassery, famed for its murals and other artworks.
Workers will also erect a new museum to house relics, the report said. The five-year restoration will closely preserve the three structures' original look, it said.
"We will ensure the work on the project is superior by the use of up-to-the-minute technology," the report quoted Gao Qiang, a deputy secretary general of the State Council, China's cabinet, as saying.
Work got under way Wednesday with a grand ceremony in Lhasa presided over by Buddhist laity chanting sutras, it said.
The restoration would be the second for the Potala in recent years. The first large scale restoration ran from 1989-1995 at a cost of $6 million.
Chinese communist zealots ransacked temples across Tibet during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, killing or expelling their monks.
China has rebuilt many monasteries since the 1980s and encouraged tourists to visit the region. Supporters of the Dalai Lama's Tibetan government in exile in India accuse China of cynically exploiting Tibet's cultural heritage to win tourist dollars while undermining the region's traditional institutions.
Chinese troops entered Tibet in 1951 and Beijing claims the region has been part of Chinese territory for centuries. The Dalai Lama, Tibet's supreme leader, fled to India after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
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