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China commits 70 million dollars to preserve Tibet culture: group
Fri Jun 6, 6:01 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - China has agreed to commit 70 million dollars to an international fund for preservation of culture in Tibet, according to a global non-profit group which is part of the agreement.
The money will be used to support important cultural infrastructure projects in the Tibet autonomous region, including work to refurbish and preserve cultural relics and monasteries, the Louise Blouin Foundation said Friday.
"This unique and significant agreement is aimed at preserving Tibetan culture," French-Canadian magazine publisher and philanthropist Louise Blouin MacBain, who heads the foundation, told AFP.
MacBain said Beijing had agreed to allow Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala to participate and "provide oversight" in the cultural preservation projects.
The agreement was reached recently between her and Sun Jiazheng, the vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a top political advisory group, and Culture Minister Cai Wu during a recent trip to Beijing as well as Tibet.
She would hold talks with the Dalai Lama's representative to the Americas, Tashi Wangdi, in New York on June 16 on the issue.
"I think this is the first model in the world where we approach a peace process or foreign affair issue through culture and I think it is going to be a model which we are going to be using for the future in Africa and the Middle East," she told AFP.
Beijing will provide its share of the fund over a five year period.
"We are going to welcome any head of state or country to contribute to this fund. This is an international fund," said MacBain, among the first foreigners allowed to visit Tibet's capital Lhasa since Beijing's crackdown on protests in the Himalayan territory in March.
The Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 Tibetans have been killed and about 1,000 hurt in the Chinese crackdown on the latest unrest. China says Tibetan "rioters" and "insurgents" have killed 21 people.
MacBain also said that the foundation would convene its annual global creative leadership summit in Beijing in 2009.
The Chinese government has agreed to send a large delegation to this year's summit in New York in September, where a forum will be held with Chinese and Tibetan representatives on the Tibet issue and "peaceful coexistence."
It will also provide an opportunity for a dialogue with China on globalization issues such as human rights and the environment, she said.
"I think working together to find a solution rather than pointing fingers is just a better approach and all I can say is that the Chinese are very open for discussions and change but they can't change overnight," she said.
"We need to respect their incremental change and to support them."