YES and NO.

YES - during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, under the “Smash the Four Olds” campaign, religious institutions and their statuary along with traditional arts and customs were destroyed throughout all of China.

NO - since the 1980s, Buddhism and other religions were encouraged to flourish although subject to government control. Despite that control, I could see the obvious resurgence of Buddhist temples everywhere in Tibet and the rest of China. It is undisputed that the Chinese government have injected millions of dollars in rebuilding Tibetan Buddhist temples and supporting their functioning.

NO - traditional Tibetan culture is promoted nationally. In the Fall of 2008, I read an article in the English language Shanghai Daily News announcing a major conference on traditional Tibetan medicine in Shanghai.  Announcements of Tibetan conferences, festivals, and “nights” are somewhat routine throughout China. There doesn’t seem to be any attempt to stifle Tibetan culture. In actuality, there are many programs to promote and sustain Tibetan culture throughout China.

At Central University of National-Minorities ("MInzu U"), where I taught in 2009-2010, there is a Tibetology major, almost exclusively comprised of ethnic Tibetan students.

In the Fall of 2010, I attended a well-publicized exhibit of modern Thangka art in Beijing. Several young Thangka artists from Lhasa were present at the exhibition, including two I had met during my summer in Lhasa, 2010.

YES AGAIN!! -- Tibetan culture - today, to the extent that it is being eroded or “destroyed,” seems to be by modernization - of global pop culture, technology, fashion, and a chance to get off the farm or grassy plateau and into a city lifestyle. Even nomads have solar panels over their yurt-like tents, cell phones, and boom boxes blaring as they sit around while their yaks graze. They have added trucks and tractors to their traditional horses.

In the summer of 2010, I saw teen-age Tibetans practice Hip-Hop dancing on weekends at the school I taught at. One night, there was a concert of heavy-metal Tibetan bands. Many young Tibetans know as many Hong Kong Pop Songs and Michael Jackson tunes as they knew Tibetan songs. They follow Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber with a fan's fervor. A number of young university educated Tibetans have or wish to study in an English speaking country.

NO AGAIN!! - During my 10 days in Tibet, Tibetans everywhere spoke Tibetan openly, dressed in Tibetan style, drank Yak butter tea everywhere, and cooked and ate Tibetan food. Tibetans have informed me that schools are initially taught in Tibetan.  It's in later grades, that Chinese assumes prominence as the main language of instruction. In upper middle school, English also becomes a mandatory language.

Unlike during my childhood in America, when Americans would rudely shout at me and my family to “Speak English, you’re in America.” - I never saw this happen to Tibetans despite the large number of Han soldiers, workers, and tourists in Tibet. My guide, who is proudly Tibetan, would have made a point of letting me know if this were a pattern or had happened in our presence. He never mentioned this as a problem.

My guide’s only comment on limitations on the use of Tibetan language was that in schools, Tibetan cannot be used all the time, but not that it was completely banned at any point of the education experience.

From seeing many Tibetans in Shanghai and Beijing, they do not seem to be under pressure to dress, eat, walk, and talk like the majority Han nationality.

NO AGAIN!! All the hotels and the restaurants my guide took us to were Tibetan owned-and- operated businesses. They ran things the way they wanted to.  In one huge Tibetan art goods store in the Bharkor, the female Tibetan owner was loudly and rather animatedly instructing her male Han employee on some merchandise she wanted moved from one display to another.  She wasn't rude, just being a boss, and he complied readily.  He knew who was Boss after all, all in a day's work.

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