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“Lhasa is Being Ruined By Various Gluttonous Ghosts” By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on November 15, 2011 for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and posted on her blog on November 18, 2011.

Lhasa is a subject matter that has been both a source of inspiration and a matter of deep concern for Woeser, as this post demonstrates.

When I returned to Lhasa in 2010, I noticed a gigantic shopping centre being built at the margins of the old town; it was called “Spiritual Power Plaza”. Tibetans told me that this “masterpiece” was a collaboration between the authorities and the industry, which meant that it really was a “spiritual power property” exploited by Wenzhou merchants and the children of high officials. I felt sad, the world-famous old town of Lhasa was drawn into irreversible ruin by various gluttonous ghosts.

The entire old town is being commercialised at the hands of influential officials. In the north and north-west of Jokhang Temple we already find two massive department stores that exceed the temple in height; I heard that some mayor, some boss, some “pro-Tibet cadre” had their fingers in this pie. Before, the Jokhang Temple was under the big illusionary umbrella of UNESCO and relied on its reputation as a “world heritage”, which enabled it to at least struggle to maintain its traditional central position, but it is obvious that this is no longer of any use.

From the outside, “Spiritual Power Plaza” that claims to be “Lhasa’s commercial landmark”, resembles Beijing’s Sanlitun Village, occupying 30 mu of land, being four storeys in height with two underground floors, including a car park. Simply thinking about this makes me feel uncomfortable, this huge monster that is completely incompatible with the surrounding landscape will entirely destroy Lhasa’s age-old historical scenery. From advertisements on the internet I found out that among the shops inside will be KFC, Bread Talk, Ajisen Ramen, Levis, JEEP; ONLY etc., not few just being copied from modern metropolises.

In order to build the underground car park, groundwater had to be extracted for which they specially laid out eight or nine thick pipelines, which ran across half of Lhasa and were visibly exposed in the streets. This process had been going on for over a year; every day these pipelines pumped out water, reportedly several thousands of tons per day and the work is not finished yet (2011).

According to historical records, formerly, Lhasa used to be a vast marsh, referred to Skyid-Shod-Vo-Thang with a lake in its centre. 1300 years ago, under the leadership of sovereign king Songtsen Gompo, Tibetan people filled in the lake with earth and built the Jokhang Temple. Until the present day, there exists a hollow pillar near the wall of the central Buddhist Hall of Jokhang Temple; because of the story of a lake existing underneath the temple, when believers put their ears near the hollow pillar, they can still hear the faint rushing of the water. I interviewed an old citizen of Lhasa who recalled that when he was young and went to Jokhang Temple to pay homage to Buddha he could see the underground water pond. This shows that there used to be plenty of groundwater.

Everyone in Lhasa already feels anxious about this. Many residents reported to the relevant authorities the dangers that lie in the extraction of groundwater for the building of the “Spiritual Power Plaza”, but the answer they got was that construction work should not stop, on the contrary, it should be continued at an even greater pace, mentioning only one sentence, “so as to reduce the effects this has on the surrounding geological environment”. This clearly shows that they know exactly that this does indeed “have effects on the surrounding geological environment”. In May 2011, a crack was discovered on Tsomonling Road, approximately 1.2 metres in length. Recently, the Tengyeling district experienced two water cuts of one and four hours; local residents said that these were directly related to the extraction of groundwater.

The younger residents of Lhasa started losing their patience, appealing on Weibo that such large-scale extraction of groundwater will likely result in the cracking of roads, serious subsidence and even the emergence of sinkholes. Furthermore, within a radius of about 1500 metres from the area, we find the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Ramoche Monastery and many other ancient buildings, if the ground subsides it will cause an irreparable loss, relics that have thousands of years of history will be destroyed and Lhasa will be faced with severe water shortage. There are also some text messages circulating stating that Lhasa residents will gather for a protest in the “Spiritual Power Plaza” basin on December 3, 2011 at 10 am.

Yet, large-scale protests are difficult to put into action in today’s Lhasa that is heavily guarded and surrounded by soldiers. Even individual petitions or appeals to the higher authorities are considered as political action and hence suppressed. But people’s dissatisfaction cannot be restrained. Seeing Tibetan people’s holy land of belief, their spiritual home and cultural centre being swallowed up and brought to the brink of ruin by those gluttonous ghosts who claim to have “spiritual power”, how can anyone who loves Lhasa not feel extremely anxious?

A western expert who over ten years ago voluntarily engaged in the restoration of old Lhasa and was thus deported by the authorities, expressed his grievance in an email to me: “Water is a huge issue in Tibet because they are building hydroelectric power plants everywhere. Also, Lhasa’s environment has already been severely damaged and polluted; greedy developers with the support from greedy government officials have made Lhasa’s rivers and valleys resemble a big factory. If Lhalu starts to dry out, well then everything is already too late.”

November 15, 2011


4 thoughts on ““Lhasa is Being Ruined By Various Gluttonous Ghosts” By Woeser

  1. save the roof of the world!

    Posted by iamatticusfinch | April 24, 2012, 1:22 pm
  2. Another part of God our creators creation. Lhasa. And the way to know that creator is repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ it says in the Bible. He was God manifest in the flesh who came to die for all our sins against him on the cross 2000 years ago. Shedding his sinless blood as the full atonement for our sins against him, lying , stealing,adultury,murdur,unbelief. He was buried,and rose from the dead the third day , was seen of men,and went back up to heaven. He alone is the only way to miss hell fire forever for our sins against God. Since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden all men are sinners in need of a Saviour. And the way to miss hell fire forever and go to God’s heaven at death. For more info , HolyBible dot com and fbnradio dot com. Sincerely ;

    Posted by George | May 15, 2012, 6:11 pm
  3. Thank you for the comments. And George, thank you for sharing your thoughts, but things may be a little more complicated than that. But thank you nevertheless.

    Posted by Tibetan Blog Station | May 15, 2012, 9:12 pm
    • Hello, Yes, getting to heaven is that simple. Not by works of righteousness which we have done , but according to his mercy he saved us , by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Also , For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God ; not of works lest any man should boast. And For there is none other name under heaven,given amoung men , whereby we must be saved. Also , Jesus said, I am the way , the truth, and the lifE; no man cometh unto the Father , but by me. So God does the saving, all of it by his power, through the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Titus 3:5 , Ephesians 2:8-9 , Acts 4:12 , John 14:6. And also Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus , and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead , thou shalt be saved. And also , Him that cometh unto me , I will in no wise cast out. We must trust in the Holy Scriptures alone since they have been inspired of God and holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. And all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine.. 2 Timothy 3:16. In the Authorized King James Holy Bible. So God wants to save your soul and forgive all your sins today through the bllod of Jesus Christ his Son that cleanss from all sin. aND IF YOU GET SAVED AND CALL ON HIM TO SAVE YOU PLEASE LET ME KNOW . wITHOUT YOUR NAME OF COARCE IF YOU BELIVE YOU HAVE REASON TO. sINCERELY ; George

      Posted by George | May 22, 2012, 5:28 pm

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