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17october20091British MP James Gray, Lord David Steele, Lord Alton, and MP Derek Wyatt recently concluded a visit to Tibet and upon returning to London, their delegation addressed Parliament on the results of their discussions with Chinese officials.

Gray, a Scottish member of the conservative Tory party, reported that, "With the support of the Chinese central government, Tibet's social, economic and cultural development has progressed greatly in recent decades. In addition to raising living standards, the Chinese are focusing their efforts on improving education in the Tibetan Autonomous Region."

The delegation address claimed that in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, there are: 884 primary schools, 117 secondary schools, ten trade schools and six universities. The report did not mention the size of the population these schools serve, the quality of instruction, or whether the schools also cater to the growing Chinese population in urban areas of Tibet, such as Lhasa.

The address noted that there are 1700 Tibetan Buddhist centers in Tibet today (Tibet Autonomous Region). This supposedly allows Tibetans full access to religious practice, as guaranteed in the Chinese constitution. According to Grey and his colleagues, the Chinese government has also spent 7 billion Chinese yen on the restoration of old monasteries.

The delegation held a discussion panel with Chinese authorities and Tibetan scholars to discuss the recent events and current situation in Tibet, with regards to human rights and religious freedom.

Gray told Parliament that, "In my view, the Chinese Government should hasten negotiations face to face with the Dalai Lama, possibly involving third nation interlocutors, so that the role and status of the Dalai Lama should not cloud relations between the free world and China."

However, he took a strong stand against full independence for Tibet, declaring that: "Human rights abuses, which the delegation raised with our Chinese hosts, should not lead to the wholly illogical stance of those who call for a ‘Free Tibet.' Like the United States and every other EU member state, we regard Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China. The Dalai Lama has also stated this position publicly, arguing that Tibet should have an autonomous status within the framework of the Chinese constitution."

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