When China opened the first railway linking Tibet with the rest of the country on Saturday, a group of Tibetologists cheered for an extended "living space" the " engineering marvel" will bring to the splendid, unique Tibetan culture.
"The influx of tourists will not only bring revenue into the region but will also lead to more cultural exchanges between Tibet and other parts of China," said research fellow An Caidan with China Tibetology Research Center (CTRC), the country's largest academic institution for Tibetan studies.
The development of the traffic network in Tibet means more opportunities for cultural exchanges between different ethnic groups in China, making it possible for Tibetan culture to be better inherited and enriched, said Dazhag, curator of the Museum of Tibet Autonomous Region.
Tibetan culture's full bloom between the seventh and ninth centuries was partly a result of extensive cultural exchanges between the ethnic group and others, An said.
According to the expert, the traditional Tibetan calendar combined calendar systems of India and other ethnic groups of China, its forging technologies absorbed Nepalese technics, and its medicine took in traditional Chinese medical science.
Tibetan's life style will inevitably change after the railway begins operation, said Huang Fukai, a member of the Chinese Association of Protection and Development on Tibetan Culture.
"They may have coffee and bread in addition to the traditional buttered tea and zanba," he said. Zanba is roasted highland barley flour.
Jeans and suits might also be welcomed by Tibetans, he added.
However, An Caidan said, such changes are a matter of course in the development of civilization. "Some people may criticize that Tibetan culture will be killed, but this is rather biased, as Tibetan people have the right to share modern civilization."
Ye Xingsheng, a CTRC research fellow who lived in Tibet for 42 years, said he is satisfied that the central and regional governments have invested heavily in cultural relics protection in Tibet and placed environmental protection on the top of its agenda in building the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
He called for more efforts to protect Tibetan culture as "it is hard to have traditions again when you lose them."
China started to build the 1,142-km Golmud-Lhasa section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway on June 29, 2001.