Sixty Years Since Peaceful Liberation of Tibet
I. Realizing the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet
II. Sixty-years' Development since Peaceful Liberation
III. Historic Achievements that Capture World Attention
On May 23, 1951 the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet ("17-Article Agreement" for short) was signed in Beijing, marking the peaceful liberation of Tibet.
The peaceful liberation of Tibet was an important part of the cause of the Chinese people's liberation, a great event in the Chinese nation's struggle against imperialist invasion to safeguard national unity and sovereignty, an epoch-making turning point in the social development history of Tibet, and a milestone marking the commencement of Tibet's progress from a dark and backward society to a bright and advanced future.
Over the 60 years since its peaceful liberation, Tibet, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Central People's Government, has undergone a great historic process starting with democratic reform, and proceeding to the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region, socialist construction, and to the reform and opening-up era, made unprecedented achievements in the modernization drive, and witnessed great changes in its social outlook and profound changes in its people's life. These achievements were attained by all the ethnic groups in Tibet through concerted efforts, and vividly manifest how China implements the ethnic minority policy of promoting unity and achieving common prosperity and development.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet. We review and summarize the spectacular historic process over the 60 years and demonstrate the great achievements in the development of New Tibet, so as to help Tibet achieve leapfrogging development and maintain lasting stability, while laying bare the lies of the Dalai clique, giving a better understanding of the true history of the 60 years since the peaceful liberation of Tibet to the outside world and enabling people around the world to get to know that socialist New Tibet is full of vigor and vitality.
I. Realizing the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet
Tibet has been an inseparable part of China since ancient times.
China is a unified, multi-ethnic country, and the Tibetan people are important members of the family of the Chinese nation. China's territory and history were created by the Chinese nation; the Tibetan group, as one of the centuries-old ethnic groups in China, has made important contributions to the creation and development of this unified, multi-ethnic country and to the formation and evolvement of the Chinese nation. Archaeological and academic research findings show that since ancient times the Tibetan people have been closely connected with the Han and other ethnic groups in blood relationship, language, culture and other aspects, and economic, political and cultural exchanges between Tibet and inland China have never been broken off. In the 13th century the central government of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) formally incorporated Tibet into the central administration by setting up the Supreme Control Commission and Commission for Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs to directly administer the military and political affairs of the Tibet region. Following this, the Yuan central government gradually standardized and institutionalized the administration of Tibet, including directly controlling the local administrative organs of Tibet and exercising the power of appointing local officials in Tibet, stationing troops there and conducting censuses. Following the Yuan system, the Ming (1368-1644) government implemented such policies as multiple enfeoffment, tributary trade and establishment of subordinated administrative divisions. The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) strengthened the central government's administration of Tibet. In 1653 and 1713 the Qing emperors granted honorific titles to the 5th Dalai Lama and the 5th Panchen Lama, officially establishing the titles of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Erdeni, and their political and religious status in Tibet. From 1727 the Qing court established the post of grand minister resident in Tibet to supervise local administration on behalf of the central authorities.In 1751 the Qing government abolished the system under which the various commandery princes held power, and formally appointed the 7th Dalai Lama to administer the local government of Tibet, and set up the Kashag (cabinet) composed of four Kalons (ministers). In 1793, after dispelling Gurkha invaders, the Qing government promulgated the Ordinance by the Imperial House Concerning Better Governance in Tibet (29 Articles), improving several systems by which the central government administered Tibet. The Ordinance stipulated that the reincarnation of Dalai Lama and other Living Buddhas had to follow the procedure of "drawing lots from the golden urn," and the selected candidate would be subject to the approval by the central authorities of China. In the Qing Dynasty five Dalai Lamas were selected in this way, but two did not go through the lot-drawing procedure as approved by the Qing emperors. The Qing emperors deposed the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, in 1706 and the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, in 1904, and again in 1910.
The Revolution of 1911 toppled the Qing empire, and the Republic of China (1912-1949) was founded. On March 11, 1912 the Republic of China issued its first constitution - the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China, which clarified the central government's sovereignty over Tibet. It clearly stipulated that Tibet was a part of the territory of the Republic of China, and stated that "the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui and Tibetan peoples are of one, and the five ethnic groups will be of one republic." On July 17 the government set up the Bureau of Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs under the State Council. After the Provisional Government of the Republic of China was set up in Nanjing, a Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs was established in 1929 to exercise administrative jurisdiction over Tibet. In 1940 the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs opened an office in Lhasa as the permanent mission of the central government in Tibet. The central government of the Republic of China safeguarded the nation's sovereignty over Tibet in spite of frequent civil wars among warlords in the interior. The 14th Dalai Lama, Dainzin Gyatso, succeeded to the title with the approval of the national government, which waived the lot-drawing convention. No country or government in the world has ever acknowledged the independence of Tibet.
So-called "Tibet independence" was part of imperialist aggressors' attempt to carve up China.
Since the Opium War Britain started in 1840 , China had been gradually reduced to a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country. At the end of the 19th century imperialist forces set off mad spree to carve up China, and the British aggressors took the opportunity to invade Tibet. British troops intruded into Tibet twice - in 1888 and 1903 - but failed due to the resistance of the Tibetan army and civilians. After their failure to turn Tibet into a colony through armed aggression, the imperialists started to foster pro-imperialist separatists in Tibet, plotted activities to separate Tibet from China and trumpeted "Tibet's independence." On August 31, 1907 Britain and Russia signed the Convention between Great Britain and Russia on Tibet, changing, for the first time, China's sovereignty over Tibet into "suzerainty" in an international document. In 1913 the British government engineered the Simla Conference to instigate the Tibetan representative to raise the slogan of "Tibet's independence" for the first time, which was immediately rejected by the representative of the Chinese government. The British representative then introduced the so-called "compromise" scheme, attempting to change China's sovereignty over Tibet into "suzerainty" and separate Tibet from the authority of the Chinese government under the pretext of "autonomy." These ill-intentioned attempts met with resolute opposition from the Chinese people and government. In July 1914, upon instruction, the representative of the Chinese government refused to sign the Simla Convention, and made a statement saying that the government of China refuse to recognize any such agreement or document. The Chinese government also sent a note to the British government, reiterating its position. Thereupon, the conference collapsed. In 1942 the local government of Tibet, with the support of the British representative, suddenly announced the establishment of a "foreign affairs bureau," and openly carried out "Tibetan independence" activities. With opposition from the Chinese people and the national government, the local government of Tibet had no choice but to withdraw its decision.
In 1947 the British imperialists plotted behind the scenes to invite Tibetan representatives to attend the "Asian Relations Conference," and even identified Tibet as an independent country on the map of Asia hung in the conference hall and in the array of national flags. The organizers were forced to rectify this after the Chinese delegation made a stern protest. On July 8, 1949 the local government of Tibet issued an order to expel officials of the Tibet Office of the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs on the excuse of "prohibiting Communists from staying in Tibet." In November 1949 the local government of Tibet decided to dispatch a so-called "goodwill mission" to the United States, Britain, India, Nepal and some other countries to seek political and military support for "Tibet's independence," making it obvious that it was intensifying separatist activities. Around the end of 1949 the American Lowell Thomas roamed Tibet in the guise of a "radio commentator" to explore the "possibility of aid that Washington could give Tibet." He wrote in a US newspaper: "The United States is ready to recognize Tibet as an independent and free country." In the first half of 1950 American weaponry was shipped into Tibet through Calcutta in order to help resist the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in its entry into Tibet.
Historical facts clearly demonstrate that the so-called "Tibetan independence" was in fact cooked up by old and new imperialists, and was part of Western aggressors' scheme to carve up the territory of China.
The Liberation of Tibet was an important part of the cause of the Chinese people's liberation.
In face of aggression and oppression from imperialists, all ethnic groups of China, including the Tibetans, had waved unyielding struggles for more than a century and at the cost of many lives to safeguard the independence, unity and territorial integrity of China, and to realize the liberation of the Chinese nation. It was under the leadership of the CPC that the Chinese people achieved final victory in the Liberation War after extremely hard struggle. In 1949 the Chinese people won decisive victory in the people's Liberation War, and the People's Republic of China was founded. Then, it came on the agenda that the PLA would march into Tibet, liberate it and expel imperialists from it.
In response to "Tibetan independence" activities plotted by imperialists and reactionary forces from the upper strata of Tibet, on September 2, 1949 Xinhua News Agency, with authorization from the CPC, published an editorial under the headline, "Foreign Aggressors Are Resolutely Not Allowed to Annex China's Territory - Tibet." The editorial summarized how some big powers had invaded Tibet over the previous century, and then pointed out, "Tibet is part of Chinese territory; all foreign aggression is not allowed. The Tibetan people are an inseparable part of the Chinese nation, and any attempt to divide them from China will be doomed. This is a consistent policy of the Communist Party of China and the People's Liberation Army." All sectors of society of Tibet quickly responded and expressed support for the editorial and the hope that the PLA would enter Tibet as soon as possible. On October 1, 1949 the 10th Panchen Lama sent a telegram to the Central People's Government: Dispatching troops to liberate Tibet and expelling the imperialists as soon as possible." On November 23 Mao Zedong and Zhu De telegraphed the 10th Panchen Lama: "The Central People's Government and the Chinese People's Liberation Army will certainly comply with this wish of the Tibetan people." On December 2 Reting Yeshe Tsultrim, an aide of the 5th Regent Reting Rinpoche, arrived in Xining, Qinghai Province, to make complaints to the PLA about the imperialists' atrocities of destroying the internal unity of Tibet, urging the PLA to liberate Tibet as soon as possible. In early 1950 over 100 Tibetan people, including farmers and herdsmen, young people, women and democratic representatives, assembled in Lanzhou, which had been liberated not long before, and urged the PLA to liberate Tibet. The 5th Gedar Tulku of Beri Monastery in Garze, Xikang (Kham) Province, headman Shaka Tobden of Yilung in northern Xikang, and the business tycoon Pangda Dorje in southern Xikang sent representatives to Beijing to pay tribute to Chairman Mao Zedong of the Central People's Government and they expressed the Tibetan people's urgent and earnest wish for the liberation of Tibet.
To address the complicated changes in the international situation and the grave situation in Tibet, and to satisfy the Tibetan people's wish for liberation as soon as possible, in December 1949 Mao Zedong wrote a letter to the CPC Central Committee in Manzhouli on his way to the Soviet Union for a visit. In the letter, Mao made the strategic decision that "it is better for the PLA to enter Tibet sooner rather than later."
When planning the liberation of Tibet and exploring the way of liberation, the CPC decided on the way of peaceful liberation in view of the fact that Tibet was a special region inhabited by the ethnic minorities, in order to enable the PLA to enter Tibet smoothly, safeguard the interests of the Tibetan people and strengthen national unity. In March 1949 when the people's Liberation War was about to end with people's victory, Chairman Mao pointed out that the possibilities of peaceful liberation, like that of Beiping, for other areas were growing. Then Hunan and Ningxia, as well as Xinjiang, Yunnan and Xikang, which all bordered Tibet, were liberated peacefully in succession, affording useful experience for the peaceful liberation of Tibet. On January 20, 1950, in response to the local government of Tibet's dispatching of a so-called "goodwill mission," a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a speech with authorization from Chairman Mao, saying that the Tibetan people demanded the exercise of appropriate regional autonomy under the unified leadership of the Central People's Government, and that "if the Lhasa authorities send delegates to Beijing to negotiate the peaceful liberation of Tibet, they will be well received."
To achieve the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the Central People's Government organized and did a lot of work in political persuasion. In 1950 the Southwest and Northwest bureaux of the CPC Central Committee sent delegates or delegations to Tibet for mediation four times, in order to persuade the 14th Dalai Lama and the local government of Tibet to send representatives to negotiate with the Central People's Government on the peaceful liberation of Tibet. On February 1 the Northwest Bureau sent a Tibetan cadre, Zhang Jingcheng, to Tibet with a letter for the 14th Dalai Lama and Regent Taktra Ngawang Sungrab from Liao Hansheng, then vice chairman of the Qinghai Provincial People's Government. At the end of March an eminent Han monk, Master Zhiqing, who had good relations with the political and religious circles of Tibet, started for Tibet from Chengdu, with approval from the CPC Central Committee and the support of the Southwest Bureau. In July a delegation composed of members from Qinghai temples and monasteries, led by Taktser Rinpoche of Kumbum Monastery, set out from Xining. Sherab Gyatso, vice chairman of the Qinghai Provincial People's Government and a leading Tibetan scholar, delivered a radio talk, calling on the local government of Tibet to "quickly dispatch plenipotentiary representatives to Beijing for peace talks." On July 10 a delegation of ten, including the 5th Gedar Tulku of Beri Monastery in Garze, Xikang, also went to Tibet. However, these mediation activities suffered obstruction from imperialist aggressors and pro-imperialist separatists in Tibet. They were driven away or detained, some delegations were split up, and Gedar Tulku was even poisoned to death in Qamdo.
Meanwhile, the local government of Tibet, incited by imperialist aggressors and dominated by the pro-imperialist separatists in the upper strata of Tibet, expanded the Tibetan army and deployed seven regiments in areas around Qamdo along the western bank of the Jinsha River, in an attempt to halt the PLA's advance into Tibet. Qamdo was the only way into Tibet from the southwest. On August 23, 1950 Mao Zedong pointed out that the capture of Qamdo "will help us to change the political situation in Tibet and advance into Tibet next year," and "may spur the Tibetan delegation to come to Beijing for negotiations for a peaceful settlement." On October 6 the PLA troops started to cross the Jinsha River to carry out the task of liberating Qamdo. On October 19 Qamdo was liberated. On this basis, the First People's Congress of Qamdo was held, at which the Qamdo People's Liberation Committee was elected and a working committee was founded, composing of representatives from both the ecclesiastical and secular, in Qamdo to strive for the peaceful liberation of Tibet. The Qamdo Battle opened the door to peace negotiations and created the necessary conditions for the peaceful liberation of Tibet.
The 17-Article Agreement was signed, and Tibet was liberated peacefully.
The Central People's Government and Chairman Mao Zedong had never given up their efforts for the peaceful liberation of Tibet. Even during the Qamdo Battle, Mao Zedong urged that the Tibetan "delegation should come to Beijing as soon as possible." The Qamdo Battle led to a division within the local government of Tibet, when patriotic and advanced forces got the upper hand, while the pro-imperialist separatist Regent Taktra Ngawang Sungrab was forced to resign. On November 17 the 14th Dalai Lama assumed power, and the political situation in Tibet started to develop in the direction of peaceful liberation.
On January 2, 1951 the 14th Dalai Lama moved to the Tibetan city of Yadong, on the one hand taking a wait-and-see attitude, and on the other seeking support from Britain, the US, India and Nepal while awaiting an opportunity to flee abroad. But no country wished to publicly support "Tibet's independence." Correspondently, the local government of Tibet was divided into a Kashag who remained in Lhasa and a temporary Kashag in Yadong. Following this, an "officials' meeting" of the local government of Tibet decided to formally send delegates to Beijing for peace negotiations with the Central People's Government. In his letter to the Central People's Government to express his wish for peace talks, the 14th Dalai Lama said, "In the past when I was young and had not taken power, the Tibetan-Han relationship was repeatedly disrupted. Recently I have notified Ngapoi (Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme) and his entourage to set out for Beijing as soon as possible. Racing against time, we will add another two assistants to Ngapoi, who will go to Beijing via India." Inspired by the Central People's Government's policy of equality of all ethnic groups and peaceful liberation of Tibet, the local government of Tibet sent a delegation for peace talks with the Central People's Government. The plenipotentiary representatives included the Chief Representative Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, and Representatives Kemai Soinam Wangdui, Tubdain Daindar, Tubdain Legmoin and Sampo Dainzin Toinzhub. The representatives set out in two groups, and assembled in Beijing on April 27, 1951. They received a warm welcome from the Central People's Government, which also organized a delegation, including Chief Representative Li Weihan and representatives Zhang Jingwu, Zhang Guohua and Sun Zhiyuan. After friendly talks, the Central People's Government and the local government of Tibet signed the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet in Beijing on May 23, 1951.
Regarding the peace talks and the signing of the 17-Article Agreement, we need to stress some basic historical facts as follows:
First, the peace talks were held on the premise that the local government of Tibet admitted that Tibet is an inseparable part of China. When the 14th Dalai Lama and the local government of Tibet dispatched the delegation, every representative got a sealed plenipotentiary certificate, which stated the name and identity of the holder on the envelope, and inside the statement that Tibet is a part of China and some other sentences. The essential problem to be solved during the talks was to enhance ethnic solidarity and safeguard national unity. As Ngapoi recalled, on this problem, "the basic standpoints of the representatives of the two sides were the same."
Second, the Central People's Government's "ten policies" for the peaceful liberation of Tibet were the basis for the talks. The main contents were: British and US imperialist aggressive forces shall be driven out of Tibet; regional ethnic autonomy shall be exercised in Tibet; the present political system in Tibet shall remain unchanged; freedom of religious belief shall be guaranteed; economy, culture and education in Tibet shall be developed; matters of reform in Tibet shall be settled by the Tibetan people and Tibetan leaders through consultation; and the PLA troops shall enter Tibet. At first, the Tibetan representatives stressed that they could not accept the PLA's entry into Tibet. At that time, the Central People's Government representatives did not force them to accept this term; instead, they suggested a two-day adjournment, during which they arranged Tibetan representatives to visit some places, while patiently persuaded them, saying that now that the local government of Tibet admitted Tibet as an inseparable part of China, it had no reason to obstruct the PLA from entering Tibet. In the meantime, the central government took into full consideration the problem raised by the Tibetan representatives that it would be difficult for economically backward and resource-poor Tibet to supply the PLA, and promised that the PLA troops would "be supplied by the central government after entering Tibet, all their expenses will be borne by the central government." After negotiations, the two sides finally agreed that the local government of Tibet would make positive efforts to assist the PLA's entry into Tibet for national defence.
Third, the conflict between the Dalai Lama and Panchen Erdeni was an important problem that had to be resolved in the talks. Due to instigation by imperialist aggressors, the 9th Panchen Lama did not get along with the 13th Dalai Lama in the early 1920s, and thus was forced to leave Tibet for inland China. He died in Yushu, Qinghai Province, in December 1937 on his way back to Tibet. On August 10, 1949, the 10th Panchen Lama was enthroned at the Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai, with the approval of the national government. At first, the Tibetan delegation did not acknowledge the legal status of the 10th Panchen Lama. The central government delegation showed to the Tibetan delegation all the official documents by which the Kuomintang's national government had approved and confirmed the 10th Panchen Lama as the reincarnated soul boy of the 9th Panchen Lama, and the photos of the enthronement ceremony at the Kumbum Monastery, which representatives of the Dalai Lama attended. Faced with this irrefutable evidence, the Tibetan delegation finally acknowledged the legal status of the 10th Panchen Lama. The May Day holiday arrived during the peace talks, and the Central People's Government invited all the representatives of the local government of Tibet and the 10th Panchen Lama to attend the celebration on the Tian'anmen Rostrum, during which Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme and the 10th Panchen Lama had a friendly meeting and were received by Mao Zedong.
Fourth, the Agreement was reached on the basis of mutual respect and friendly negotiations. Most terms of the Agreement were about how to handle internal relations and affairs of Tibet. For these issues, the plenipotentiary representatives of the Central People's Government took initials to offer some proposals in line with the ethnic policy of the central government and the reality in Tibet. The Tibetan representatives also raised their suggestions. The Central People's Government studied and adopted some, while patiently explaining the reasons for not accepting others. Representative Tubdain Daindar talked about his experience of the talks: "As an ecclesiastic official from the Yitsang (Secretariat), I offered many suggestions about religious beliefs, monastery income and some other related issues, most of which were adopted by the central government." A Han-language version and a Tibetan-language one of the Agreement were prepared from the very beginning of the talks. And every revision made in both versions was only with consent from the Tibetan delegation. After the talks, both versions were signed and issued together.
As plenipotentiary representatives from the local government of Tibet, they discussed and established the following principles before formal talks: "Plenipotentiary representatives shall quickly decide on terms that they can decide on, and report to the Kashag in Yadong those that they cannot settle;" and when there was not enough time, "the plenipotentiary representatives can decide first and then report to the Dalai Lama." The channel for the Tibetan delegation to ask for instructions from the Dalai Lama and the Kashag was always unimpeded, and the representatives discussed among themselves for which items they would request instructions. Soon after the talks started, the issue of the PLA's entry into Tibet arose. The Tibetan representatives telegraphed the Dalai Lama and the Kashag in Yadong via cryptograph brought by Kemai Soinam Wangdui and Tubdain Daindar, saying that there would not be a big problem regarding most of the items, but if the local government of Tibet did not permit the PLA to enter Tibet, the talks could fail. During the talks, they contacted the Kashag in Yadong twice regarding its relationship with the Panchen Lama. During the 20-odd-day talks, although representatives from the two sides disagreed on some items, the talks went on in a friendly and sincere atmosphere and with full consultation. At the signing ceremony, the representatives of the two sides signed and sealed both versions of the Agreement.
To ensure that the Agreement was earnestly implemented, the Central People's Government and the local government of Tibet signed two appendices to the Agreement, and one was the Regulations on Matters Concerning the Entry and Stationing of the People's Liberation Army in Tibet. Regarding the PLA's entry into and stationing in Tibet, the plenipotentiary representatives of the local government of Tibet questioned the number and deployment of and supplies for the troops. Since these details were military secrets, they could not be written in the Agreement, which was to be announced. Thus it was necessary to put them in Appendix I. Appendix II was the Declaration on the Local Government of Tibet Being Responsible for Carrying out the Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. If the Dalai Lama acknowledged the Agreement and returned to Lhasa, then the peaceful liberation of Tibet would be a natural result. But if he did not return to Lhasa for some time for whatever reason, the Tibetan delegation hoped that the Central People's Government would allow the Dalai Lama to choose his own place of residence during the first year of the implementation of the Agreement, and to retain his status and power unchanged if he returned to his original post during this year. The Central People's Government consented. But if this clause was written into the Agreement, it would provoke controversy. So the two sides agreed on preventive stipulations for future possibilities and wrote them into this appendix. These two appendices were detailed rules for the implementation of the Agreement and complements to the Agreement on matters that had not been covered in the Agreement.
Fifth, the Agreement gained support from the Dalai Lama and both ecclesiastical and secular people in Tibet. After Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme returned to Lhasa from Beijing, the local government of Tibet held between September 26 and 29, 1951 an "officials' meeting" attended by more than 300 people, including all ecclesiastical and secular officials, Khenpo (abbot) representatives of the three most prominent monasteries, and Tibetan army officers above the regimental-commander rank. At the conference, a report to the Dalai Lama was approved. It stated, "The 17-Article Agreement that has been signed is of incomparable benefit to the grand cause of the Dalai Lama and to Buddhism as a whole, and to the politics, economy and other aspects of life in Tibet. Naturally it should be carried out." The Dalai Lama sent a telegram to Chairman Mao Zedong on October 24 to express his support for the Agreement. The telegram read, "This year the local government of Tibet sent five delegates with full authority, headed by Kalon Ngapoi, to Beijing in late April 1951 to conduct peace talks with delegates with full authority appointed by the Central People's Government. On the basis of friendship, the delegates of the two sides signed on May 23, 1951 the Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. The local government of Tibet as well as the ecclesiastical and secular people unanimously support this Agreement, and, under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the Central People's Government, will actively assist the PLA troops entering Tibet to consolidate national defense, ousting imperialist influences from Tibet and safeguarding the unification of the territory and the sovereignty of the motherland. I hereby send this cable to inform you of this." On October 26, Chairman Mao Zedong telegraphed the Dalai Lama in reply, expressing thanks for his efforts in carrying out the Agreement.
The signing of the 17-Article Agreement symbolized the peaceful liberation of Tibet, thus opening a new page in the history of social progress in Tibet. The peaceful liberation enabled Tibet to shake off imperialist aggression and imperialist political and economic fetters, safeguarded the national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of China, enhanced the solidarity among all ethnic groups of China and within Tibet, and created the basic preconditions for Tibet to advance and develop together with other parts of the country.
II. Sixty-years' Development since Peaceful Liberation
Peaceful liberation was an important turning point in the historical development of Tibet. Over the 60 years since then Tibet has gone through several phases of development, such as the Democratic Reform, establishment of the autonomous region, building of socialism, and reform and opening up, scoring spectacular achievements.
Implementing the 17-Article Agreement, maintaining national unity and ethnic solidarity, and launching Tibet's drive towards modernization
- Sending troops to Tibet and consolidating border defense. As stipulated in the 17-Article Agreement and its Appendix I, the PLA troops with the 18th army as the major force marched into Tibet from September 1951 to June 1952, and were stationed in strongholds such as Gyamda, Gyangtse, Shigatse, Lhuntse Dzong, Dromo, Zayul and Gerze, bringing to an end the history of Tibet' s 4,000-km border being undefended.
- Handling Tibet's foreign-related affairs on a centralized basis. On September 6, 1952 the foreign affairs office of the central government representative stationed in Tibet was set up, responsible for all the foreign-related affairs of Tibet under the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Central People's Government. On April 29, 1954 the People's Republic of China and the Republic of India signed in Beijing the Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet Region of China and India, abolishing the privileges India had inherited from the British invaders. In 1955 China established official diplomatic ties with Nepal, and signed the Agreement on Maintaining Friendly Relations between the People's Republic of China and the Kingdom of Nepal and on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet Region of China and Nepal in 1956, which cancelled Nepal's privileges in Tibet, advancing and consolidating the Sino-Nepalese relationship to a new level. To this day, all the foreign-related affairs of Tibet are dealt with by the Central People's Government on a centralized basis.
- Attaining self-sufficiency and satisfying both military and civilian needs. The central government issued such instructions as "sending troops to Tibet but not depending on local people for grain supply" and "tightening the budget and attaining self-sufficiency," and put forward a series of financial policies such as "guaranteeing food supplies for the army and taking into consideration of civilian needs" and "unified procurement and economical practice." Soon after the PLA entered Tibet, it funded itself by selling local wool to the central government at prices higher than those of India. This move foiled the scheme of illegal hoarding and profiteering plotted by reactionaries of the Tibetan upper class with an aim to sow discord between Tibetans and Han people and greatly benefited many of the upper class, enabling them to acknowledge the central government's goal of safeguarding the interests of the Tibetan people. They thus gradually reduced their dependence on and connection with the imperialist forces and drew closer to the central government.
- Carrying out united front work, and promoting national unity and progress. Encouraged by the central government, the 10th Panchen Lama and his entourage returned to Lhasa from Qinghai Province to have a friendly meeting with the 14th Dalai Lama in April 1952. The CPC Working Committee of Tibet then made great efforts to help settle both the current practical problems and those left over from history between the Dalai and Panchen lamas, who in 1953 were elected as honorary presidents of the Buddhist Association of China, with Living Buddha Kundeling as vice president. In September 1956 the Tibetan branch of the Buddhist Association of China was set up. In September 1954 the 14th Dalai and 10th Panchen lamas went together to Beijing to attend the First Session of the First National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China, which demonstrated that the Tibetan people enjoyed equal rights with other ethnic groups in participating in the administration of China' s state affairs. Concurrently, a total of 1,000 people in 13 groups were organized from 1952 to 1957 to visit the hinterland, including upper-class monks and lay officials to lamas and common people including women and youngsters, which strengthened connections between Tibet and the hinterland and promoted national unity.
- Actively undertaking the modernization program to promote Tibet's economic, social and cultural development. After the peaceful liberation, the PLA and people from other parts of China working in Tibet persisted in carrying out the 17-Article Agreement and the policies of the Central Authorities, built the Xikang-Tibet and Qinghai-Tibet highways, Damxung Airport, water conservancy projects, modern factories, banks, trading companies, post offices, farms and schools. They adopted a series of measures to help the farmers and herdsmen expand production, started social relief and disaster relief programs, and provided free medical service for the prevention and treatment of epidemic and other diseases. All this promoted the region's economic, social and cultural development, created a new social atmosphere of modern civilization and progress, produced a far-reaching influence among people of all walks of life in Tibet, ended the long-term isolation and stagnation of Tibetan society, paved the way for Tibet's march toward a modern society, opened up wide prospects for Tibet's further development and provided necessary conditions for the common progress of Tibet and the nation as a whole.
Prior to the Democratic Reform, Tibet practiced a system of feudal serfdom under theocracy, which was darker and more backward than in Europe in the Middle Ages. The three major estate-holders - officials, nobles and upper-ranking monks in monasteries - accounted for less than five percent of Tibet's total population but owned all the farmland, pastures, forests, mountains and rivers, and the majority of the livestock. The serfs and slaves, accounting for more than 95 percent of the population, had no means of production or freedom of their own. They were not only subjected to the three-fold exploitation of corvee labor, taxes and high-interest loans, but also suffered cruel political oppression and punishment rarely seen in world history. Their lives were no more than struggles for existence. Thus, reforming the social system of Tibet was an inevitable requirement of social development and the fundamental aspiration of the Tibetan people. In consideration of the special conditions of Tibet, the 17-Article Agreement stipulated that "the Central Authorities will not alter the existing political system in Tibet;" "in matters related to various reforms in Tibet, there will be no compulsion on the part of the Central Authorities. The local government of Tibet shall carry out reforms of its own accord, and when the people raise demands for reform, they shall be settled by means of consultation with the leading personnel of Tibet." After Tibet was liberated peacefully, the Central People's Government adopted a very prudent and tolerant attitude toward the reform of its social system, hoping to persuade the people of the local ruling class of the need for reform and waiting patiently for them to take initiative to start the social reform. But the serf owners were totally opposed to any reform which would mean giving up their privileges, and sabotaged the 17-Article Agreement and plotted a series of activities to split Tibet from China, which ended in a full-scale insurrection in 1959.
In order to safeguard the unity of the nation and the fundamental interests of the Tibetan people, the Central People's Government, together with the Tibetan people, took decisive measures to suppress the rebellion, dissolved the local government and carried out the Democratic Reform in Tibet, which fundamentally uprooted the feudal serfdom. Through this reform, the theocratic system was annulled to separate religion from government; the feudal serf owners' right to own means of production was abolished and private ownership by farmers and herdsmen was established; the serfs and slaves' personal bondage to the officials, nobles and upper-ranking monks was cancelled, and they won their freedom of the person. The Democratic Reform constituted an epoch-making change in the social progress of Tibet and its development of human rights. It emancipated a million of serfs and slaves politically, economically and in other aspects of social life, effectively promoted the development of social productive forces in Tibet and opened up the road towards modernization. The former serfs and slaves got over 186,000 hectares of land in the Democratic Reform and, in 1960, when the Democratic Reform was basically completed, the total grain yield of Tibet was 12.6 percent higher than in 1959 and 17.7 percent higher than in 1958 prior to the Reform. In addition, the total number of livestock was 9.9 percent higher than in 1959.
The Democratic Reform in Tibet coincided with its construction of democratic politics. After the rebellion broke out in March 1959 the State Council issued an order to dissolve the Kashag and decided to make the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region exercise the local government's duties and power. Later, the Qamdo People's Liberation Committee and the Panchen Kampus Assembly were abolished, and a centralized people's democratic government was set up, thus ending the co-existence of several political powers of different nature. In 1961 a general election was held across Tibet. For the first time, the former serfs and slaves were able to enjoy democratic rights as their own masters, as they elected power organs and governments at all levels. Many emancipated serfs and slaves took up leading posts at various levels in the region. In September 1965 the First Session of the First People's Congress of Tibet was convened in Lhasa, at which the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Regional People's Government were officially proclaimed. Then, through the socialist transformation of agriculture and animal husbandry, Tibet embarked on the road of socialism. The founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region and adoption of the socialist system provided an institutional guarantee for the realization of ethnic equality, unity, mutual help and common prosperity. It also provided a guarantee for all ethnic groups in Tibet to enjoy equal rights to participate in the administration of state affairs and that of ethnic affairs. In this way, an institutional guarantee was put in place for Tibet to develop along with other parts of China, with special support and assistance by the state and according to its local conditions.
Implementing reform and opening up, promoting Tibetan economy to change from a closed one into an open one and from a planned one to a market one.
The 1980s witnessed a great upsurge of the reform, opening-up and modernization drive in Tibet, as in all the other parts of China. In 1980 and 1984, respectively, the Central Authorities held the First and Second Tibet Work Forums, setting the guiding principles for work in the region - focusing on economic development, changing from a closed economy to an open one and from a planned economy to a market one. The central government also formulated a series of special policies for economic development in Tibet, such as "long-term right to use and independently operate land by individual households" and "long-term right to have, raise and manage livestock by individual households," to promote the reform of the region's economic system and its opening-up program. Since 1984, 43 projects have been launched in Tibet with state funds and aid from nine provinces and municipalities. The implementation of the policy of reform and opening up and the state aid have invigorated the Tibetan economy, raised the overall level of industries and the level of commercialization of economic activities in Tibet, and helped Tibet take another step forward in its economic and social development.
Exploring and formulating the basic policies for the work in Tibet in the new period as required by the new situation, constantly speeding up the development of Tibet and maintaining its stability.
Ever since the Dalai Lama and his clique fled abroad, they have stuck to their claims and efforts for "Tibet independence" and secessionist activities. With the support of the CIA of US, they proclaimed the setting up of an "independent Tibet" in India, and established bases for armed forces in India and Nepal, launching armed attacks on China's borders intermittently. In 1964, at the 151st Conference of the State Council, the Decision on the Removal of the Dalai Lama from His Official Positions was adopted, which stated, "After the Dalai Lama staged the treasonous armed rebellion in 1959, he fled abroad and organized a 'government-in-exile,' issued a bogus constitution, supported Indian reactionaries who invaded our country, and engaged in the organization and training of remnants of Tibet's armed forces who had fled abroad with the object of attacking our borders. All this proves that he has alienated himself from the country and the people, and been reduced to a traitor working for imperialists and reactionaries abroad." After the policies of reform and opening up were implemented in Tibet, the Dalai Lama clique pressed on with their infiltration and sabotage activities, and plotted the Lhasa riots in the late 1980s, which were quickly quelled by resolute actions adopted by the central government. In 1989 the Chinese government put forward ten propositions to guide the development of Tibet, which served to unify the people's thinking and promote stability, thus constituting a turning point for the work in Tibet in the new period. In 1994 the central government held the Third Tibet Work Forum, and set the guiding principles for work in the region in the new era as follows: Focusing efforts on economic development, firmly grasping the two major tasks of developing the economy and stabilizing the situation, securing a high-speed development of the economy, overall social progress and lasting political stability in Tibet, and ensuring the continuous improvement of the Tibetan people's living standards. At the Forum, the Central Authorities also adopted the important decisions to devote special attention to Tibet and ask all other parts of China to aid Tibet, and formulated a series of special favorable policies and measures for speeding up the development of the autonomous region. The Forum led to the birth of a mechanism for all-round aid for the modernization of Tibet, in which the state would take the lead to directly invest in construction projects in the region, the central government would provide financial subsidies, and the other parts of the country would provide paired-up aid. In 2001 the Central Authorities held the Fourth Tibet Work Forum, at which it was decided that more effective measures would be adopted and efforts would be further strengthened to support Tibet and push forward in an all-around way the region's development and stability. Since 1994 the central government has organized 60 state organs, 18 provinces and municipalities and 17 state-owned enterprises to provide aid to Tibet in the fields of human resources, finance and materials, technology and management in a paired-up way to cover all the cities at the prefectural level and 73 counties (including cities and districts at the county level) in Tibet. The completion of 62 aid projects identified in 1994 and 117 aid projects identified in 2001, respectively, in Tibet gave a strong impetus to its economic and social development. In the meantime, the central government overcame interference and sabotage from the Dalai Lama clique, identified the reincarnated the soul boy of the 10th Panchen Lama, approving Gyaltsen Zangpo's position as the 11th Panchen Lama, and resolutely struggled against the Dalai Lama's secessionist group, all of which helped to maintain stability in Tibet.
Upholding the Scientific Outlook on Development, vigorously accelerating Tibet' s development to realize leapfrog development, and achieving lasting peace based on stability.
After the 16th National Congress of the CPC, in light of the new historical conditions, the Central Authorities explicitly stated that its priorities for Tibet's economic and social development would be to ensure and improve the production and living conditions of farmers and herdsmen, and to increase their incomes as required by the Scientific Outlook on Development. By doing this, it helped to promote the region's economy and society to develop in a better and faster way, and make all ethnic groups in Tibet enjoy the fruit of the reform and development. In 2006 the central government formulated 40 preferential policies aiming to accelerate Tibet's development and maintain its stability, and identified 180 (the actually completed number is 188) construction projects for its 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), which helped Tibet to score remarkable achievements in development and stability. Tibet's economy developed at a high rate, infrastructure construction in transportation and energy improved markedly, a large number of major projects including the Qinghai-Tibet Railway were completed and have produced satisfactory economic benefits, social undertakings showed all-around progress, the living standards of people of all ethnic groups in Tibet were greatly improved and Tibet's self-development capacity was further enhanced. In the meantime, the government put down the March 14th Lhasa Incident according to law, resolutely prevented and cracked down on splittist activities instigated by the Dalai Lama clique, further conducted education in patriotism and law in the monasteries, scored a great victory in the anti-secession struggle and strengthened ethnic unity constantly. In January 2010 the Central Authorities held the Fifth Tibet Work Forum, at which it further enriched and perfected the guiding principles for the work in Tibet, and drew up comprehensive plans for every aspect of its development and stability, which were: focusing efforts on economic development, safeguarding ethnic unity, taking improvement of people's livelihood as both the starting point and final aim of all work, holding fast to development and stability, ensuring a leapfrog development of economy and society, national security and prolonged peace in Tibet, and working for the constant improvement of the standard of people's material and cultural life, and a sound ecological environment. At a new starting point in its history, Tibet is showing great momentum for prosperity again.
III. Historic Achievements that Capture World Attention
In the 60 years since its peaceful liberation in 1951, Tibet, under the leadership of the Central People's Government and with the support of people of all ethnic groups in China, and with the hard work of all ethnic groups in the autonomous region, has fulfilled two historic leaps from a society of feudal serfdom to one of socialism, and from a state of isolation, poverty and backwardness to one of opening, prosperity and civilization, scoring historic achievements in various undertakings that caught world attention.
Since its peaceful liberation Tibet has abolished feudal serfdom, implemented regional ethnic autonomy and established socialism featuring people's democracy. The former serfs and slaves have since become masters of their own country and society. They enjoy both the right to equally participate in the administration of state affairs and the right to handle local and ethnic affairs on their own. In the elections of people's congresses at the autonomous regional, prefectural (municipal), county and township (town) levels in 2007, 96.4 percent of the eligible residents participated in the electoral process. Of the more than 34,000 deputies directly or indirectly elected to the people's congresses at the aforementioned four levels, more than 94 percent were members of the Tibetan or other ethnic minorities. Of the deputies to the current National People's Congress, 20 are from Tibet, including 12 Tibetans, one Monba and one Lhoba. People from all walks of life in Tibet also attend the people's political consultative conferences at various levels to participate in the deliberation and administration of state affairs, and to exercise their democratic rights. Among the deputies to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, quite a number of them are Tibetans and a few are from the Tibetan religious circle. Since the founding of the Tibet People's Political Consultative Conference in 1959, an overwhelming part of the members have been Tibetans or members of other ethic minorities.
Regional ethnic autonomy has constantly been institutionalized. Statistics show that since 1965 the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region has enacted 279 local regulations, resolutions and decisions with legal effect, which cover political power buildup, economic development, culture and education, spoken and written languages, justice, medical care and public health, relics protection, protection of wild animals and plants, protection of natural resources, and environmental protection. Now Tibet has established a legal regime of local autonomy, with autonomy-related regulations and separate regulations as the mainstay, protecting the special rights and interests of the people in Tibet in the areas of politics, economy and social life, and promoting the development of various local undertakings. These regulations have distinctive local features. They include the Regulations on Legislation of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Implementing Rules for Election of Deputies to the People's Congresses at Various Levels in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Resolutions on the Study, Use and Development of the Tibetan Language in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Resolutions on Maintaining National Unification, Enhancing Ethnic Solidarity and Opposing Secessionist Activities, Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Protection and Management of Cultural Relics, and Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on Environmental Protection.
Cadres of the Tibetan and other ethnic minorities constitute the main body of cadres in Tibet and the backbone of the construction and development of the region. Since the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965, all chairpersons of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress and all governors of the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have been Tibetan citizens. Cadres of the Tibetan and other ethnic minorities account for 70.3 percent of the total at the autonomous regional level and 81.6 percent at the county and township levels. At present, Tibet has 54,000 specialized technical personnel, among whom 76.8 percent are from ethnic minorities.
The local people's living standards have been greatly improved along with leapfrog economic development.
Before the peaceful liberation, the economy in Tibet was in a state of stagnation, and the masses lived in dire poverty. Since the peaceful liberation however, the economy has leaped forward with each passing day. To boost local economic and social growth, the central government has adopted a series of preferential policies for Tibet in such areas as banking, finance and taxation, investment, infrastructure construction, industrial development, farming and animal husbandry, environmental protection, education, public health, science and technology, culture and physical education, and has rendered Tibet strong support in terms of finance, materials and manpower. The central government has never taken a cent from Tibet, but constantly increased the allotment in the central budget for Tibet. In the period from 1952 to 2010, the central government sent a total of 300 billion yuan to Tibet as financial subsidies, with an annual growth rate of 22.4 percent. Over the past 60 years the central government has allocated more than 160 billion yuan in direct investment to Tibet and approved at different periods 43, 62, 117 and 188 major projects respectively concerning Tibet's long-term development and its people's livelihood. Highways, railways, airports, telecommunications facilities, energy and other key infrastructural projects have been completed one after the other, thus greatly improving Tibet's infrastructure and its people's living and production conditions. Statistics show that from 1994 to 2010 state departments, provincial and municipal governments, and state-owned enterprises involved in the paired-up support program launched 4,393 aid projects in six batches, with a total of 13.3 billion yuan in aid funds and 4,742 cadres from across the country dispatched to work in Tibet.
Thanks to the care of the Central Authorities and the support of the whole nation, Tibet has witnessed a historic leap in its economic and social development. From 1959 to 2010 fixed assets investment in the region totaled 275.1 billion yuan, registering an average annual growth of over 15 percent. The figure was 264.3 billion yuan from 1994 to 2010, and the annual growth rate in that period was more than 20 percent. The local GDP soared from 129 million yuan in 1951 to 50.746 billion yuan in 2010, a 111.8-fold increase or an average annual growth of 8.3 percent at comparable prices. Since 1994 the local GDP has grown at an annual rate of 12 percent, registering double-digit growth for 18 years in a run. During the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) Tibet's GDP exceeded 30, 40 and 50 billion yuan successively. In 2010 the per-capita GDP was 17,319 yuan, and the local budgetary receipts reached 3.665 billion yuan, showing an average annual growth of over 20 percent for eight consecutive years.
There was no modern industry in old Tibet. But the region now has a modern industrial system covering over 20 sectors with distinctive local features, including energy, light industry, textiles, machinery, mining, building materials, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food processing, folk handicrafts and Tibetan medicine. The total industrial output value increased from 1.4 million yuan in 1956 to 7.561 billion yuan in 2010, registering an annual growth rate of 14.1 percent. Competitive industries with local features keep expanding. The Gyama copper-polymetallic deposit in Tibet has been put into operation and gone public in Hong Kong. Some specialty products, such as Lhasa barley beer, "5100 Tibet Glacier Spring Water" and Ganlu traditional Tibetan medicine have entered the market in other parts of the country as well as the international market. Tourism in Tibet has also maintained a sustained and rapid growth. Some 6.8514 million people visited Tibet in 2010, and the tourism revenue reached 7.14 billion yuan. Tibet is set to be one of the most popular destinations for visitors from all over the world.
Tibet's energy, transportation and other basic industries are also flourishing. On the eve of Tibet's peaceful liberation, there was only one 125-kw hydropower station in the region, which supplied electricity only to a handful of senior officials and aristocrats. Now, an extensive energy system has been formed, with hydropower as the mainstay, backed up by geothermal, wind and solar energy sources. In 2010 the installed power-generating capacity in Tibet reached 974,000 kw, and more than 82 percent of the population had access to electricity. The Qinghai-Tibet DC Power Transmission Line is under construction, which will link the Tibetan grid to those of the rest of the country. In the old days there was not a single highway in Tibet. Today, a comprehensive transportation network has taken shape, with highway, rail, air and pipeline transportation as the backbone. All townships and more than 80 percent of the administrative villages in Tibet have gained access to highways, which now total 58,200 km. China's last "isolated" county is soon to be connected to the country's highway network with the completion and operation of the Galung La tunnel on the Medog Highway. The operation of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway ended Tibet's history of being without railways. The navigation lighting project at the Lhasa Gongkar Airport, and the Nyingchi Menling Airport, Ngari Gunsa Airport, Xigaze Peace Airport have been completed and put into use, allowing night flights into and out of Tibet and greatly increasing the number of air routes. An airport layout has taken shape in Tibet, with the Lhasa Gongkar Airport as the main hub, and the Chamdo Bangda, Nyingchi Menling, Ngari Gunsa and Xigaze Peace airports as the branches, catering to 22 domestic and international air services. In old Tibet, letters were carried by people or beasts of burden and relayed via posthouses. Nowadays, Tibet has entered the information age, having established a modern telecommunications network with cables, satellites and the Internet as the backbone. It has also realized broadband coverage in all townships and telephone communication in all villages. ' In the old days Tibet's agriculture and animal husbandry were completely at the mercy of the weather. Nowadays, modern facilities have been widely introduced. The added value of primary industry (agriculture) in Tibet increased from 128 million yuan in 1959 to 6.813 billion yuan in 2010, registering an average annual growth of 4.8 percent. Grain output rose from 182,900 tonnes in 1959 to 920,000 tonnes in 2010. Meanwhile the grain output per mu (15 mu equal one ha.) rose from 91 kg in 1959 to 357.4 kg in 2008, with the number of livestock rising from 9.56 million head in 1959 to 23.21 million head at the end of 2010.
Before the peaceful liberation, more than 90 percent of the people in Tibet had no private housing, nor had they enough food and clothing. But over the past 60 years the Tibetan people's living conditions have constantly improved. In 1951 the per-capita housing of urban dwellers was less than three sq m, but the figure reached 34.72 at the end of 2010. Since 2006, with the construction of a new socialist countryside and comfortable housing project underway, 274,800 households, comprising 1.4021 million farmers and herdsmen, have moved into modern houses, and the per-capita housing space has increased to 24 sq m in rural areas. The aim of providing farmers and herdsmen living in poor conditions with comfortable houses has been realized. Tibet has also improved its facilities in the areas of water, electricity, highways, telecommunications, gas, radio and television, postal services and the environment in farming and pastoral areas, giving rise to historic changes in these areas. The coverage rate of postal services in townships, that of highways in townships, and that of highways in administrative villages have reached 85.7 percent, 99.7 percent and 81.2 percent, respectively. The region has provided safe drinking water for 1.532 million farmers and herdsmen, and iodized salt for 91.2 percent of the residents in farming and pastoral areas. In 2010 the per-capita net income of farmers and herdsmen was 4,138.7 yuan, registering a double-digit growth for eight consecutive years. The per-capita disposable income of urban dwellers stood at 14,980 yuan.
Meanwhile, the consumption pattern of Tibetan residents is becoming more diversified with improvement in their livelihood, and such consumer goods as refrigerators, color TVs, computers, washing machines, motorcycles and mobile phones have got access to ordinary homes. A survey shows that for every 100 rural households there are 73.45 color TVs, 52.64 mobile phones and 3.98 private cars, and for every 100 urban households in Lhasa, there are 63 PCs, 182 mobile phones and 32 private cars. Radio, television, the Internet and other modern means of information keep growing with progress in other parts of China and the rest of the world. They have become an integral part of people's daily life in Tibet as well.
In old Tibet there was not a single school in the modern sense. Education was monopolized by monasteries, and there were only a limited number of schools run by monks and officials. Almost all students in such schools were children of the nobility. The masses of serfs and slaves had been robbed off the right of receiving education. The enrollment rate for school-age children was less than 2 percent, while the illiteracy rate was as high as 95 percent among the young and the middle-aged, to say nothing of ignorance of modern science and technology. From 1951 to 2010 the central government invested 40.73 billion yuan to give a boost to Tibet's education. Now, Tibet has basically established an educational system with special local flavor and minority ethnic characteristics, which includes pre-school, primary and middle schools, secondary vocational and technical schools, institutions of higher learning, and adult and special education institutions. In 2010 Tibet had six institutions of higher learning, 122 junior and senior high schools, and 872 primary schools. The total enrollment was over 500,000. More than 20,000 Tibetan students are studying in Tibetan classes in schools of the hinterland. In 12 hinterland provinces and municipalities of China, 42 secondary vocational schools have classes for Tibetan students. Now the enrollment rate for primary school-age children of the Tibetan ethnic group has reached 99.2 percent; that for junior high school, 98.2 percent; that for senior high school, 60.1 percent; and that for institutions of higher learning, 23.4 percent. The illiteracy rate among the young and the middle-aged has fallen to 1.2 percent. The average educational period of people above 15 years old in Tibet has reached 7.3 years. The children enjoy "three guarantees" for compulsory education, i.e., the state guarantees all tuition as well as food and lodging expenses for students from Tibet's farming, pastoral or impoverished urban families from the pre-school period all the way to the senior high school period. Subsidies for each student in this regard have reached 2,000 yuan per year.
Science and technology in Tibet started from scratch and is growing rapidly. In 2010 Tibet had 34 independent scientific research institutes at various levels, nine private research centers, 140 organizations at various levels for popularizing science and technology in the fields of agriculture and animal husbandry, and 52,107 professional technical personnel who have completed 3,253 key scientific and technological programs at the autonomous region and state levels. The scientific and technological content of economic development has increased markedly. The rate of contribution made by science and technology to overall economic growth has reached 33 percent, and that to the growth of agriculture and animal husbandry, 40 percent.
Tibet's medical services are also constantly improving. Before the peaceful liberation, there were only three small, shabby government-run institutions of Tibetan medicine and a small number of private clinics, with less than 100 medical workers altogether. By the end of 2010 there were 1,352 medical institutions of all types and at all levels in Tibet, with 8,838 hospital beds and 9,983 medical workers. A healthcare system in farming and pastoral areas has been established, with funds from the government comprising the major part, backed up by family accounts, and comprehensive arrangements for serious diseases and medical relief. A medical and healthcare network covering all counties and townships, with Lhasa as the center, has taken shape. Now, all townships in Tibet have health centers and all villages have clinics. Thanks to improvement in medical services, the Tibetan people's health level has been raised. The death rate of women in childbirth has dropped from 5,000 per 100,000 to 174.78 per 100,000, and the infant mortality rate from 430 per thousand before the peaceful liberation to 20.69 per thousand. The average life expectancy has increased from 35.5 to 67 years. According to the sixth national census, the total population of Tibet increased from one million before the peaceful liberation to more than three million, of whom 2.7164 million or 90.48 percent were Tibetans.
Tibet has established a social security system mainly covering basic pension insurance, basic medical insurance, unemployment insurance for urban workers, industrial accident insurance and maternity insurance, which cover all urban and rural residents. From November 2009, with the initiation of the New Rural Pension Social Insurance, to the end of 2010, 73 counties (cities and districts) were made pilot areas to try out the policy, granting accumulatively 76.3155 million yuan of basic pension insurance payments to residents over 60 years old in farming and pastoral areas. Pensions received by enterprise retirees reached 2,439 yuan per month per person, higher than the national average. The inpatient reimbursement rate for urban residents covered by the medical insurance policy reached 75.1 percent. The highest reimbursement of medical expenses in 2010 was 130,000 yuan, 8.7 times the per-capita disposable income of 14,980 yuan of urban dwellers in Tibet. The number of Tibetan people underwriting policies of social insurance stood at 1.6623 million, and 1.732 billion yuan of various social insurances have been collected. Meanwhile, there were 527,100 employees in the urban areas, and the registered urban unemployment rate was 3.81%.
Ethnic culture in Tibet is enjoying unprecedented prosperity, and freedom of religious belief is respected and protected.
The central and regional governments always attach great importance to carrying on, protecting and developing the excellent traditional culture of the Tibetan ethnic group. The study, use and development of the Tibetan language are protected by law, and the Tibetan script has become the first ethnic-minority script in China that has international text coding standards for information exchange. The state has altogether apportioned 1.45 billion yuan to maintain and repair the Potala Palace, the Norbulingka and Sakya Monastery, and other cultural relics and historical sites. Tibet's 76 distinctive cultural items such as folk handicrafts, folk art and Tibetan opera have been listed among items of state-level intangible cultural heritage, and 53 people have been recognized as representatives of the state-level intangible cultural heritage. The Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery and Norbulingka have been listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. Tibetan opera and the famous Legend of King Gesar have been put upon the World Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Tibetan medicine, with unique local features, has entered the world market, and Tibetology research is flourishing as never before.
Tibet's radio, TV, press and publications are also growing rapidly. In 2010 the region had four radio stations, five TV stations, 27 medium-wave transmitting and relay stations, 68 radio and TV transmitting and relay stations at the county level, and 9,371 radio and TV receiving and transmitting stations at the township level. Tibet has built China's first ethnic-minority-language radio and TV program dubbing center - Tibetan Radio and TV Program Dubbing Center. More than 380,000 households can receive 55 digital radio and TV programs though the Direct Broadcasting Satellite. The radio and TV coverage rate has reached 90.28 percent and 91.4 percent, respectively. Tibet publishes 58 kinds of newspapers and periodicals, and has accumulatively published 12,000 titles of books in Chinese and Tibetan, totaling 250 million printed copies.
Tibet now has 10 professional art performing troupes, 500-odd amateur art performing and Tibetan opera teams, and 19 folk art performing groups at the county level. A large number of traditional festivals have been inherited and revived, such as the annual Shoton Festival in Lhasa, Qomolangma Cultural and Tourist Festival in Xigaze and Summer Horse Races in Nagqu. Tibet endeavors to extend radio and TV coverage to every village and household, share cultural information and resources and establish cultural centers at the county and township levels to enrich the cultural life of farmers and herdsmen. It also endeavors to realize the complete coverage of comprehensive cultural centers and county-level sharing of cultural information and resources. A number of literary and artistic works and programs have been created which have a strong local flavor and display the features of our times, and there have been great improvement in both their quantity and quality.
Freedom of religious belief of all ethnic groups is respected and protected in Tibet. All religions, all religious sects are equal in Tibet. The Living Buddha reincarnation system, unique to Tibetan Buddhism, is fully respected. People are free to learn and debate Buddhist doctrines, get ordained as monks and practice Buddhist rites. Academic degrees in Buddhism are also promoted. The central government has listed some famous sites for religious activities as cultural relics units subject to state or autonomous regional protection, including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery, and Tashilhunpo, Drepung, Sera and Sakya monasteries. Tibet now has more than 1,700 venues for religious activities, and about 46,000 monks and nuns. Monks and laymen organize and take part in the Sakadawa Festival and other religious and traditional activities every year. More than one million worshipers make pilgrimage to Lhasa each year.
Ecological conservation has been progressing rapidly, and environmental protection is being strengthened in an all-round way.
Tibet serves as an important ecology safety barrier in China. In old Tibet macro-ecological conservation or comprehensive environmental protection was out of the question. But since the peaceful liberation, and especially since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policies, the central and regional governments have attached great importance to ecological conservation and environmental protection, and plowed in large amounts of funds, manpower and materials in these endeavors. In 2002 the central government decided to launch 160 key projects in this regard. During the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005), the state granted 3.243 billion yuan for ecological and environmental protection in Tibet, and during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) the figure tripled to 10.162 billion yuan. The people's congress and people's government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have published more than 30 local regulations, regulatory documents and administrative rules covering ecological conservation and environmental protection. A relatively comprehensive system of environmental protection has taken shape. Meanwhile, Tibet actively carries out projects to protect its natural forests, and convert farmland into forest and pastures into grassland. It also makes efforts to control desertification and soil erosion, manage small watersheds and prevent geological disasters. Tibet led the whole country to initiate the ecological compensation mechanism for the protection of grassland. It has launched a project to replace firewood with clean energy, and 150,000 households have begun to use methane gas. Tibet is home to 21 ecological function conservation areas, seven national forest parks, three geological parks, one state-class scenic area and 47 nature reserves at various levels, accounting for 34.5 percent of the total land area of the region, topping any other part in China. The forest coverage rate has risen from less than 1 percent before the peaceful liberation to 11.91 percent at present, and more than six million hectares of wetland have been protected. According to the latest report on the state of the environment of China, generally speaking, there is no pollution of the atmosphere or water in Tibet. The region has basically maintained its original natural state, being one of the areas with the best environmental quality in the world. Tibet has embarked on a path of sustainable development, with economic growth and ecological protection advancing side by side. On March 2, 2009 the central government approved the Plan for Ecology Safety Barrier Protection and Construction in Tibet (2008-2030), with the projected investment amounting to 15.5 billion yuan.
Sixty years are just a fleeting moment in the history of mankind. However, within six decades Tibet has achieved development that would normally call for a millennium. Under the leadership of the CPC and the Chinese government, the people of Tibet have created a miracle.
The 60 years following Tibet's peaceful liberation have proved that Tibet, as an inseparable part of China, shares its destiny with the motherland, and its development is also impossible without that of China. In modern times, when China was reduced to semi-colonial and semi-feudal society beset with poverty and weakness under corrupt and incompetent regimes, Tibet was also invaded and bullied by Western powers. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Tibet was peacefully liberated. Under the leadership of and with special care from the Central People's Government, and through democratic reform, the founding of the autonomous region, socialist construction and the reform and opening-up, Tibet abolished serfdom and theocracy, become a modern, democratic socialist society, achieved rapid and comprehensive economic and social development, and embarked on the road to modernity. Tibet's 60 years of development would have been impossible without the care of the Central Authorities and the support of the entire nation. Moreover, Tibet's rebirth and development would have been impossible without national unification, independence and prosperity. Only by adhering to the leadership of the CPC, the path of socialism, the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and the development mode with Chinese characteristics and Tibet's regional features, can Tibet enjoy lasting prosperity and a bright future.
Today, China is in a historical period of building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, speeding up reform and opening up and realizing modernization. The Fifth Tibet Work Forum, held by the Central Authorities, formulated the strategic goal to realize leapfrog development on the basis of the rapid development achieved so far and achieve lasting stability on basis of basic stability by proceeding from the reality of Tibet and the development of the country. Tibet is advancing smoothly in the course of reform and in all of its undertakings, and we have every reason to believe that the Tibet Autonomous Region will have a better future with the combined efforts of all ethnic groups in Tibet and the help of the entire nation.