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Special> Tibet in 50 Years> Summary
UPDATED: March 5, 2009
China Publishes White Paper to Mark 50th Anniversary of Reform in Tibet

China's government Monday published a white paper on the situation in Tibet before and since1959 to mark the 50th anniversary of the region's Democratic Reform.

The paper, released by the State Council Information Office, reviewed the profound changes that have taken place in the past 50years.

It also shed light on the laws governing the social development of Tibet, and rebut lies and rumors that were spread by the 14th Dalai Lama and his hard-core supporters.

"It is conducive to telling right from wrong in history and helps the world better understand the real Tibet," the paper said.

Tibet had been a society of feudal serfdom under theocratic rule before 1959, with the 14th Dalai Lama as the chief representative of the upper ruling strata of serf owners, the paper said.

Serf owners accounted for less than 5 percent of the population in Tibet. But they possessed the overwhelming part of the means of production, and monopolized material and cultural resources.

The serfs and slaves, comprising more than 95 percent of the population, suffered from poverty, oppression and exploitation, and had no basic human rights. They would face severe penalty if they offended their owners, and most of them were in debt generation after generation because serf owners practiced usury to further exploit them, the paper said.

The long centuries of theocratic rule and feudal serfdom stifled the vitality of Tibetan society, and led to its decline and decay, the paper said.

Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, once a Galoin (cabinet minister) of the former local government of Tibet, pointed out that "all believe that if Tibet goes on like this the serfs will all die in near future, and the aristocrats will not be able to live either.

"The whole Tibet will be destroyed."

In 1951, the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet signed an agreement on the Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, or the 17-Article Agreement.

The agreement acknowledged the necessity of reforming the social system of Tibet, and stressed that "the local government of Tibet should carry out reform voluntarily".

In an attempt to perpetuate the old social system, the upper ruling strata in Tibet publicly abandoned the agreement and staged an armed rebellion on March 10, 1959, the paper said.

The Central People's Government and the Tibetan people quelled the rebellion, to safeguard the unity of the nation and the basic interests of the Tibetan people. Meanwhile, the Chinese government launched a vigorous democratic reform to overthrow the feudal serfdom system and liberate about 1 million serfs and slaves.

The central government dissolved the Kasha regime of old Tibet and its armed forces, courts and prisons, which had oppressed Tibetan people for hundreds of years. It also kicked off campaigns in rural and pastoral areas, and monasteries to abolish rebellion, corvee labor and slavery, cut land rent and loan interests and cancel feudal privileges.

After the Democratic Reform, lives and personal freedom were protected and safeguarded by the Chinese Constitution and law.

"Serfs no longer suffer from the serf-owners' political oppression, forced labor and inhuman treatment, as well as heavy corvee taxes and usurious exploitation," the paper said.

farmland and other means of production originally occupied by serf-owners involved in the armed rebellion were confiscated and distributed to landless serfs and slaves. The land and other means of production of serf-owners who had not participated in the rebellion were redeemed by the state and then distributed to the serfs and slaves.

When the land reform was completed in 1960, the total grain output for Tibet was 12.6 percent higher than that in 1959 and 17.5 percent higher than in 1958, the year before the land reform. The total number of livestock was 10 percent more than that in 1959.

The government also adopted a policy of "political unity, freedom of religious belief and separation of politics and religion" to ensure that all religious beliefs were politically equal.

The policy abolished monasteries' feudal privileges in economy and politics, repealed monasteries' feudal occupation and exploitation, and personal slavery, as well as feudal management and hierarchy inside the monasteries.

Since 1959, Tibet had greatly developed its social system and advanced its modernization. The cause of human rights in Tibet had made remarkable progress, and the living conditions of the people were improved, the paper said.

Huge progress was also made in the protection of traditional Tibetan culture and heritage, the promotion of freedom in religious belief, education and health care, according to the paper.

Under the Chinese laws, the people of Tibet can directly elect deputies to grassroots-level people's congress, China's legislative body, who in turn elect deputies to provincial and national people's congresses.

In 2007, 96.4 percent of Tibet's voting residents participated in the process to elect some 34,000 deputies to the grassroots-level people's congresses. More than 94 percent of the elected deputies were Tibetans or other ethnic minorities, it said.

In order to assist economic development, the central government has made tremendous investments in Tibet in the past 50years. Tibet has seen its GDP soar from 174 million yuan in 1959 to 39.591 billion yuan (5.78 billion U.S. dollars) in 2008.

Since 1994 the local GDP has grown at an annual rate of 12.8 percent on average, higher than the national average for the same period, said the white paper.

"History has convincingly proved that there is no way to restore the old order, and no prospect for the success of any separatist attempt," the paper said.

The historical significance of the abolishment of serfdom in Tibet is entirely comparable to the emancipation of the slaves in the American civil war, the paper said.

However, the anti-China forces in the West simply ignored the historical facts and confused right and wrong. They hailed the 14th Dalai Lama -- chief representative of the theocratic feudal serfdom and the Tibetan serf-owners -- as a "guardian of human rights," "peace envoy," and "spiritual leader," according to the paper.

In fact, the so-called "Tibet issue" is by no means an ethnic, religious and human rights issue, but rather the western anti-China forces' attempt to restrain, split, and demonize China, the paper said.

The armed rebellion staged by the Dalai clique to split the country in 1959 was supported and instigated by imperialist forces. Ever since the Dalai clique went into exile, Western anti-China forces have never ceased their instigation and training of the Dalai clique to support their split and sabotage activities, the paper said.

"There is no way for the Dalai clique to uphold 'Tibetan independence'. neither will it succeed in its attempt to seek semi-independence or covert independence under the banner of 'a high degree of autonomy'.

"The 14th Dalai Lama must thoroughly reflect upon and correct his political position and behavior. The central government has opened and will always keep its door open for the 14th Dalai Lama to return to a patriotic stand," the paper said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2009)

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