LHASA, May 23 (Xinhuanet) -- The signing of the
"17-Article Agreement" on the peaceful liberation of Tibet in
Beijing 50 years ago turned a new page in the history of Tibet.
Legqog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional
government, said that in the past 50 years, Tibetans have walked
out of an old life which was dark, backward, uncivilized, poor
and closed, into a new life which is bright, modern, civilized,
economically prosperous and open, resulting in earthshaking progress.
The old Tibet, with its feudal serfdom, was a
very dark and decayed society. The three major kinds of serf owners,
who accounted for less than five percent of the population in
Tibet, owned serfs and slaves who made up more than 95 percent
of the Tibetan population.
Moreover, productivity in the old Tibet was very
low, and the local economy was stagnant, so the broad mass of
serfs did not have enough to eat and wear. The old Tibet far outstripped
medieval Europe in terms of cruelty and gloom. The signing of
the 17-Article Agreement in 1951 is considered a turning point
in the history of Tibet and also a great victory in the national
policy of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It reflected the
common aspirations of Tibetans and other ethnic groups in China,
destroyed the imperialist conspiracy of splitting up the motherland
and laid down a solid foundation for promoting unity of the Chinese
The democratic reform movement that followed
eight years later fully overthrew the dictatorship of upper-class
lamas and nobles who combined religion with politics and feudal
serfdom, and former serfs became masters of their own destinies.
Tibet has since bid farewell to decline and walked
on a road of prosperity. The Tibet Autonomous Region was established
in 1965 when the first regional people's congress of Tibet was
So far, the Tibet Autonomous Region has drafted
more than 150 kinds of local legislation which involve all aspects
of life in Tibet. Out of all the National People's Congress (NPC)
deputies, 19 are from Tibet, over 80 percent of whom are people
of Tibetan background or other ethnic groups. Tibetans and people
of other ethnic groups account for 80 to 90 percent of deputies
in people's congresses at all levels in Tibet. Tibetans and people
of other ethnic groups also make up 74.9 percent of Tibet's total
number of cadres.
The central government of China has invested or
allocated through fiscal subsidies more than 50 billion yuan to
Tibet in the past 50 years, starting up many rounds of construction.
By 2000, Tibet's gross domestic product (GDP) was 11.74 billion
yuan, a rise of more than 30 times over that of 1951. About 95
percent of farmers and herdsmen in Tibet have solved the problem
in finding enough to eat and wear and are heading for prosperity.
In the meantime, the region has scored good harvests
in agricultural production for 13 years running. In the old Tibet,
there were definitely no modern industries, but today's Tibet
is capable of achieving 1.83 billion yuan in industrial output
value, up 11 times from that in 1959.
There was only one small hydropower station designed
to generate electricity for a minority of the upper class in Tibet
before the peaceful liberation. Tibet has developed new energy
resources dominated by hydropower and supplemented by geothermal
and solar energy, and it is now blessed with 401 power stations
which are capable of generating 660 million kwh annually.
Fifty years ago, because there were no highways
in Tibet, the car Britain gave to the 14th Dalai Lama could only
run on the two- km earth road from the Potala Palace to the Dalai
Lama's summer palace, known as Norbu Lingka. Tibet has built a
transport network centered on Lhasa, the regional capital, since
the peaceful liberation, with the total length of highways amounting
to 25,300 km.
Within five years, highways will extend to all
the counties in Tibet, while a railway line will connect Golmud
in Qinghai Province to Lhasa. Construction of the Golmud-Lhasa
railway, considered to be the highest in the world, will start
in July this year.
Mobile phones, the Internet, wireless paging and
postal services are common means of communication among ordinary
Tibetans at present day. Tibet has also begun a new era wherein
satellites and fibre-optic cables are used as efficient tools
Tibet has witnessed all-round progress in different
social causes in the past 50 years. Thanks to progress in education,
85 percent of school-age children in Tibet attend school, while
the illiteracy rate among young people has dropped from 97 percent
in the old Tibet to the present 39 percent.
Progress has been made in press and publication
causes in today 's Tibet where traditional culture is well protected
and a fine medical care and public health network has been established.
The average life span for Tibetans has been raised from 36 years
in 1950 to today's 67 years.
Raidi, chairman of the Standing Committee of the
Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress, who witnessed the
peaceful liberation of Tibet, said the 50 years since Tibet's
peaceful liberation were 50 years when the Tibetans changed their
"In the past 50 years, Tibetan people have gained
universal human rights, become masters of the state and exercised
the rights of masters," said Raidi.