|Tibet -- Its Ownership And Human Rights Situation|
I. Ownership of Tibet
II. Origins of So-Called'Tibetan dependence'
III. The Dalai Clique's Separatist Activities and The Central Government's Policy
IV. Feudal Serfdom in Old Tibet
V. The People Gain Personal Freedom
VI. The People Enjoy Political Rights
VII. Economic Development and Improvement of Living Standards
VIII. Freedom of Religious Belief
IX. Development of Education and Culture
X. People's Health and Demographic Growth
XI. Protection of Living Environment
XII. Special State Aid for Tibet's Development
Once regarded as a mysterious region, Tibet has long thrown off its veil to reveal itself to the world. She is now experiencing earth-shaking changes in a shift from Medieval extreme backwardness to modernization.
However, the world still knows very little about real developments in this region. So those who once committed or attempted aggression against her yell at the top of their voices that Tibet is being invaded; others who once deprived the people of this region of all personal freedom shout that the human rights of the people there are being infringed. Rumors, distortion, suspicion, misunderstanding...all combine to form a layer of mist to envelop this region.
In order to know the situation there, it is imperative to look at the facts.
Therefore, the best course of action is to present them.
Tibet is located in southwest China. The ancestors of the Tibetan race who lived there struck up links with the Han in the Central Plains long before the Christian era. Later, over a long period of years, the numerous tribes scattered on the Tibet Plateau became unified to form the present Tibetan race. By the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Tibetans and Hans had, through marriage between royal families and meetings leading to alliances, cemented political and kinship ties of unity and political friendship and formed close economic and cultural relations, laying a solid foundation for the ultimate founding of a unified nation. In Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the statue of the Tang Princess Wen Cheng, who married the Tubo tsampo, king of Tibet, in 641, is still enshrined and worshiped in the Potala Palace. The Tang-Tubo Alliance Monument marking the meeting for this purpose between Tang and Tubo erected in 823 still stands in the square in front of the Jokhang Monastery. The monument inscription reads in part, "The two sovereigns, uncle and nephew, having come to agreement that their territories be united as one, have signed this alliance of great peace to last for eternity! May God and humanity bear witness thereto so that it may be praised from generation to generation."
In the mid-13th century, Tibet was officially incorporated into the territory of China's Yuan Dynasty. Since then, although China experienced several dynastic changes, Tibet has remained under the jurisdiction of the central government of China.
Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)
In the early 13th century, Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongols, established the Mongol Khanate in north China. In 1247 Sagya Pandit Gonggar Gyamcan, religious leader of Tibet, met the Mongol Prince Gotan at Liangzhou (present-day Wuwei of Gansu, China) and decided on terms for Tibetan submission to the Mongols, including presentation of map and census books, payment of tributes, and the acceptance of rule by appointed officials. The Tibetan work Sagya Genealogy written in 1629 includes Sagya Pandit's letter to the religious and secular leaders in the various parts of Tibet that they must pledge allegiance to the Mongols and accept the regional administrative system prescribed for Tibet. The regime of the Mongol Khanate changed its title to Yuan in 1271 and unified the whole of China in 1279, establishing a central government, which, following the Han (206 BC-220) and Tang dynasties, achieved great unification of various regions and races within the domain of China. Tibet became an administrative region directly under the administration of the central government of China's Yuan Dynasty.
The Yuan emperor established the Xuanzheng Yuan or Ministry for the Spread of Governance to directly handle important military and political affairs of the Tibet region. Choice of its members lay with the emperor and its reports were submitted directly to the monarch. Yuanshi, the chief minister having real authority in the Xuanzheng Yuan, was a post generally held concurrently by the right-hand prime minister of the central government who was in charge of the whole nation's governmental affairs.
In the Tibetan region, local military and administrative organs were set up under the name of the High Pacification Commissioner's Office, which was under the Xuanzheng Yuan. Under the jurisdiction of this office were 13 wanhu offices (myriarchies each in command of 10,000 households) and more qianhu offices (chiliarchies each in command of 1,000 households) handling civil administration. The names of these organizations and official posts were decided by the central government of the Yuan Dynasty. It also had troops stationed in Tibet. A royal prince and his descendents were stationed on the eastern border of Tibet at the head of an army. When Tibet was enmeshed in trouble, the prince could enter the area from nearby garrison to perform his duty of guarding the security of the border region. In 1290, when the head of a wanhu office rose in rebellion, the central government of the Yuan Dynasty dispatched the prince into Tibet at the head of his army to put it down.
The central government of the Yuan Dynasty sent officials into Tibet to set up post stations, whose size varied according to the local population, topography and resources. These post stations were linked up in a communication line extending from Tibet up to Dadu (present-day Beijing).
The central government of the Yuan Dynasty also dispatched officials into Tibet to conduct censuses, establish the number of corvee laborers in areas under various wanhu offices and decide the number of corvee laborers, provisions and animal transport the areas along the post route had to supply. Such censuses were conducted three times in Tibet, in 1268, 1287 and 1334. The Tibetan work History From the Han and Tibetan Sources records them in detail.
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
In 1368 the Ming Dynasty replaced the Yuan Dynasty in China, and inherited the right to rule Tibet.
The central government of the Ming Dynasty retained most of the titles and ranks of official positions instituted during the Yuan Dynasty. In the central and eastern parts of present-day Tibet, the Dbus-Gtsang Itinerant High Commandery and the Mdo-khams Itinerant High Commandery were set up respectively. Equivalent to provincial-level military organs, they operated under the Shaanxi Itinerant High Commandery and, at the same time, handled civil administration. In Ngari in west Tibet, the E-Li-Si Army-Civilian Marshal Office was instituted. Leading officials of these organs were all appointed by the central government.
The third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Chengzu (reigned 1403-1424) saw the advantage of combined Buddhist religious and political power in Tibet and rivalry between sects occupying different areas. So he conferred honorific titles on religious leaders in various parts of Tibet such as the "prince of Dharma," "prince" and "national master in Tantrism." Succession to such princeship needed the approval of the emperor, who would send an envoy to confer the official title on each new prince. Only then could the new prince assume his role. According to the stipulations of the Ming court, the prince had to dispatch his envoy or come in person to the capital to participate in the New Year's Day celebration each year and present his memorial of congratulation and tribute. The Ming court had detailed stipulations that limited the dates for presenting tributes, the number of personnel allowed in the capital, the route to be taken, and also provisions to be supplied by local authorities along the route. The tablets wishing longevity to the emperors before which the prayers had to prostrate themselves are still kept in some of the monasteries in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Lama are the two leading incarnation hierarchies of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Gelug Sect rose during the Ming Dynasty, and the 3rd Dalai Lama was the abbot of one of the sect's monasteries. The central government of the Ming Dynasty showed him special favor by allowing him to pay tribute. In 1587 he was granted the title of Dorjichang or Vajradhara Dalai Lama.
Any official of the Tibetan local government who offended the law was punished by the central government.
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
When the Qing Dynasty replaced the Ming Dynasty in 1644, it further strengthened administration over Tibet. In 1653 and 1713, the Qing emperors granted honorific titles to the 5th Dalai Lama and the 5th Bainqen Lama, henceforth officially establishing the titles of the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni and their political and religious status in Tibet. The Dalai Lama ruled the bulk of areas from Lhasa while the Bainqen Erdeni ruled the remaining area of Tibet from Xigaze. In 1719, Qing government troops were sent into Tibet to dispel the Zungar forces which had been entrenched in Lhasa for three years, and set out to reform Tibet's administrative system. The Qing emperor made a young Living Buddha of the Xikang area the 7th Dalai Lama and had him escorted into Tibet, and appointed four Tibetan officials renowned for meritorious service "Galoins" to handle Tibet's political affairs. From 1727, High commissioners were stationed in Tibet to supervise local administration on behalf of the central authorities. Officials were also assigned about this time to survey and delimit the borders between Tibet (i.e. Xizang) and Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai.
In order to perfect Tibet's administrative organizations, the Qing Dynasty on many occasions enacted "regulations" to rectify and reform old systems and establish new ones. The Authorized Regulations for the Better Governing of Tibet, promulgated in 1793, had 29 articles. Their major purport was:
The Qing government holds the power to confirm the reincarnation of all deceased high Living Buddhas of Tibet including the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni. When the reincarnate boy has been found, his name will be written on a lot, which shall be put into a gold urn bestowed by the central government. The high commissioners will bring together appropriate high-ranking Living buddhas to determine the authenticity of the reincarnate boy by drawing lots from the gold urn. (Both the gold urn and lots are still preserved in Lhasa.) The tonsure of the incarnate Living Buddha, his religious name, the choice of the master to initiate him into monkhood and his sutra instructor all have to be reported by the high commissioners to the imperial court for examination and approval. The central government will send high officials to supervise in person the installation ceremony for the new Dalai Lama and the new Bainqen Erdeni and also the ceremony for their taking over reins of government at coming of age.
The high commissioners will supervise the handling of Tibetan affairs on behalf of the central government, enjoying the equal standing with the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni. All the Galoins and those below them are subordinates.
The ranks and numbers of Tibetan civil and military officials, and procedures for their promotion and replacement are stipulated. The highest-Ranking Tibetan officials including four Galoins and six Deboins are to be appointed by the central government. The annual salaries of the Galoins and Deboins will be paid by the central government.
A regular army of 3,000 will be organized in Tibet. The regulations stipulate ranks and numbers of military officials, the source of troop pay and provisions, plus weaponry and places where troops are to be stationed. In addition, some 1,400 troops will be transferred from the interior to stations in various localities of Tibet. Both Tibetan and Han troops are put under the command of officers sent by the central government.
A mint will be set up in Tibet along the lines established by those in the interior to make official money for circulation. On the two sides of the silver coinage the words "Qianlong Treasure" will be cast in the Han Chinese and Tibetan.
The annual financial receipts and expenditures of the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni will be subject to checking by the high commissioners.
Tibet's taxation and corvee labor will be born by the whole society on an equal footing. Only those nobles and large monasteries who have made real contributions will enjoy preferential treatment and exemptions, but these must be examined and approved by the high commissioners and the Dalai Lama, who will issue them licences for this purpose.
Merchants from Nepal and Kashmir wanting to do business in Tibet must register. The registration book must be filed with the high commissioners for record. The appropriate officials will issue laissez-passers to them. Any foreigner applying to enter Lhasa must be examined for approval by the High Commissioner's Office. The high commissioners will issue laissez-passers to Tibetans who apply to go to Nepal or other places, and set the leaving and returning dates for them.
National boundary markers will be erected in a number of places where southwest Tibet borders on countries like India and Nepal. The high commissioners will make an annual tour in Tibet to inspect the defense arrangements of the troops stationed there and matters concerning border markers.
All foreign affairs involving Tibet will be left completely in the hands of the high commissioners. No Galoin is allowed to maintain correspondence with the outside, and all letters and alms received by the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni from the outside must be submitted to the high commissioners for censorship and decision concerning a reply.
Criminal punishment will be reported to the high commissioners for examination and approval.
Between 1727, when the high commissionership was first established, and 1911, the year the Qing Dynasty was overthrown, the central government of the Qing Dynasty stationed more than 100 high commissioners in Tibet.
Republic of China (1912-49)
In the autumn of 1911, revolution took place in China's interior, overthrowing the 270-year-old rule of the Qing Dynasty and establishing the Republic of China.
Upon its founding, the Republic of China declared itself a unified republic of the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui, Tibetan and other races. In his inauguration statement on January 1, 1912, Sun Yat-sen, the provisional first president of the Republic of China, declared to the whole world: "The foundation of the country lies in the people, and the unification of lands inhabited by the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui and Tibetan people into one country means the unification of the Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui and Tibetan races. It is called national unification." The five-color flag used as the national flag at that time represented the unification of the five main races. In March the Nanjing-based provisional senate of the Republic of China promulgated the republic's first constitution, the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China, in which it was clearly stipulated that Tibet was a part of the territory of the Republic of China.
In order to form the first parliament of the Republic of China, the Beijing government promulgated on August 10, 1912 the Organic Law of the Parliament of the Republic of China and the law on elections for members of parliament. These statutes specified the methods for Tibetans to participate in elections, and the right of elected parliamentary members to have a direct say in government affairs. When the Chinese Kuomintang formed the national government in 1927 in Nanjing and held the national assembly in 1931, both the 13th Dalai Lama and the 9th Bainqen Erdeni sent representatives to participate. Article I of the General Outline of the Constitution for the Political Tutelage Period of the Republic of China, formulated during the assembly, stipulated that Tibet belonged to the territories of the Republic of China. The Tibetan local government and the Bainqen's administrative body, Kampus Assembly, also sent representatives to the national assembly in 1946 called by the Nanjing national government.
As in the previous Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the central government of the Republic of China exercised jurisdiction over Tibet. The Bureau of Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs (renamed Mongolian and Tibetan Council in May 1914) was established by the central government in 1912 to replace the Qing Dynasty's Department in Charge of Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs. The bureau was responsible for Tibetan local affairs. The central government also appointed a representative to Tibet to carry out the responsibilities of the high commissioners stationed in Tibet by the Qing Dynasty. After the Nanjing national government was set up, a Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs was established in 1929 to handle the administrative affairs of the Tibetans, Mongolians and other ethnic minorities. In April 1940 the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs opened an office in Lhasa as the permanent mission of the central government in Tibet.
Traditionally, the Dalai Lama, the Bainqen Erdeni and other high Living Buddhas had to be recognized and appointed by the central government in order to secure their political and religious legal status in Tibet. Despite the fact that incessant foreign aggression and civil wars weakened the central government of the Republic of China, it continued to grant honorific titles to the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni. On many occasions the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni expressed their support for national unification and for the central government. In 1919, the 13th Dalai Lama told a delegation sent by the Beijing central government, "It is not my true intention to be on intimate terms with the British.... I swear to be loyal to our own country and jointly work for the happiness of the five races." In his later years (in 1930), he said, "My greatest wish is for the real peace and unification of China." "Since it is all Chinese territory, why distinguish between you and us?" He further elaborated, "The British truly intend to tempt me, but I know that our sovereignty must not be lost." He also publicly expressed his determination "not to affiliate with the British nor forsake the central government" (Liu Manqing: A Mission to Xikang and Tibet). The 9th Bainqen noted in his will, "The great plan I have promoted all my life is the support of the central government, the spread of Buddhism, the promotion of the unity of the five nationalities and the guarantee of national prosperity."
The death of the 13th Dalai Lama in December 1933 was reported to the central government by the Tibetan local government in the traditional manner. The national government sent a special envoy to Tibet for the memorial ceremony. It also approved the Living Buddha Razheng as the regent to assume the duties and power of the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan local government also followed the age-old system in reporting to the central government all the procedures that should be followed in search for the reincarnation of the late 13th Dalai Lama. The present 14th Dalai Lama was born in Qinghai Province. Originally named Lhamo Toinzhub, he was selected as one of the incarnate boys at the age of 2. After receiving a report submitted by the Tibetan local government in 1939, the central government ordered the Qinghai authorities to send troops to escort him to Lhasa. After an inspection tour in Lhasa by Wu Zhongxin, chief of the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs, in 1940, Chiang Kai-shek, then head of the central government, approved Tibetan Regent Razheng's request to waive the lot-drawing convention, and the chairman of the national government issued an official decree conferring the title of the 14th Dalai Lama on Lhamo Toinzhub.
People's Republic of China
The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949 after decisive victories in the Chinese People's War of Liberation. Beiping, Hunan and the provinces bordering on Tibet--Yunnan, Xinjiang and Xikang--were all liberated peacefully from the rule of the former Kuomintang government. In light of the history and reality of Tibet, the central people's government decided to do the same for Tibet. In January 1950, the central government formally notified the local authorities of Tibet to "send delegates to Beijing to negotiate the peaceful liberation of Tibet." However, the then Tibetan Regent Dagzhag Ngawang Sungrab and others who were in control of the Tibetan local government, supported by some foreign forces and disregarding the interests of the country and the Tibetans, rejected the central government's call for negotiation on the peaceful liberation of Tibet. They deployed the main body of the Tibetan army in the Qamdo area in east Tibet for armed resistance. Under such circumstances, the central government was left with no choice and had to order the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to cross the Jinsha River in October 1950, and Qamdo was liberated.
Following this event, the central government once again urged the Tibetan local government to send delegates to Beijing for negotiations. The central government's adherence to the policy of peaceful negotiations greatly supported and inspired the patriotic forces in Tibet. The upper-class patriotics, represented by Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, stood for peaceful negotiation, winning the endorsement and support of the majority. The 14th Dalai Lama who had assumed power ahead of time accepted the proposal. In his letter to the central people's government in January 1951, he said, "I have come to govern at the warm and earnest request of all Tibetans"; "I have decided to fulfill the people's desire through peaceful means"; and delegates would be sent "to seek a solution to the Tibetan issue with the central people's government." In February 1951, the Dalai Lama appointed Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme as his chief plenipotentiary and Kemai Soinam Wangdui, Tubdain Daindar, Tubdain Legmoin and Sampo Dainzin Toinzhub as delegates and sent them to Beijing to handle with full power the negotiations with the central people's government.
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 (i.e., the 17-Article Agreement) was signed after the delegates of the central people's government and the Tibetan local government had reached agreement on a series of questions concerning Tibet's peaceful liberation. It was stipulated in the agreement that the Tibetan people should unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet; the local government of Tibet should actively assist the PLA in entering Tibet and consolidating national defense; national regional autonomy would be instituted in Tibet; the central government would not alter the existing political system in Tibet or the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni, and officials of various ranks would continue to hold office as usual; the policy of freedom of religious belief would be upheld and the religious beliefs, customs and habits of the Tibetan people would be respected; the spoken and written language and school education of the Tibetan nationality would be developed step by step, along with agriculture, livestock raising, industry and commerce in order to improve the people's livelihood; foreign affairs involving the Tibet region would be under the unified management of the central people's government. The agreement also explicitly stipulated that in matters relating to reforms in Tibet, there would be no coercion on the part of the central authorities, and reform would be carried out by the Tibetan local government of its own accord.
The agreement for the peaceful liberation of Tibet enjoyed the approval and support of the people from every ethnic group in Tibet. A conference of all ecclesiastic and secular officials and representatives of the three most prominent monasteries was called by the Tibetan local government between September 26 and 29, 1951 to specifically discuss the agreement. A report to the Dalai Lama was approved at the end of the conference. It stated, "The 17-Article Agreement that has been signed is of great and unrivaled benefit to the grand cause of the Dalai and to Buddhism, politics, economy and other aspects of life in Tibet. Naturally it should be implemented." The Dalai Lama sent a telegram to Chairman Mao Zedong on October 24, 1951, in which he wrote, "On the basis of friendship, delegates of the two sides signed on May 23, 1951 the Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. The Tibetan local government as well as ecclesiastic 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 in consolidating national defense, ousting imperialist influences from Tibet and safeguarding the unification of the territory and the sovereignty of the motherland." The Bainqen Lama and the Kampus Assembly also issued a statement, pointing out that the agreement "conforms fully to the interests of all ethnic nationalities of China, particularly those of the Tibetans." On October 26, with the support of the Tibetan people, the PLA entered Lhasa without a hitch.
After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the central people's government and upper-class patriotic forces of Tibet did a great deal of work to implement the 17-Article Agreement. In 1954 the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Erdeni came to Beijing to attend the First Session of the National People's Congress (NPC) of the People's Republic of China. In his speech at the congress, the Dalai Lama fully confirmed the achievements in the implementation of the 17-Article Agreement over the preceding three years, and expressed his warm support for the principles and provisions concerning national regional autonomy in the draft of New China's first Constitution, which was under discussion at the congress. Talking about religious issues, the Dalai Lama said that the Tibetan people had deeply held religious beliefs, and they were formerly made anxious by fallacious rumors spread by some people that "the Communist Party and the people's government will extinguish religion." However, he added, "the rumors that aim to sow discord have all been exploded and the Tibetan people know from our own experience that we have freedom of religious belief." He expressed the desire to gradually build Tibet into a land of prosperity and happiness under the leadership of the central people's government and with the help of people of other ethnic groups. On September 20, the Dalai Lama, the Bainqen Erdeni and the other Tibetan deputies, along with the deputies from other ethnic groups, approved the Constitution of the People's Republic of China by casting their ballots. At the session, the Dalai Lama was elected a vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, and Bainqen Erdeni a member of the NPC Standing Committee. In their capacity as state leaders, they exercised their rights of participating in the management of state affairs in accordance with the Constitution.
On April 22, 1956, the Dalai Lama became chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. In his speech at the inaugural meeting, the Dalai Lama said, "In 1951, I sent delegates to Beijing to negotiate with delegates of the central people's government. On the basis of fraternal unity, the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet was signed. Since then, the Tibetan people shook off forever the fetters of imperialist enslavement and trammels and rejoined the large national family. Like our sibling races throughout the country, the Tibetan people fully enjoy all rights of national equality, and are embarking on a bright road of freedom and happiness."
For more than 700 years the central government of China has continuously exercised sovereignty over Tibet, and Tibet has never been an independent state. Now millions of files in both Chinese and Tibetan recording historical facts over more than seven centuries are being kept in the archives of Beijing, Nanjing and Lhasa. No government of any country in the world has ever recognized Tibet as an independent state. British Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne, in a formal instruction he sent out in 1904, called Tibet "a province of the Chinese Empire." In his speech at the Lok Sabba in 1954, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said, "Over the past several hundred years, as far as I know, at no time has any foreign country denied China's sovereignty over Tibet." The Dalai clique and overseas anti-China forces used to claim that between the 1911 Revolution and the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Tibet became a country "exercising full authority." Historical facts refute such a fallacy. The simple reality that the installation of the 14th Dalai Lama needed the approval of the national government is sufficient proof that Tibet did not possess any independent power during that period. Therefore, the so-called "Tibetan independence" which the Dalai clique and overseas anti-China forces fervently propagate is nothing but a fiction of the imperialists who committed aggression against China in modern history.
There was no such word as "independence" in the Tibetan vocabulary at the beginning of the 20th century. After the British imperialists started the Opium War of aggression against China in 1840, China was reduced from an independent sovereign country to a semi-colonial country. Imperialist forces took advantage of a weak Qing Dynasty and began plotting to carve up China, Tibet included.
In order to bring Tibet into its sphere of influence, British aggressors invaded China's Tibet twice in 1888 and 1903. The Tibetan army and civilians rose to resist but were defeated. In the second aggressive war against Tibet, the British army occupied Lhasa, and the 13th Dalai Lama was forced to flee from the city. The invaders compelled the Tibetan local government officials to sign the Lhasa Convention. But because the Ministry of External Affairs of the Qing government believed the Lhasa Convention would do damage to national sovereignty, the high commissioner stationed in Tibet by the Qing government refused to sign it, leaving it ineffectual.
After their failure to assume full control of Tibet through direct military incursion, the imperialists changed their tack and began plotting to separate Tibet from China. On August 31, 1907, Britain and Russia signed the Convention Between Great Britain and Russia, which changed China's sovereignty over Tibet into "suzerainty." This marked the first time Chin's sovereignty over Tibet was altered into "suzerainty" in international documents.
The year following the 1911 Revolution, Britain took advantage of the political chaos in China after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the new birth of the Republic of China, and put before the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs a five-point demand, indicating the denial of China's sovereignty over Tibet. When the Chinese government rejected the British demand, the British blocked all the roads leading from India to Tibet. In 1913 the British government inveigled the Tibetan authorities into declaring independence and proposed that "Britain be the weaponry supplier after total independence of Tibet;" "Tibet accept British envoys' supervision of Tibetan financial and military affairs in return for Britain's support of Tibetan independence;" "Britain be responsible for resisting the army of the Republic of China when it reaches Tibet;" "Tibet adopt an open policy and allow freedom of movement of the British." (Zhu Xiu: 60-Year Chronology of Tibet) However, Britain's schemes failed.
In 1913, taking advantage of the fact that Yuan Shikai, who had usurped the presidency of the Republic of China, was eager to get foreign diplomatic recognition and international loans, the British government forced the Beijing government to participate in a tripartite conference of China, Britain and Tibet, namely the Simla Conference held at the behest of the British government. Before the conference, Charles Bell political officer sent to Sikkim by the British-Indian government, privately met with Lon-chen Shatra, the representative of the Tibetan local government to the conference. Bell trumpeted to Lon-chen Shatra that "suzerainty" implied "independence." In his book Tibet: Past and Present, Bell wrote, "When I met Lon-chen Shatra in Gyantse, I advised him to bring down all the documents which he could collect bearing on the Tibetan relationship to China in the past, and on the former's claims to the various provinces and districts which had from time to time been occupied by China." Stirred up by the British, the Tibetan representative raised the slogan of "Tibetan independence" for the first time. He also claimed "Tibetan territory includes Qinghai, Litang, Batang and Dajianlu." When these demands were rejected by the representative of the Chinese government, the British delegate introduced the pre-arranged "compromise" scheme, which divided China's Tibetan-inhabited areas into "inner Tibet" and "outer Tibet." "Inner Tibet," including Tibetan-inhabited areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, would be under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government. With regard to "outer Tibet," including Tibet and west Xikang, the Chinese government was requested to "recognize the autonomy of outer Tibet" and "refrain from interfering in its internal affairs;" "however, China may still send its high commissioner to Lhasa and maintain an escort army of no more than 300 soldiers." The essence of this "compromise" scheme was to change China's sovereignty over Tibet into "suzerainty," and separate Tibet from the authority of the Chinese government under the pretext of "autonomy." Naturally these unreasonable demands were strongly opposed by the Chinese people. On July 3, 1914, the Chinese government representative Chen Yifan upon instruction refused to sign the Simla Convention. In his statement, Chen said, "Government of China refuses to recognize any agreement which His Majesty's Government and Tibet might conclude independently either now or in the future." The Chinese government also sent a note to the British government, reiterating its position. Therefore, the conference broke down.
In the summer of 1942, the Tibetan local government, with the support of the British representative, suddenly announced the establishment of a "foreign affairs bureau," and openly carried out "Tibetan independence" activities. These actions, as soon as they were made public, were condemned unanimously by the Chinese people. The national government also issued a stern warning. Under this pressure, the Tibetan local government had no choice but to withdraw its decision and reported the change to the national government. At the "Asian Relations Conference" held in New Delhi in March 1947, the British imperialists plotted behind the curtains to invite Tibetan representatives and even identified Tibet as an independent country on the map of Asia in the conference hall and in the array of national flags. The organizers were forced to rectify this after the Chinese delegation made serious protests.
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, a load of American weaponry was shipped into Tibet through Calcutta in order to help resist the PLA's entry into Tibet. On November 1 of the same year, US Secretary of State Dean Acheson openly slandered China's liberation of its own territory of Tibet as "invasion." In the same month the United States prodded some other countries to propose a motion at the United Nations for intervention in China's Tibet. The scheme was unsuccessful in face of the stern stand of the Chinese government and the opposition of some countries.
Historical facts over more than a century clearly demonstrate that so-called "Tibetan independence" was, in reality, cooked up by old and new imperialists out of their crave to wrest Tibet from China. The 14th Dalai Lama in his early years pointed out, "It was the imperialists who, taking advantage of the Tibetan people's antipathy to the Qing Dynasty and the reactionary Kuomintang government, attempted by enticement, deception and instigation to get the Tibetan people to separate from the motherland and come under their oppression and enslavement."
Before peaceful liberation in 1951, Tibet was under a feudal serfdom characterized by the dictatorship of upper-class monks and nobles. The broad masses of serfs in Tibet eagerly wanted to break the shackles of serfdom. After the peaceful liberation, many enlightened people of the upper and middle classes also realized that if the old system was not reformed, the Tibetan people would never attain prosperity. In light of Tibetan history and the region's special situation, the central people's government adopted a very circumspect attitude toward the reform of the social system in Tibet. The 17-Article Agreement stipulated that the central government would not use coercion to implement such reform and that it was to be carried out by the Tibetan local government on its own. During his visit to India in January 1957, Premier Zhou Enlai of the State Council handed a letter from Chairman Mao Zedong to the Dalai Lama and Bainqen Lama and the accompanying Tibetan local government senior officials. The letter informed them of the decision of the central authorities that reform would not be conducted during the Second Five-Year Plan period (1958-62); whether reform should be conducted after six years would still be decided by Tibet according to its own situation and conditions then.
However, some members of the Tibetan ruling class were hostile to reform and wanted to preserve the serfdom forever so as to maintain their own vested interests. They deliberately violated and sabotaged the 17-Article Agreement and intensified their efforts to split the motherland. Between March and April 1952, Sicab Lukangwa and Losang Zhaxi of the Tibetan local government gave secret support to the illicit organization "the people's conference" to oppose the 17-Article Agreement and create disturbance in Lhasa, demanding that the PLA "pull out of Tibet." In 1955, Galoin Surkang Wangqen Geleg of the Tibetan local government and others secretly plotted an armed rebellion in the Tibetan-inhabited area of Xikang Province. Rebellion broke out in that area in 1956 and the rebels besieged the local government institutions and massacred hundreds of government staff as well as common people. In May 1957, with the support of Galoins Neuxar Tubdain Tarba and Xainga Gyurme Doje, a rebel organization named "four rivers and six ranges" and later the rebel armed forces named "religion guards" were founded. They raised the slogan of "Tibetan Independence" and "opposition to reform" and further intensified their rebellious activities. The armed rebels harassed Qamdo, Dengqen, Heihe and Shannan. They killed cadres, disrupted communication lines, and attacked institutions and army troops stationed there by the central authorities. They looted, cruelly persecuted people and raped women. A merchant named Dongda Bazha in Nedong County was captured together with his wife because he refused to take part in the rebellion. The rebels tied up the couple and lashed them before killing the husband and raping his wife. The then Tibetan local government admitted that many Tibetan people lodged complaints against the rebels with it. In August 1958 alone, there were more than 70 complaints.
The central people's government, in the spirit of national unity, repeatedly urged the Tibetan local government to punish the rebels to maintain public order. Meanwhile, it told the Galoins of the Tibetan local government, "The central government will not change its decision on postponing reform in Tibet and in the future, when the reform is conducted, the policy to be followed will still be one of peaceful reform." However, the reactionary clique of the upper social strata in Tibet took the extreme forbearance of the central government as a sign of weakness and easiness to bully. They declared, "For nine years, the Hans have not dared to touch our most glorious and sacrosanct system. When we attacked them, they could only parry our blows without being able to strike back. So long as we transfer a large number of troops to Lhasa from outside, the Hans will surely flee at the first blow. If they don't run away, we will carry His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Shannan, and gather our strength there to launch a counter-attack and seize back Lhasa. If all these efforts fail, we can go to India."
The armed rebellion in Tibet was supported from the beginning by foreign anti-China forces. In his book The United States, Tibet and China American Norman C. Hall reveals that in 1957 the CIA culled six young men from among Tibetans residing abroad and sent them to Guam of the United States to receive training in map-reading, radio transmission, shooting and parachuting. Subsequently, the United States trained 170 "Kamba guerrillas" in batches in Hale Camp, Colorado. The trained "Kamba guerrillas" were air-dropped or sneaked into Tibet to "launch an effective resistance movement" to "oppose the Chinese occupation." An article entitled The CIA Tibetan Conspiracy in the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review disclosed in its September 5 issue of 1975 that in May 1958, two agents trained by the Americans in the first batch brought a transceiver to the headquarter set up by the rebel leader Anzhugcang Goinbo Zhaxi in Shannan to make contact with the CIA. Before long, the United States air-dropped arms and ammunition, including 20 sub-machine guns, two mortars, 100 rifles, 600 hand-grenades, 600 artillery shells and close to 40,000 bullets, to the rebels in the plateau called Chigu Lama Thang. During the same period, the United States clandestinely shipped large amounts of arms and ammunition overland to the rebels entrenched in the Shannan area.
With the collusion of the Tibetan serf-owners bent on retaining serfdom and the foreign anti-China forces, the rebellious activities soon became rampant. The climax was the elaborately planned armed rebellion in Lhasa on March 10, 1959.
On February 7, the Dalai Lama took the initiative and said to Deng Shaodong, deputy commander of the Tibet Military Area Command, and other officers, "I was told that after its return from studies in the hinterland, the Song and Dance Ensemble under the Tibet Military Area Command has a very good repetoire. I would like to see its show. Please arrange it for me." Deng and the other officers expressed immediate readiness and asked the Dalai Lama to fix the time and place for performance. They also conveyed the Dalai Lama's wish to Surkang and other Galoins of the Tibetan local government and Paglha Tubdain Weidain, adjutant general of the Dalai Lama. On March 8, the Dalai Lama said he would go to the performance in the Tibet Military Area Command Auditorium at 3 pm on March 10. The Tibet Military Area Command carefully prepared for the occasion. But on the evening of March 9, the Miboin (mayor) of Lhasa provoked citizens by saying: tomorrow the Dalai Lama will go to the Military Area Command for a banquet and a performance; the Hans have prepared a plane to kidnap the Dalai Lama to Beijing; every household should send people to Norbu Lingka, the residence of the Dalai Lama, to petition him not to attend the performance in the Military Area Command. The next morning, the rebels coerced more than 2,000 people to mass at Norbu Lingka, spreading the rumor that "the Military Area Command is planning to poison the Dalai Lama" and shouting slogans such as "Tibetan Independence" and "Away with the Hans." The rebels hit and wounded Sampo Cewang Rinzin, a former Galoin of the Tibetan local government and then a deputy commander of the Tibet Military Area Command. They stoned to death Kainqoin Pagbalha Soinam Gyamco, a progressive patriot and member of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. His body was tied to the tail of a horse and dragged through downtown as a warning. Subsequently, the rebel leaders convened the so-called "people's congress" and "people's conference of the independent state of Tibet," intensifying their efforts to organize and expand armed rebellion. They brazenly tore up the 17-Article Agreement and declared "the independence of Tibet," launching a full-scale armed rebellion against the motherland.
Although Norbu Lingka was controlled by the rebels and it was hard to make contact with the Dalai Lama, acting representative of the central government Tan Guansan managed to send three letters to the Dalai Lama on March 10, 11 and 15 through patriots. In them, Tan expressed his understanding of the Dalai Lama's situation as well as his concern for the latter's safety. He pointed out that the rebels were making reckless military provocations and demanded that the Tibetan local government immediately work to stop them. The Dalai Lama penned three letters in reply to Tan on March 11, 12 and 16. In his letters, the Dalai Lama wrote, "Reactionary, evil elements are carrying out activities endangering me under the pretext of ensuring my safety. I am taking measures to calm things down." "The unlawful activities of the reactionary clique cause me endless worry and sorrow.... As to the incidents of yesterday and the day before, which were brought about under the pretext of ensuring my safety and have seriously estranged relations between the central people's government and the local government, I am making every possible effort to deal with them." In the letter of March 16, he said that he had "educated" and "severely criticized" officials of the Tibetan local government. He also expressed the desire to still go to the Military Area Command a few days later. All three letters of the Dalai Lama have been photographed by reporters of the Xinhua News Agency and published, and are still well preserved.
However, on the evening of March 17, Galoins Surkang, Neuxar and Xaisur and other rebel leaders held the Dalai Lama under duress and carried him away from Lhasa to Shannan, the "base" of the armed rebel forces. When the armed rebellion failed, they fled to India.
After the Dalai Lama left Lhasa, about 7,000 rebels gathered to wage a full-scale attack on the Party, government and army institutions before dawn on March 20. The PLA, driven beyond its forbearance, launched under orders a counterattack at 10 am the same day. With the support of patriotic Tibetan monks and lay people, the PLA completely put down the armed rebellion in Lhasa within two days. Before long, the PLA suppressed the armed rebellion in Shannan, where the rebels had been entrenched for a long time. Armed rebel forces who fled to other places were dissolved.
The PLA was highly disciplined in the course of quelling the rebellion and this won the wholehearted support of Buddhist monks and laymen. They took the initiative to help the PLA in putting down the rebellion. Various self-defense, joint-defense, livestock protection and other forms of joint-defense teams sprang up in various places to build roads, provide transport, dispatch mail, serve as guides, boil tea, send water, stand sentry and give first-aid to wounded PLA soldiers, effectively isolating the rebels.
Starting from the point of maintaining the unification of the motherland and national unity, the central government adopted an attitude of patient waiting towards the Dalai Lama after he fled abroad. His position as a vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee was preserved until 1964. However, surrounded by foreign anti-China forces and Tibetan separatists, the Dalai Lama completely renounced the patriotic stand which he once expressed and engaged in numerous activities to split the motherland.
-- Publicly advocating that "Tibet is an independent state." In June 1959, the Dalai Lama issued a statement in Mussoorie, India which read "Tibet had actually been independent." In March 1991, during his visit to Britain, the Dalai Lama told the press that Tibet "is the biggest occupied country in the world today." He proclaimed on many occasions that "the task of realizing the independence of Tibet has fallen upon all Tibetans in and outside Tibet."
-- Setting up the "government in exile." In the early 1960s, the Dalai clique convened the "people's congress of Tibet" in Dharamsala, India, which established the so-called "Tibetan government in exile." A so-called "constitution" was promulgated, which states that "the Dalai Lama is the head of state," "the ministers shall be appointed by the Dalai Lama" and "all work of the government shall not be approved without the consent of the Dalai Lama." The 1991 revised "constitution" of the Dalai clique still stipulates that the Dalai is "the head of the state." The Dalai Lama and his so-called "government in exile" kept levying an "independence tax" on Tibetans residing abroad, established "offices" in some countries, published magazines and books advocating "Tibetan independence" and engaged in political activities for "Tibetan independence."
-- Reorganizing the armed rebel forces. In September 1960, the Dalai clique re-organized the "religion guards of the four rivers and six ranges" in Mustang, Nepal, which carried on military harassment activities along the Chinese border for ten years. Its first commander-in-chief Anzhugcang Goinbo Zhaxi wrote in his memoirs Four Rivers and Six Ranges that "a series of attacks were organized on Chinese outposts" and "sometimes, 100 or 200 Tibetan guerrillas went as far as 100 miles into the area occupied by the Chinese." The Dalai Lama wrote articles praising Goinbo Zhaxi.
-- Spreading rumors and calumnies and plotting riots. Ignoring facts, the Dalai Lama fabricated numerous lies to sow dissension among the various nationalities and incite the Tibetan people to oppose the central government during his 30-year self-exile abroad. He said that "the 17-Article Agreement was imposed on Tibet under armed force"; "the Hans have massacred 1.2 million Tibetans"; "owing to Han immigration, the Tibetans have become a minority in Tibet"; "the Communists in Tibet force women to practice birth control and abortion"; the government opposes religious freedom and persecutes religious people; traditional Tibetan culture and art are in danger of extinction; the natural resources in Tibet have been seriously depleted; there is severe environmental pollution in Tibet, etc. The riots in Lhasa from September 1987 to March 1989 were incited by the Dalai clique and plotted by rebels who were sent back to Tibet. The riots incurred severe losses to the lives and property of Tibetans.
The Dalai's words and deeds have showed that he is no longer only a religious leader as he claims. On the contrary, he has become the political leader engaged in long-term divisive activities abroad.
The central government has adopted a consistent policy towards the Dalai Lama. It urges him to renounce separatism and return to the stand of patriotism and unity.
On December 28, 1978, the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said to AP correspondents that "the Dalai Lama may return, but only as a Chinese citizen"; "we have but one demand -- patriotism. And we say that anyone is welcome, whether he embraces patriotism early or late." This indicates the central government's attitude of welcoming the Dalai Lama back to the motherland.
The Dalai Lama sent representatives to Beijing to contact the central government on February 28, 1979. On March 12, Deng Xiaoping met the Dalai Lama's representatives and said to them, "The Dalai Lama is welcome to come back. He can go out again after his return." With regard to the central government's negotiation with the side of the Dalai Lama, Deng pointed out, "Now, whether the dialogue to discuss and settle problems will be between the central government and Tibet as a state or Tibet as a part of China? This is a practical question." "Essentially Tibet is a part of China. This is the criterion for judging right or wrong."
The central government did everything possible to persuade the Dalai Lama and his followers, through negotiations, to give up their separatism and return to the motherland. The central government leaders have since 1980 met a number of delegations sent back by the Dalai Lama and reiterated on many occasions the central government's policy towards the Dalai Lama.
To satisfy the desire of both local and overseas Tibetans for visits and contacts, the central government has formulated and practiced the policy of free movement in and out of the country. It has also made clear that all patriots belong to one big family, whether they rally to the common cause now or later, and bygones can be bygones. From August 1979 to September 1980, central government departments concerned received three visiting delegations and two groups of relatives sent by the Dalai Lama. Most of the Dalai Lama's kin residing abroad have made return visits to China. Since 1979, Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas have received some 8,000 overseas Tibetans who came to visit relatives or for sightseeing, and helped settle nearly 2,000 Tibetan compatriots.
Regretfully, the Dalai Lama did not draw on the good will of the central government. Instead, he further intensified his separatist activities. At a meeting of the Human Rights Subcommittee of the US Congress held in September 1987, the Dalai Lama put forward a "five-point proposal" regarding the so-called status of Tibet. He continued to advocate "Tibetan Independence," and instigate and plot a number of riots in Lhasa. In June 1988, the Dalai Lama raised a so-called "Strasbourg proposal" for the solution of the Tibet issue. On the premise that Tibet "had always been" an independent state, the proposal interpreted the issue of a regional national autonomy within a country as a relationship between a suzerain and a vassal state, and between a protector and a protected state, thus denying China's sovereignty over Tibet and advocating the independence of Tibet in a disguised way. The central government naturally rejected the proposal, because it was a conspiracy the imperialists once hatched in order to carve up China. The Chinese government solemnly declared, "China's sovereignty over Tibet brooks no denial. Of Tibet there could be no independence, nor semi-independence, nor independence in disguise."
Nevertheless, the central government still hopes that the Dalai Lama would rein in at the brink of the precipice and change his mind. In early 1989, the 10th Bainqen Lama passed away. Taking into account the historical religious ties between various generations of the Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Lama as teacher and student, the Buddhist Association of China, with the approval of the central government, invited the Dalai Lama to come back to attend the Bainqen Lama's memorial ceremonies. President Zhao Puchu of the association handed a letter of invitation to a personal representative of the Dalai Lama, providing the Dalai Lama with a good opportunity to meet with people in the Buddhist circles in China after 30 years of exile. But the Dalai Lama rejected the invitation.
As 1989 witnessed a new international anti-China wave, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Norway, with clearly political motives, awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama, giving its strong support to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan separatists. Since then, the Dalai Lama has travelled the world, advocating Tibet's separation from China.
The Dalai Lama simultaneously intensified his efforts to incite and plot riots in Tibet. On January 19, 1990, he said over the BBC: If the Beijing government fails to hold talks with him on his plan of Tibet's autonomy within a year, he will have to change his stand of compromise with China; many young Tibetans stand for the use of force. On April 4, 1991, the Dalai Lama said in the Tibetan language program of the Voice of America, "All matters shall be further strengthened for Tibet's independence." Again on October 10 the same year, he tried instigation in a similar program, "At present, so large a number of Hans are pouring into Tibet that many young Tibetans cannot find jobs. This adds a further element of instability in the Tibetan society. Therefore, new riots are quite possible."
It is because the Dalai Lama sticks to his position of "Tibetan independence" and continues his efforts to split the motherland in and outside China that contacts between the central government and the representatives of the Dalai Lama have yielded no results.
In an interview with Xinhua News Agency reporters on May 19, 1991, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Tibet's peaceful liberation, Premier Li Peng of the State Council of the People's Republic of China pointed out, "The central government's policy towards the Dalai Lama has been consistent and remains unchanged. We have only one fundamental principle, namely, Tibet is an inalienable part of China. On this fundamental issue there is no room for haggling. The central government has always expressed its willingness to have contact with the Dalai Lama, but he must stop activities to split the motherland and change his position for 'Tibetan independence.' All matters except 'Tibetan independence' can be discussed."
The central government is willing to contact and negotiate with the Dalai Lama; the door remains open. The central government's policy towards the Dalai Lama is also clear. To be responsible for the history, the Chinese nation and its 1.1 billion people, including the Tibetan people, the central government will make not the slightest concession on the fundamental issue of maintaining the motherland's unification. Any activity attempting to realize "Tibetan independence" and split the motherland by relying on foreign forces is an ignominious move betraying the motherland and the whole Chinese nation including the Tibetan nationality. The central government resolutely denounces this kind of action and will never allow it to succeed. The central government will continue to implement a series of special policies and preferential measures to promote the construction and development of Tibet so as to enhance national unity, construct a prosperous economy, enrich culture and improve the people's livelihood. Any activity sabotaging stability and unity in Tibet and any unlawful deed creating disturbance and inciting riots runs against the basic interests of the Tibetan people and will be cracked down on relentlessly.
So long as the Dalai Lama can give up his divisive stand and admit that Tibet is an inalienable part of China, the central government is willing to hold talks at any time with him. The Dalai Lama is warmly welcome to return to the embrace of the motherland at an early date and do some work that is conducive to maintaining the motherland's unification, the national unity, as well as the affluent and happy lives of the Tibetan people.
Before the Democratic Reform of 1959 Tibet had long been a society of feudal serfdom under the despotic religion-political rule of lamas and nobles, a society which was darker and more cruel than the European serfdom of the Middle Ages. Tibet's serf-owners were principally the three major estate-holders: local administrative officials, nobles and upper-ranking lamas in monasteries. Although they accounted for less than 5 percent of Tibet's population, they owned all of Tibet's farmland, pastures, forests, mountains and rivers as well as most livestock. Statistics released in the early years of the Qing Dynasty in the 17th century indicate that Tibet then had more than 3 million ke of farmland (15 ke equal to 1 hectare), of which 30.9 percent was owned by officials, 29.6 percent by nobles, and 39.5 percent by monasteries and upper-ranking lamas. Before the 1959 Democratic Reform, Tibet had 197 hereditary noble families and 25 big noble families, with the biggest numbering seven to eight, each holding dozens of manors and tens of thousand of ke of land.
Serfs made up 90 percent of old Tibet's population. They were called tralpa in Tibetan (namely people who tilled plots of land assigned to them and had to provide corvee labor for the serf-owners) and duiqoin (small households with chimneys emitting smoke). They had no land or personal freedom, and the survival of each of them depended on an estate-holder's manor. In addition, nangzan who comprised 5 percent of the population were hereditary household slaves, deprived of any means of production and personal freedom.
Serf-owners literally possessed the living bodies of their serfs. Since serfs were at their disposal as their private property, they could trade and transfer them, present them as gifts, make them mortgages for a debt and exchange them. According to historical records, in 1943 the aristocrat Chengmoim Norbu Wanggyai sold 100 serfs to a monk official at Garzhol Kamsa, in Zhigoin area, at the cost of 60 liang of Tibetan silver (about four silver dollars) per serf. He also sent 400 serfs to the Gundelin Monastery as mortgage for a debt of 3,000 pin Tibetan silver (about 10,000 silver dollars). Serf-owners had a firm grip on the birth, death and marriage of serfs. Male and female serfs not belonging to the same owner had to pay "redemption fees" before they could marry. In some cases, an exchange was made with a man swapped for man and a woman for woman. In other cases, after a couple wedded, the ownership of both husband and wife remained unchanged, but their sons would belong to the husband's owner and their daughters to the wife's owner. Children of serfs were registered the moment they were born, setting their life-long fate as serfs.
Serf-owners ruthlessly exploited serfs through corvee and usury. The corvee tax system of old Tibet was very cruel. Permanent corvee tax was registered and there were also temporary additional corvee taxes. Incomplete statistics indicate the existence of more than 200 categories of corvee taxes levied by the Gaxag (Tibetan local government). The corvee assigned by Gaxag and manorial lords accounted for over 50 percent of the labor of serf households, and could go as high as 70-80 percent. According to a survey conducted before the Democratic Reform, the Darongqang Manor owned by Regent Dagzhag of the 14th Dalai Lama had a total of 1,445 ke of land, and 81 able-bodied and semi-able-bodied serfs. They were assigned a total of 21,260 corvee days for the whole year, the equivalent of an entire year's labor by 67.3 people. In effect, 83 percent of the serfs had to do corvee for one full year.
The serfs engaged in hard labor year in and year out and yet had no guaranteed food or clothing. Often they had to rely on money borrowed at usury to keep body and soul together. The annual interest rate for usurious loans was very high, while that for money borrowed from monasteries was 30 percent, and for grain 20 or 25 percent. Monetary loans from nobles exacted a 20 percent interest, while that for grain amounted to 20 or 25 percent.
Gaxag had several money-lending institutions, and the Dalai Lama of various generations had two organizations specialized in lending money. Incomplete records in the account books of the two cash-lending bodies of the Dalai Lama in 1950 show that they had lent out about 3.0385 million liang of Tibetan silver in usurious loans.
Snowballing interest of usurious loans created debts which could never be repaid by even succeeding generations and debts involving a guarantor resulted in the bankruptcy of both the debtor and the guarantor. The grandfather of a serf named Cering Goinbo of Maizhokunggar County once borrowed 50 ke of grain (1 ke equal to 14 kg) from the Sera Monastery. In 77 years the three generations had paid more than 3,000 ke of grain for the interest but the serf-owner still claimed that Cering Goinbo owed him 100,000 ke of grain. There was another serf named Dainzin in Donggar County who in 1941 borrowed one ke of qingke barley from his master. In 1951 when he was asked to repay 600 ke, he was forced to flee, his wife was driven to death and his seven-year-old son was taken away to repay the debt by labor.
In order to safeguard the interests of serf-owners, Tibetan local rulers formulated a series of laws. The 13-Article Code and 16-Article Code, which were enforced for several hundred years in old Tibet, divided people into three classes and nine ranks. They clearly stipulated that people were unequal in legal status. The codes stipulated, "It is forbidden to quarrel with a worthy, sage, noble and descendant of the ruler"; "persons of the lower rank who attack those of the upper rank, and a junior official who quarrels with a senior official commit a serious crime and so should be detained"; "anyone who resists a master's control should be arrested"; "a commoner who offends an official should be arrested"; "anyone who voices grievances at the palace, behaving disgracefully, should be arrested and whipped." The standards for measuring punishment and the methods for dealing with people of different classes and ranks who violated the same criminal law were quite different. In the law concerning the penalty for murder, it was written, "As people are divided into different classes and ranks, the value of a life correspondingly differs." The lives of people of the highest rank of the upper class, such as a prince or leading Living Buddha, are calculated in gold to the same weight as the dead body. The lives of people of the lowest rank of the lower class, such as women, butchers, hunters and craftsmen, are worth a straw rope. In the law concerning compensation for injury, it was stipulated that a servant who injures his master should have his hands or feet chopped off; a master who injures a servant is only responsible for the medical treatment for the wound, with no other compensation required.
Making use of written or common law, the serf-owners set up penitentiaries or private jails. Local governments had law courts and prisons, as had large monasteries. Estate-holders could build private prisons on their own manor ground. Punishments were extremely savage and cruel, and included gouging out the eyes; cutting off ears, hands and feet; pulling out tendons; and throwing people into water. In the Gandan Monastery, one of the largest in Tibet, there were many handcuffs, fetters, clubs and other cruel instruments of torture used for gouging out eyes and ripping out tendons. Many materials and photos showing limbs of serfs mutilated by serf-owners in those years are kept in the hall housing the Tibetan Social and Historical Relics Exhibition in the Beijing Cultural Palace of Nationalities.
Under the centuries-long feudal serfdom, the Tibetan serfs were politically oppressed, economically exploited and frequently persecuted. A saying circulated among serfs, "All a serf can carry away is his own shadow, and all he can leave behind is his footprints." Old Tibet can be said to have been one of the world's regions witnessing the most serious violations of human rights.
Despite the cruel rule of the feudal serfdom, Tibetan laboring people never ceased their resistance struggles. They strove for their personal rights by making petitions, fleeing, resisting rent and corvee and even waging armed struggle. However, they were subjected to ruthless suppression by the three big estate-holders. The law of old Tibet stated, "All civilians who rebel all commit felonies." In such incidences not only the rebel himself would be killed, but his family property would be confiscated and his wife be made a slave. The 5th Dalai Lama once issued the order, "Commoners of Lhari Ziba listen to my order: .... I have authorized Lhari Ziba to chop off your hands and feet, gouge out your eyes, and beat and kill you if you again attempt to look for freedom and comfort." This order was reiterated on many occasions by his successors in power.
The central people's government and the local government of Tibet signed in 1951 the 17-Article Agreement on measures for the peaceful liberation of Tibet, and Tibet was peacefully liberated. This brought hope to the Tibetan people in their struggle for equal personal rights. After the quelling of the armed rebellion in 1959, the central people's government, in compliance with the wishes of the Tibetan people, conducted the Democratic Reform in Tibet and abolished the extremely decadent and dark feudal serfdom. The million serfs and slaves were emancipated. They were no longer regarded as the personal property of serf-owners who could use them for transactions, transfer, mortgage for a debt or exchange or exact their toil. From that time on they gained the right to personal freedom. This was a great, epoch-making change in Tibetan history.
Now old Tibet's codes have been abrogated. Citizens are no longer divided into three classes and nine ranks. All sorts of barbarous punishments are prohibited and privately established prisons have all been dismantled. New China's Constitution and laws guarantee that every Tibetan enjoys the right to subsistence and personal safety.
The Democratic Reform abolished the ownership of the means of production by serf-owners. The farmland originally occupied by those serf-owners involved in the armed rebellion was distributed free to landless serfs and slaves. In Kesong Manor, Nedong County in Shannan Prefecture, 443 peasants were given 1,696 ke of land. When the title deeds for land and debt contracts were thrown into the fire, the former serfs danced around the blaze. The 75-year-old Soinam said, "I used to till the land of my master, and I belonged to him day and night. When asked to do corvee at midnight, I dared not wait till dawn the next day. Now I have received land. I feel I can sleep well and have a good appetite. I really want to live several years longer so that I can see the happy future." A policy of redemption was introduced with regard to the land and other means of production of serf-owners who did not participate in the rebellion. The 900,000 ke of land and over 820,000 head of livestock of the 1,300 serf-owners and their agents, who did not participate in the rebellion, were redeemed by the state at a cost topping 45 million yuan.
The Tibetan laboring people no longer suffer from the heavy corvee taxes and usurious exploitation by the serf-owners. The fruits of their labor all belong to themselves, and the enthusiasm of the Tibetan people for production became unprecedentedly high. The region's grain output in 1960 increased by 12.6 percent over 1959 and the number of livestock by 10 percent. The Tibetan people began to enjoy the right to subsistence, along with adequate food and clothing.
Under the political system combining religion with politics and despotic rule by feudal estate-holders in old Tibet, the Dalai Lama was one of the leaders of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and also head of the Tibetan local government. He held both political and religious power. The official system of the former Tibetan local government was a dual one of monk and lay officials. In the administrative organs, there were both monk and lay officials, with the former higher than the latter in rank. But there were monk officials in some organizations. Monasteries enjoyed special jurisdiction in handling political affairs. Abbots of the three major monasteries (Gandan, Sera and Zhaibung) and the four large ones (Gundeling, Dangyailing, Cemoinling and Cejoiling) participated in all "enlarged meetings of officials" to discuss important events. Resolutions adopted at the meetings became effective only when they bore the stamps of the local government and the three major monasteries.
The Democratic Reform in 1959 put an end to the political system of combining religious with political rule and introduced the new political system of people's democracy. Under the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the Tibetan people, like the people of various nationalities throughout the country, have become masters of the country and enjoy full political rights provided for by the law.
Citizens of the Tibet Autonomous Region who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote and to stand for election, regardless of their ethnic status, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status, or length of residence. They can directly vote for deputies to the people's congresses of counties, districts, townships and towns. These deputies can in turn elect deputies to the national, autonomous regional and municipal people's congresses. The people exercise the power of managing the state and local affairs through the people's congresses at all levels. The political enthusiasm of the Tibetan people is high because they have obtained the right to be masters of their own affairs. They have actively exercised their rights. Statistics of Lhasa, Nagqu, Xigaze, Nyingchi and Shannan on the elections for deputies to the Fifth People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1988 show that 93.88 percent of the people there voted. To enable illiterates to participate, beans were used in place of ballots in many places. Voters placed beans in the bowls behind the back of the candidates of their choice. Those with the most beans went into office. Currently, deputies of the local ethnic minorities, with Tibetans as the main force, account for over 95 percent of the total local deputies to the people's congresses at the district and county levels and the figure is over 82 percent for those to the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Most of the current chairmen of the Standing Committees of the people's congresses of the 75 counties (cities and districts) in the autonomous region used to be serfs or slaves in old Tibet.
The Tibetan Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was set up in Tibet in 1959 to ensure that people of all social strata and of all walks of life can fully voice their opinions and play their roles in social and political life. The CPPCC, an organization of the broadest patriotic united front under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, is an important political organization conducting political consultation, implementing mutual supervision and developing socialist democracy. Its role has been brought into full play in Tibet. The CPPCC Tibetan Committee has drawn on the participation of the people of all social strata from Tibetan and other ethnic groups. Many of them were patriotic monk and secular officials of the former local government of Tibet and upper-class religious figures. They include Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, the Great Living Buddha of Qamdo Prefecture, who is now vice-chairman of the CPPCC National Committee and vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region; and Lhalu Cewang Doje, a former Tibetan noble man and a Galoin of the Tibetan local government, who is currently vice-chairman of the CPPCC Tibetan Committee. Through the political consultative conferences, these people have participated in the discussion and management of state affairs and helped the government in making decisions. Their motions raised at past conferences have involved ethnic groups, religion, culture and education, science and technology, public health, agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, urban and rural construction and environmental protection. They have played an important role in safeguarding the unification of the motherland, strengthening national unity, opposing national separation, inheriting and developing traditional national culture, speeding up development of Tibetan economy, and promoting reform and opening up.
Tibet practices regional national autonomy in accordance with the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. In March 1955, the central government decided to set up the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. In September 1965, the First Session of the First People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region was held in Lhasa and the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region was officially announced. Most deputies of the tibetan nationality to the congress were emancipated serfs and slaves, as well as patriots from the upper strata and religious figures. At the congress, Ngapoi Nagwang Jigme was elected chairman of the People's Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Having smashed the yoke of the feudal serfdom, the broad masses of serfs and slaves obtained political and national equal rights.
The Law of the People's Republic of China Governing Regional National Autonomy stipulates, "People's congresses in the areas of national autonomy have the right to formulate regulations on the exercise of autonomy or specific regulations in accordance with the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the local nationalities." In accordance with the rights bestowed by the Law Governing Regional National Autonomy, the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region has since 1965 formulated more than 60 local rules and regulations, decrees, decisions and resolutions, involving political, economic, cultural and educational aspects, which conform to the reality of Tibet and maintain the interests of Tibetan people. They include the Rules of Procedures of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Procedures on Formulating Local Laws and Regulations for the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Measures for the Management of Mining by Collective Mining Enterprises and Individuals in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Resolutions on Study, Use and Development of the Tibetan Language in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Protection and Management of Cultural Relics, and the Accommodation Rules for the Implementation of the Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China. The formulation and implementation of these local rules and regulations have furnished an important legal guarantee to the realization of democratic rights for the Tibetan people and to the development of local social, economic and cultural undertakings.
To enable the Tibetan people to better perform the right to manage state and local affairs, the central government has attached great weight to the training of cadres of Tibetan nationality. Currently, there are 37,000 cadres of Tibetan nationality in the Tibet Autonomous Region. All the main leading posts in the people's congresses, governments and people's political consultative conferences at various levels are filled by Tibetans. Cadres of Tibetan nationality account for 66.6 percent of the total in Tibet, 71.7 percent at the regional level and 74.8 percent at the county level. Tibetan women were in the lowest echelon of society in old Tibet. Today, many of them hold leading posts, accounting for upwards of 30 percent of the cadres in the autonomous region in 1986. At present, five have become cadres at the regional level, 38 at the prefectural level and 232 at the county level. Most Tibetan cadres are emancipated serfs and slaves. There are also some patriots from the upper class. Appropriate arrangements have also been made even for those serf-owners and their agents who participated in the rebellion, giving them the chance to contribute to the state and people if they renounce their reactionary stand and possess real skills.
In judicial activities, in addition to enjoying equal legal rights with the people in other parts of the country, the Tibetan people have also been granted special rights stipulated in the Law of the People's Republic of China Governing Regional National Autonomy. The People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region stipulates, "People's courts and procuratorates at various levels must guarantee the right of Tibetan citizens to use their own national language to enter a lawsuit. In cases involving the Tibetans, Tibetan language should be used in doing procuratorial work and hearing cases, and legal documents should be written in the Tibetan language." At present, the main officials of the procuratorates and courts at all levels in Tibet are Tibetan citizens.
The feudal serfdom in old Tibet seriously handicapped the development of the social productive forces. The economy in Tibet was in a state of extreme backwardness for a long time. Wooden ploughs were the basic tools for agricultural production and yaks were employed for threshing. Slash and burn cultivation and the burning of grass to fertilize land were still customs retained in a few localities. In 1952, each mu of land (15 mu equal to 1 hectare) could only produce 80 kg of grain on the average and the per-capita share of grain came to 125 kg. Livestock breeding hinged on climatic conditions and frequent natural calamities often caused the deaths of large numbers of animals. In 1952, the region had only 9.74 million head of livestock. The handicrafts industry was also extremely backward and modern industry was nonexistent in old Tibet. Dangerous and difficult roads made it hard to travel in the region. The transport of goods and the delivery of mail had to depend on human and animal power. There were no bridges on the Yarlung Zangbo River that dissects Tibet, except for a few chain constructions left over from the Ming Dynasty. Since there were no highways in Tibet, the car given to the Dalai Lama by the British had to be dismantled and carried to Lhasa by draught animals. Tibet was also backward in regard to sources of energy. In 1950, on the eve of Tibet's peaceful liberation, there was only one 125-kw hydropower station in the region, which supplied electricity only intermittently. The backward economy and the cruel exploitation by the serf-owners kept the people in dire poverty and misery. As far as Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, was concerned, there were only 20,000 residents in the city proper before the Democratic Reform in 1959, and close to 1,000 tattered tents thrown together for the poor and beggars could be seen on the outskirts of the city. Prison authorities offered no food to the convicts, and "prisoners" in handcuffs and wooden cangues begged in the streets. And the pathetic remains of those homeless people who died of frost and hunger could be spotted anywhere in the city.
The Democratic Reform has greatly fired the enthusiasm of farmers and herdsmen for production. In the past four decades, particularly since the reform and opening up of the last ten years and more, earth-shaking changes have taken place in Tibet. With the support of the central government and people throughout the country, the Tibetan people have developed production, alleviated poverty and built up family fortunes.
The development of agriculture and animal husbandry has been given top priority in the Tibetan economy. During the early stage of the Democratic Reform, the central government and the Tibetan local government formulated a series of policies and principles for the development of agriculture and animal husbandry which were compatible with the local conditions. Financial and material support was also provided. As a result, Tibet's production levels of agriculture and animal husbandry increased greatly. Total grain output rose from 180 million kg in 1959 to 315 million kg in 1966, registering an average growth rate of 8.3 percent a year. Cattle soared from 9.556 million head in 1959 to 18.175 million head, a rise of 90.2 percent. The living standards of the people took the first step towards improvement.
Since 1980, the government has imposed no levies on farmers and herdsmen, with both agricultural and livestock taxes exempted. In 1984, in addition to continuing the practice of interest exemption for agricultural and livestock loans, the government annulled repayment of pre-1980 collective loans used for the building of water conservancy projects and purchasing machinery for agriculture and animal husbandry. Agricultural and pastoral areas have introduced various forms of contracted production responsibility systems on a household basis, developed household sideline occupations, restored open markets and conducted large-scale capital construction of farmland and grassland. Before the liberation of Tibet, there was no farm machinery or chemical fertilizer in Tibet. Nowadays, farming households own tractors. Scientific farming and breeding of cattle has become highly valued and welcomed. Introduction of modern tools for production and the application of science and technology have boosted overall production. In 1991, the total output value of agriculture reached 2.046 billion yuan in Tibet, 4.4 times higher than in 1952. Grain output came to 580 million kg and the average per-mu yield was 224 kg, showing rises of 3.7 times and 2.8 times respectively over 1952. Although the 1991 population of Tibet was almost double that in 1952, the per-capita share of grain in 1991 came to 290.5 kg, or an increase of 2.2 times that of 1952. The output of animal by-products rose by a substantial margin. In 1991, the total meat output stood at 91,000 tons and the total output of milk reached 177,000 tons.
Modern industry started after the Democratic Reform of Tibet. In 1965, 80 industrial enterprises were established in Tibet. Employing close to 10,000 workers, they covered the building, power, motor vehicle repair, lumber, tanning, borax and coal industries. The total industrial output value reached 28.83 million yuan that year. The government has paid close attention to the development of the national handicrafts. In 1965, it had widened to encompass 33 trades and its total annual output value rose from 1.24 million yuan before the Democratic Reform to 8.9 million yuan, showing a 7.2-fold rise. Tibet was short of petroleum and coal, and energy supply was inadequate in the past. To change the situation, a power station was built in Lhasa in 1956. It was the first public power enterprise in Tibet. Tibet is rich in geothermal resources and the state invested in building a geothermal power station in Yangbajain with the biggest generating capacity in China. In 1991, the installed power generating capacity of Tibet reached 140,000 kw and the annual output of generated electricity came to 400 million kwh. After 40 years of construction, Tibet boasts a dozen or so modern industries such as power, mining, building materials, lumber, wool textile, printing and food. Employees of state-owned enterprises total 51,000. In 1991, the total industrial output value came to 403 million yuan, a rise of 5.3 times that of 1959. The output value of the handicrafts stood at 46 million yuan.
Tibet had no regular highways in the past. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the first large-scale construction project was to build highways from Sichuan and Qinghai to Lhasa on the high mountain ridges with an average elevation of 3,000 meters. The Sichuan-Tibet Highway is 2,413 km long and the Qinghai-Tibet Highway 2,122 km long. Since then, the Xinjiang-Tibet, Yunnan-Tibet and China-Nepal highways have been built one after another. Currently, there are 15 arterial highways and 315 feeder roads, with a total length of 21,842 km, throughout Tibet. Except for Medog County which is located deep in the mountains, highways provide access to all the counties and 77 percent of the townships in Tibet. A highway network, with Lhasa at the center, consisting mainly of the Qinghai-Tibet, Sichuan-Tibet, Yunnan-Tibet and China-Nepal highways, has taken shape. In order to solve Tibet's fuel supply problem, the state allocated funds to build a refined oil transmission pipeline from Golmud in Qinghai Province to Lhasa. This 1,080-km-long pipeline has played an important role in guaranteeing energy supplies for Tibet in its economic construction. To meet Tibet's need to open to the outside world, since the start of an air route from Lhasa to Beijing in 1956, domestic airlines have offered services from Lhasa to Chengdu, Xian, Lanzhou, Shanghai and Guangzhou. International air links have been inaugurated between Lhasa and Kathmandu, Nepal.
Modern science and technology did not exist in old Tibet. The period since the Democratic Reform has seen the establishment of agricultural, animal husbandry, communications, power, construction, geological, water conservancy, meteorological, public health, pharmaceutical and educational research institutions in Tibet. They have trained Tibetan scientific and technical personnel. The Academy of Social Sciences of the Tibet Autonomous Region was set up in 1985. Currently, Tibet has 17 special scientific research institutions with 26,900 technical personnel. Over the past 40 years, 347 scientific and technological achievements have been awarded prizes at the autonomous regional level. Of these, 21 scientific research achievements such as "the comprehensive development and utilization of solar energy resources in Tibet" have been honored by state prizes.
The snowy peaks, famous monasteries and relics of historical interest on the Tibetan Plateau have attracted many adventurers and tourists from other countries. In opening up, Tibet's tourism industry has gradually flourished. At present, Tibet has 11 travel agencies and 19 tourist hotels and guesthouses with 3,600 beds for foreign guests. The autonomous region has opened over 60 scenic spots to the public. Between 1980 and 1991, Tibet received 150,900 overseas tourists.
Due to efforts made in the past 40-odd years the living standards of the Tibetan people have improved markedly. Most farmers and herdsmen have adequate food and clothing and some have attained relative affluence. In 1991, the average net income of farmers and herdsmen in the region was 455 yuan. Allowing for price increases, the figure was 2.6 times higher than the 159 yuan of 1979. In the Zholgyur Village, Yadong County at the foot of the Himalayas, the annual income of the 75 households was 361,600 yuan in 1986 and 74 households have built new dwellings. The per-capita income of residents in cities and towns is 2,120 yuan a year, 3.3 times higher than in 1981. By the end of 1991, savings deposits of city and township residents totalled 492.4 million yuan, over 500 times more than in 1959. Farmers and herdsmen have obtained considerable amount of means of production. Each household owns 6,021 yuan worth of fixed assets for production purposes and 75 head of cattle. For every 100 households, there are nine motor vehicles, six tractors, three power-driven threshers, and 12 horse-drawn carts. The average per-capita material consumption of farmers and herdsmen has increased enormously compared with the period before the liberation of Tibet. In 1991, the per-capita consumption of grain was 183.6 kg. Other figures were 3.6 kg for edible oil, 14.7 kg for meat and 50 kg for milk. While retaining their traditional diet, Tibetans have expanded it to also include more vegetables, eggs, wine, sweets and pastries. The living conditions of the people have improved markedly. According to statistics produced by the local government of old Tibet, of a population of 1 million in Tibet in 1950, some 900,000 lacked real housing. Currently, except for the pastoral areas, all households have fixed housing. In 1991, the per-capita floor space of city and township residents reached 13.7 square meters. In Gyangze County of Xigaze Prefecture, which has a population of 56,700, over 80 percent have moved into new dwellings, with a per-capita floor space of 40 square meters. The traditional way of life of the Tibetan people has been somewhat modernized. A sample survey shows that for every 100 urban households, there are 212 bicycles, 88 color televisions, 84 radio cassette recorders, 42 washing machines, 24 refrigerators and 26 cameras. The construction of various cultural facilities has increasingly enriched the ethical outlook and cultural life of Tibetan people.
Due to Tibet's extremely harsh natural conditions and its extremely backward social development in history, the level of economic development and the living standards of the people are still lower than the nation's average. In 1989, the government of Tibet Autonomous Region formulated the Strategic Ideas for the Economic and Social Development of Tibet. It has implemented the policy of opening up to the rest part of China and the outside world as well; exploring the regional, domestic and foreign markets; developing advantageous resources and stepping up development of key areas and key industries. The goal is to narrow as soon as possible the gap in economic development between Tibet and other areas of the nation in order to lay a solid foundation for the common prosperity of Tibetan and other ethnic groups.
The majority of Tibetans believe in Tibetan Buddhism. There are also about 2,000 Muslims and 600 Catholics in the autonomous region.
Respect for and protection of freedom of religious belief is a basic policy of the Chinese government. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, organizations at all levels in Tibet earnestly carried out the policy, gaining the appreciation of both monks and lay people. Protected by the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and state laws, the Tibetan people now enjoy full freedom to participate in normal religious activities. Almost every religious family has a small sutra recitation hall or a niche for a Buddhist statue. More than 1 million worshipers make the pilgrimage to Lhasa each year. Sutra streamers and Mani stone mounds put up by devout believers can be seen everywhere in Tibet. Inside and outside famous monasteries such as the Jokhang are crowds of worshipers either prostrating in prayer, turning their prayer wheels or bowing to Buddhist statues.
During the period of the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), however, in Tibet as in other parts of China, the policy on freedom of religious belief was disrupted, and sites and facilities for religious activities were seriously damaged. After the "cultural revolution" ended, the policy on freedom of religious belief began to be implemented again in Tibet in an all-round way. Since 1980, unjust, false and wrong cases have been redressed in Tibet and religious institutions have been reinstated or established, and a great deal of work has been done to ensure freedom of religious belief for all citizens. Over the past decade and more, the Chinese government has appropriated more than 200 million yuan in special funds to implement the religious policy in Tibet. The funds were used to renovate the Jokhang Monastery built in the 7th century, the Samye Monastery built by the king of the Tubo Kingdom in the 8th century, and the four famous monasteries of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism -- Zhaibung, Sera, Gandan and Tashilhunpo. For the renovation of the Potala Palace alone, the central government allotted a lump sum of more than 40 million yuan. In 1984, the central government provided 6.7 million yuan in special funds, 111 kg of gold, 2,000 kg of silver and large quantities of jewelry for the renovation, under the direction of the late 10th Bainqen Lama, of the holy stupas and the memorial halls for the 5th to the 9th Bainqen Lamas. To date, more than 1,400 religious centers have been renovated and opened to the public, meeting the needs of the religious people for their normal religious life. The government has also exerted every effort to locate those Buddhist statues, instruments used in Buddhist services and other religious articles that got lost during the "cultural revolution" and distributed them to the various monasteries and temples, to the welcome of monks and lay people.
In recent years, various religious organizations have organized religious activities on their own. The Tibet branch of the Buddhist Association of China established the Tibet College of Buddhism in 1983 and opened sutra studying classes in some monasteries and temples of various religious sects. There are a total of 3,000 monk students. Every year, a number of Living Buddhas and lamas are sent to the China Tibetan Language High Institute of Buddhism in Beijing for advanced studies. In 1984, the autonomous region's people's government presented the Lhasa edition of the Gangyur of Tripitaka in Tibetan, which used to be kept in local archives, to the Tibet Buddhist Association. It offered 500,000 yuan to the latter for the establishment of the Lhasa Sutra Printing House which, in recent years, has printed more than 1,000 volumes of the Gangyur of Tripitaka in Tibetan for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and temples located both inside and outside the autonomous region. In 1990, with another 500,000 yuan proffered by the government, the Tibet Buddhist Association started the carving of printing blocks for the Lhasa edition of the Dangyur of Tripitaka in Tibetan in Lhasa's Muru Monastery. The 13th Dalai Lama had intended to commission the work, but the plan never materialized. The journal Tibetan Buddhism was launched by the Tibet Buddhist Association in 1985. Today, the region has more than 34,000 lamas and nuns. A total of 615 people from religious circles have become deputies to the people's congresses and members of the people's political consultative conferences at various levels, as well as directors of the Buddhist associations and government officials. They participate in the management and discussion of government affairs and devote themselves to Tibet's construction undertakings together with other local citizens.
The government respects and protects traditional religious activities and the rites of the various sects. According to the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism and historical traditions, after a Living Buddha passes away his position should be inherited by his incarnation through traditional methods. On June 25, 1992, the central government confirmed the incarnate soul boy of the 16th Living Buddha Garmaba. Government department officials attend such religious activities as the annual Grand Summons Ceremony in Lhasa, the pilgrimage to Snow Mountain in the Year of the Horse, the pilgrimage to the Holy Lake of Nam Co in the Year of the Sheep and the Walking-Around-Religious-Rock Festival at the Razheng Monastery, and offer alms each time. Wedding and funeral customs with religious links also receive full regard.
Thanks to the earnest implementation of the policy on freedom of religious belief, different religions, sects, monasteries, and both religious and secular people in Tibet respect one another and live in harmony. China's Constitution also clearly stipulates that no one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens and hamper the country's educational system. Those who carry out law-breaking and conduct criminal activities under the guise of religion will be prosecuted according to law. In recent years, some monks and nuns in Tibet received legal retribution because they infringed on the law. They were involved in riots that endangered social security and disrupted public order, engaged in beating, smashing, looting, burning and killing and carried out other criminal activities. None was arrested and declared guilty because of religious belief.
Buddhist organizations and religious circles in Tibet have actively carried out friendly exchanges with their counterparts abroad. Since China introduced reform and opening up, the Tibet branch of the Buddhist Association of China and some monasteries and temples have organized religious groups to go on friendly tours, visits, inspections and academic exchanges abroad. They have also hosted more than 10,000 people from several dozen countries who came, either in groups or individually, on pilgrimage, or for sightseeing or inspection tours.
Since the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, many noted religious figures have worked in co-operation with the Chinese Communist Party and the government, and participated in the management and discussion of government affairs. They have played an active part in the construction of the country and Tibet, earning the admiration of the people and winning the respect of the government. For several decades, the late 10th Bainqen Erdeni Qoigyi Gyaincan, co-leader of Tibetan Buddhism with the Dalai Lama, constantly adhered to a patriotic stand and made great contributions to the peaceful liberation of Tibet, to the struggle against separatism, to the safeguarding of the unification of the motherland and to the strengthening of the unity of various ethnic groups. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, he served as a vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee and the honorary president of the Buddhist Association of China. He passed away in January 1989. The government decided to build a holy stupa and memorial hall for the remains of the 10th Bainqen Erdeni Qoigyi Gyaincan in the Tashilhunpo Monastery in Xigaze, and hold memorial ceremonies, preserve his body and look for and choose the reincarnated soul boy to succeed him according to Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Currently, structures of the holy stupa and the memorial hall are basically completed, and the search for the child is proceeding smoothly under the charge of Living Buddha Qazha Qamba Chilai of the Tashilhunpo Monastery.
Education in old Tibet was very backward. There were no schools in the modern sense. Before Tibet's peaceful liberation, only some 2,000 monks and children of the nobility studied in government and private schools. The masses of serfs and slaves had no right to receive education.
Under the stipulation of the 17-Article Agreement concerning the gradual development of the spoken and written Tibetan language and school education, the Lhasa Primary School was founded in 1952 and the Lhasa Middle School established in 1956. this enabled Tibet to embark on the road to modern education.
To develop education in Tibet, the government has invested more than 1.1 billion yuan and introduced a series of special policies over the past 40 years. Education is free. All the study costs of Tibetan students, from primary school to university, are covered by the government. Since 1985, free food, clothing and accommodation have been provided for some Tibetan primary and middle school students, and boarding schools have been introduced in the vast rural and pastoral areas. The principle of "giving priority to local nationalities" has been carried out in recruiting students for various kinds of schools at different levels. Priority is given to candidates of Tibetan and other local nationalities in the recruitment of university, college and secondary vocational school students. Efforts are being made to establish more departments and schools of Tibetan culture covering Tibetan language, medicine, art and history.
Over the past four decades and more, Tibet has basically established an educational system with both special local flavor and national characteristics which includes pre-school, primary and middle school, secondary vocational and technical school education, plus higher education, and adult and television education. Urban residents, farmers and herdsmen now enjoy the right to receive education. According to statistics, by 1991, Tibet had established four modern universities (Tibet University, the Institute for Nationalities, the Agriculture and Animal Husbandry College and the Tibetan Medical College); 15 secondary vocational and technical schools involved in teacher training, agriculture and animal husbandry, public health, Tibetan medicine, finances, sports, art, and post and telecommunications; 63 middle schools and 2,474 primary schools. The total enrollment hit 196,000, with most being Tibetan students. Of the 16,000 faculty members, two-thirds were Tibetan teachers. The buildings of primary and secondary schools and institutes of higher learning covered nearly 1.5 million square meters, and audio-visual teaching had become an important means of instruction. In the last four decades and more in Tibet, 18,000 students graduated from universities and colleges; 510,000 from primary and secondary schools, including more than 40,000 from secondary vocational schools, senior middle schools and secondary technical schools; more than 15,000 cadres were trained in rotation; and nearly 7,000 people received certificates from secondary vocational and college-level self-study programs. A large number of professionals for all undertakings have thus been trained.
The development of education in Tibet has enhanced the cultural level of citizens, creating conditions for the Tibetan people to better exercise their right of regional autonomy as an ethnic minority and attain overall development. However, since the foundations of education in old Tibet were very weak and the population sparsely scattered, illiterates and semi-illiterates still make up a considerable proportion in Tibet's population, although they are now in the minority rather than in the majority, as they were in the past. Further development of education remains a strenuous and pressing task in Tibet.
Tibet has a rich traditional culture which covers language, literature, art, philosophy, religion, medicine and the celestial almanac. The Chinese government has always attached importance to protecting and developing the excellent traditional culture of the Tibetan ethnic group. It has adopted a series of policies and measures to honor, protect and ensure the flourishing of Tibet's traditional culture, enabling the legacy of Tibetan culture to be inherited and developed.
The Tibetan language is the common language for the whole autonomous region. In July 1987, the autonomous regional People's Congress adopted the Regulations on Study, Use and Development of the Tibetan Language in the Tibet Autonomous Region (for trial implementation), which clearly stipulates that both Tibetan and Chinese languages should be used in the Tibet Autonomous Region while first place is given to the Tibetan language. Today, all the resolutions, regulations and rules, the decrees adopted by the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region and all the formal documents and notices issued by the autonomous regional people's government are in both Tibetan and Chinese. Newspapers, radio and television stations also use both languages. Of the books edited and published in the autonomous region, those in the Tibetan language make up 70 percent. Speakers of different languages are treated equally in the recruitment of workers, cadres and students, with priority always given to Tibetan speakers. Tibetan is used in large meetings attended by the masses. All work units, streets, roads and public facilities are marked in both Tibetan and Chinese script. The Tibetan language is the main subject of all schools at different levels.
The Tibetan people's traditional customs and practices have received wide respect. In the cities, towns and agricultural and pastoral areas in Tibet, most Tibetans still retain their traditional clothing, diet and housing. Each year, the Tibetan people celebrate the Tibetan New Year, the Sour Milk Drinking Festival, the Butter Lamp Festival, the Bathing Festival, the Ongkor (Bumper Harvest) Festival and the Damar Festival in their time-honored ways. The government has introduced preferential policies to encourage the production of necessities for minority nationalities.
Cultural relics in Tibet are put under full protection. The Potala Palace, the Jokhang Monastery and some other monasteries and temples have become national or regional key cultural preservation centers. Since the mid-1970s, systematic plateau archeological studies have been carried out and several dozen cultural sites of the Stone Age excavated. All the unearthed cultural relics are carefully kept by the regional cultural relics management department, and these discoveries provide valuable materials for the study of primitive and traditional Tibetan culture.
The traditional cultural heritage of Tibetans has been systematically investigated, collected, collated, published and studied. The tibetan Ancient Books Publishing House has collected more than 200 rare ancient books in Tibetan and collated and published a number of them. The Tibet People's Publishing House has pooled efforts to collate and publish a number of classics and booklets of historical archives. By the end of 1990, more than 1 million copies of 200 ancient Tibetan books had been distributed. Tibetan classics, which only existed in hand-written and engraved forms and were neglected for several hundred years, now, for the first time, have been printed in copies with exquisite binding.
Marked achievements have also been made in the collection and collation of Tibetan folk literature, drama, music and choreography. More than 20 writings and books on Tibetan folk culture have been published. King Gesar, the world's longest epic created by the Tibetan people, existed only in oral memory among the Tibetan people and was performed using dialogue and singing. Today, the retrieval, collation and study of this epic has been included in the state's key social science research projects, and a special institution has been founded to take charge of the project. Up to now, more than 3,000 cassette tapes recording the epic have been made, and 62 volumes in the Tibetan language published with a total circulation exceeding 3 million copies. The 600,000-word History of Chinese Dramas: Tibetan Volume has been compiled, filling in a blank in theoretical writings and monographic studies on drama in Tibetan history. Materials are being garnered on the basis of surveys for the compilation of books about Tibetan dance, folk rhymes, music in Tibetan opera and folk art, instrumental music, folk art history, folk songs, folklore and proverbs.
Tibetology is a comprehensive branch of learning which embraces all areas, including Tibetan history, religion, culture, economics, politics and sociology. More than 50 Tibetan studies institutions have been founded in Tibet and other places, and the China Tibetan Studies Center was inaugurated in 1986 in Beijing. These research institutions have taken up numerous research projects, such as the strategy for socio-economic development in Tibet, a concise history of Tibet, the collation and study of Pattra in Sanskrit, and the study of the origin of Tibetan religions and religious sects. They have also launched nearly 30 journals in the Tibetan, Chinese or English languages, including Tibet Research, Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan Social Development Study, Tibetan Art Study, Snowy Land Culture, China's Tibetan Studies, and China's Tibet. Since the 1980s, with the expansion of international academic exchange concerning the study of Tibet, 130-plus scholars from a dozen of countries and regions and Tibetan scholars residing abroad have visited Tibet, made academic surveys and conducted negotiations on joint scientific research projects. Some Tibetan experts and scholars were invited to go on tours, give lectures and participate in academic meetings abroad.
Tibet's traditional culture and art, which only entertained high officials and noble lords in the past, now serve all Tibetan people, enriching their cultural life. The autonomous region has ten professional art and dance ensembles and Tibetan opera troupes, 20 county-level art troupes and more than 350 amateur performing troupes. There are six multi-purpose people's art centers equipped with modern facilities and 25 county-level cultural centers. Tibet now boasts a contingent of nearly 5,000 professional cultural workers, with Tibetans accounting for 90 percent of the total. They have created a number of literary and artistic works and programs which have a strong national flavor and reflect the features of our age, and some of their works have won international prizes. Over the past decade and more, 14 Tibetan art troupes composed of close to 300 artists were invited to give performances abroad. Cultural activities are very much in evidence during each traditional festival in Tibet. The Sour Milk Drinking Festival has expanded from performances of Tibetan operas to the largest annual art festival featuring all kinds of cultural and artistic activities. TRaditional sports have been held extensively in Tibet too. Since the 1980s, more than ten traditional sports have been tapped and included in formal competitions. Tibetan athletes captured quite a few prizes at the National Sports Meet for Ethnic Groups. During traditional festivals, time-honored games and performances are held in all parts of Tibet. The modern athletic level in Tibet has been enhanced constantly and mountaineering, in particular, has attained internationally known achievements.
While traditional cultural activities are flourishing in Tibet, modern cultural facilities have also made their way there. At present, Tibet has 137 television and TV video relay stations and television transposer stations, 297 ground satellite stations, 26 radio broadcasting, relay and transmitting stations, and 74 wire broadcasting stations at prefectural and county levels. A broadcasting and television network which covers the whole region and combines satellite and wireless transmission with wire broadcasting has initially taken shape in Tibet. The region now has 82 film distribution and projection agencies and 553 film projection teams. Nearly 200 new films are shown each year, and residents in agricultural and pastoral areas enjoy free film shows. Many modern recreational facilities have been built in Tibet to prosper both traditional and modern cultural activities.
Old Tibet, under the feudal serf system, had only three officially operated, small traditional Tibetan medical establishments, having simple and rough medical equipment, and a few private clinics. There were close to 100 practitioners. Even adding folk doctors of Tibetan medicine, the number totalled only about 400, averaging less than 0.4 per 1,000 people. These medical establishments and medical workers chiefly served the nobility and officials. Absolutely no medical treatment was given to the broad masses of serfs and slaves when they fell ill. Deadly infectious diseases such as smallpox and the plague occurred frequently and even ran rampant. According to records, in the 150 years before the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, smallpox raged four times, and the contagion in 1925 caused 7,000 deaths in the Lhasa area alone. Epidemic typhoid fever in 1934 and 1937 took more than 5,000 lives in Lhasa. When some infectious diseases spun out of control, the former Tibetan local government did not take measures to save the afflicted but, on the contrary, drove them into high mountains or deep valleys, whose exits were guarded by troops. This resulted in the death of the expelled sufferers. Historical records show that in old Tibet, the average life span was 36 years, and the growth of the Tibetan population stagnated for a long time.
The primary task facing Tibet in the development of public health care has been to gain control over the most deadly infectious diseases. The Chinese government conscientiously carries out the principle of "taking prevention as the main task," with the result that no case of smallpox has been reported in tibet since the early 1960s. The incidence of various infectious and endemic diseases has gone down by a substantial margin, and some serious diseases that threaten the lives of people have been wiped out or brought under basic control. In order to assure the healthy growth of Tibetan children, a planned immunization program has been widely implemented in tibet since 1986. Over 85 percent of children have been inoculated.
After the Democratic Reform in 1959, the autonomous region gradually established a medical and health network throughout Tibet. In 1991, the region boasted 1,197 medical establishments, 401 times as many as in 1951. There were no hospital beds in 1951 but 5,077 in 1991. Professional medical workers numbered 9,740, or 98 times higher than in 1951. Among them 7,749 were health technicians, with Tibetans accounting for 80 percent of the total. Now, 88 percent of Tibetans are living in rural and pastoral areas, where there were 850 health establishments containing a total of 2,300 beds and 3,700 medical workers in 1991. A further 3,500 local rural doctors and health workers directly serve the masses of farmers and herdsmen. In Tibet, on average, there are 2.3 beds and 2.1 doctors per 1,000 people, figures equal to and above the national average respectively, and also higher than that of middle-income countries.
Traditional Tibetan medical science, comprising Tibetan medicine and pharmacology, has been handed down and developed. The government invested 20 million yuan in building a new inpatient department of the region's Hospital of Traditional Tibetan Medicine, as well as five local hospitals of this kind. In 1991, there were 1,015 Tibetan medicine doctors and pharmacists in the whole region. In order to meet the needs for the development of Tibetan medicine, the autonomous region founded the Tibetan Medical College and the Tibetan Medicine Research Institute, and encouraged and supported famous veteran Tibetan medicine doctors to write scholarly books. A chronology of valuable medical expertise was compiled by a group of aged specialists. The Four-Volume Medical Code, a famous book on Tibetan medical knowledge, was published and distributed. Efforts have also been made in the compiling and publishing of A Complete Collection of Wall Charts of the Four-Volume Medical Code and Medical Science Encyclopedia: Tibetan Medicine, plus dozens of teaching materials and special books about Tibetan medicine, including Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Dietetics, and Newly Compiled Tibetan Medicine. Pharmaceuticals production is developing quickly too. Now, there are three Tibetan medicine factories.
Scientific research institutes of Tibetan medicine have put more efforts into the study of plateau sickness and other diseases which endanger the lives of Tibetan people, and have achieved important research results. Tibetan medical workers are both domestic and international leaders in rescue and the treatment of plateau pneumochysis, mountain coma and chronic plateau sickness.
To train more health workers, the Tibet Institute for Nationalities has opened a medical department. In addition, the Health School for the Tibet Autonomous Region has been established and another two in Xigaze and Qamdo. These schools have trained more than 6,000 high- and middle-ranking health workers. Since 1980, more than 5,000 health workers in the region have received on-the-job training, which has helped raise their professional and administrative levels.
The government provides free medical care for all Tibetans. This, plus considerable improvements in medical and health conditions, has greatly raised the average life span and health level of the Tibetan people. Average life expectancy has risen from 36 years before liberation to 65 years at present. When compared with 1965, the average height and weight of young Tibetans in the Lhasa area increased by 8.8 cm and 5.2 kg respectively.
The government has special policies on birth control in Tibet. Family planning is not practiced for the farmers and herds people who constitute 88 percent of the region's entire population. The government only conducts publicity campaigns to inform them about rational births and ways to have healthy babies. Tibet has a vast expanse of territory, but few land resources which can be developed. In 1991, the average amount of cultivated land per person was only 1.54 mu. As Tibet's population has been increasing at a fast rate, population control is necessary. Since 1984, the regional government has advocated and carried out the policy of two children per couple among Tibetan cadres, workers and the staff of enterprises and residents in cities and towns. However, among the Han cadres, workers and staff members in Tibet, the policy of one child per couple has been advocated and enforced. Only 12 percent of the people in Tibet are covered by the family planning policy. In the process of carrying out family planning, the government always persists in the principle of "mainly publicity, volunteering, and service," and prohibits any form of forced abortion.
Over the past 40 years, the population of Tibet has rapidly mounted. Between 1950 and 1990, there was a net increase of 1.196 million people in Tibet, with the number of Tibetans climbing to more than 2 million, more than double the figure of 1 million in 1950. In 1951, when Tibet was peacefully liberated, there were no accurate population statistics provided by Tibetan local government. When China conducted the first national census in 1953, the Tibetan local government headed by the Dalai Lama reported that there were 1 million people in Tibet. The second national census in 1964 showed that the population in Tibet was 1.251 million, of which 1.209 million were Tibetans, making up 96.63 percent of the total. The third national census in 1982 said there were 1.892 million people in Tibet, of whom 1.786 million were Tibetans, accounting for 94.4 percent. The fourth national census in 1990 showed that there were 2.196 million people in Tibet, of whom 2.096 million, or 95.46 percent, were Tibetans. People of the Han and other non-Tibetan nationalities have always made up around 5 percent of the total population in Tibet. Since 1970, the birth rate and natural population growth have both been above the average national level. Between 1982 and 1990, there was an increase of 309,800 ethnic Tibetans in Tibet, and the rate of natural population increase was 17.34 per thousand, 2.64 perthousand points higher than that of the national level in the same period. For Tibet, it is impossible to reach such relatively high levels in terms of birth rates and the natural growth rates of population in so short a period of time without the abolition of the feudal serf system, and economic growth plus the obvious improvement of people's living standards and medical and health conditions.
On the question of the size of the Tibetan population, the Dalai clique has spread many rumors. The most sensational was that more than 1.2 million people were killed after the peaceful liberation of Tibet. In 1953, the Tibetan local government under the Dalai Lama reported the population stood at 1 million people. If 1.2 million inhabitants had been massacred, it would have been a case of genocide and certainly the population in Tibet could not have increased to the present 2 million.
The Dalai Lama clique has also contended that geographically Tibet extends far beyond the boundaries of today, including areas inhabited by the Tibetans in Sichuan, Qinghai and other places, making a total population of 6 million. This so-called Tibet Major is merely a conspiracy hatched by imperialists in an attempt to carve up China. As a result of long historical changes, ethnic Tibetans have settled not only in Tibet but also in areas in Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces. But these areas were not under the jurisdiction of Tibet in the past, and the former Tibetan local government never administered any Tibetan-inhabited areas beyond Tibet. From the 13th century on, the central governments of the Yuan and Ming dynasties placed Tibet and other areas with Tibetan populations under separate administrations. The Qing Dynasty further defined administrative divisions in Tibetan-inhabited areas. During the period of the Republic of China, Tibetan-inhabited areas beyond Tibet remained under the jurisdiction of the provinces where they were located. These administrative divisions basically remained after the founding of the People's Republic of China. In the Tibetan-inhabited areas of the four provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan, ten Tibetan autonomous prefectures and two Tibetan autonomous counties were set up. The Tibetan population, including Tibetans in Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas of other provinces, fell short of 6 million. When China conducted the first national census in 1953, the overall Tibetan population, including those residing in Tibet, totalled 2.77 million. The 1990 national census gave a count of 4.59 million people. As in Tibet, the numbers of Tibetans in other areas had grown considerably over the period between the two censuses.
Another lie is the claim that a large number of Hans have migrated to Tibet, turning the ethnic Tibetans into a minority. It is very easy to confuse and poison the minds of people who are not aware of the truth. In Tibet, the natural conditions are harsh, the air is oxygen-poor and the climate is bitterly cold. Most of the land consists of mountains, wilderness, and permafrost and snow zones. Customs there are so different from those in the heartland of the country that people from the interior can hardly adapt to them. Tibet is not like the western part of the United States, where large numbers of people moved in for development. The figures from various national censuses have thoroughly exploded the lie that the Han population in Tibet has already surpassed that of the Tibetans.
While vigorously developing Tibetan economy, the people's government attaches great importance to environmental protection in Tibet. Conscientiously carrying out the state's basic policy on environmental protection, the Tibet Autonomous Region perseveres in its strategy of synchronized planning and undertaking of economic, urban, rural and environmental construction. It has implemented the three policies of making preventive measures a priority, assigning responsibility to those who created pollution to clearing it up and intensifying environmental control. The Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the people's government of the autonomous region have published a series of local laws and regulations, as well as administrative rules and systems, covering the protection of environment and natural resources in line with actual local conditions. Examples are the Regulations for the Protection of Forests in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Provisional Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on Administration of Grasslands and the Notice of the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Protection of Aquatic Resources. In the field of wildlife protection alone, there are more than 20 documents on related regulations and systems. In 1975, the autonomous region set up an environmental protection institution to beef up unified supervision and administration over environmental protection work. In 1990, the Environmental Protection Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region was established to take charge of such undertakings in the whole region.
The region has also made considerable headway in improving ecological environment. It has seen the building of over 13,000 major and minor irrigation channels, some 5,200 large and small reservoirs able to hold more than 270 million cubic meters of water, and 18 river embarkment projects, with a total length of about 250 km. For many years, chemical fertilizers and pesticides have been employed on a sound basis. Many measures have been taken to protect grasslands, such as enclosure with fences for livestock breeding and irrigation. Efforts have also been made to develop river banks and plant trees and grass. A rational system of rotation of herds has been enforced, and efforts have been made to prevent the blind reclamation of wasteland at the expense of grassland. By the end of 1990, the total area of fenced grassland had reached 183,000 hectares, while 161,000 hectares were under irrigation. Rats, pests and virulent plants have been kept under control over 1.187 million hectares of grassland. The region's ecological environment has improved steadily.
Work has simultaneously proceeded on tree planting, the safeguarding of forests and the prevention of forest fires. Hillsides have been closed off for forest conservation and the destructive lumbering of forests banned. From the early 1960s to the present, the region has planted 70 million trees and hillsides closed off for forest conservation reached 140,000 hectares a year. Tibet now has 6.32 million hectares of forests, of which 22,000 hectares have been planted by people in the region. Forested areas have been expanding every year, with the increase in standing timber greater than that of felled lumber. The region has set up seven nature reserves, while another five are under construction or in the planning stage. Reserves are to reach 325,300 square km, accounting for 26.5 percent of the region's total area, effectively protecting rare wildlife and plants.
In accordance with local conditions, Tibet has steadfastly pressed ahead with construction of hydropower stations and worked hard to exploit geothermal energy resources and popularize the use of solar and wind energy. The region has since liberation built 424 hydropower stations with a total installed generating capacity of 109,700 kw, and two geothermal power stations. The use of solar energy stoves has been introduced throughout the region, with the figure reaching 17,750. Over 105,000 square meters of solar energy housing have been built and 19,000 square meters of solar energy heating devices have been installed. In addition, the region has introduced some 700 wind-driven generators. The use of these pollution-free energy resources plays an important role in the protection of the environment.
While bolstering the ecological environment, Tibet is strengthening environmental administration. For all construction projects that might affect the environment, the region follows the "environmental impact appraisal" system and the system of designing, building and putting into operation pollution treatment facilities and construction projects at the same time. Some sources of pollution have been curbed. Industrial waste gas disposal has reached 80 percent. Meanwhile, efforts have been made to investigate the origins of industrial pollution in Tibet, investigate and study the background value of soil environment, investigate and study the natural radioactive level in the environment, and investigate wild plant and animal resources. These provide a scientific basis for environmental protection, rational use of natural resources and economic development in Tibet. In the field of urban and rural construction, the region has coupled rational planning and distribution with construction of basic supportive projects. Urban infrastructure facilities have increased in the region. In Lhasa, green areas make up 17.6 percent of the city's total area, with an average per-person share of 12 square meters. In order to have timely information on the quality of the region's environment, the Tibet Autonomous Region has established the Environmental Monitoring Station in Lhasa. Two more are under construction in Xigaze and Qamdo.
According to the monitoring station, environmental conditions are good in Tibet. Generally speaking, there is no pollution of the atmosphere or water. No acid rain has fallen in the region. The annual level of suspended particulate matter in the urban atmosphere averages 340 microgram/cubic meter a day, well within state standards. Apart from slight pollution in several sections of rivers, the water quality of the region's rivers and lakes is good. Radioactive elements are at the normal background level, causing no deleterious pollution. The Dalai Lama clique's accusations that China has stored its nuclear wastes in Tibet are therefore purely fiction.
Of course, some undesirable environmental problems do sometimes arise. For example, the quality of grassland tends to deteriorate, and the habitat of some rare animals is gradually shrinking. The people's government of the Tibet Autonomous Region has taken counter-measures by strengthening administration, publicity and education. Serious penalties are meted out to those who violate the laws and regulations on environmental protection. As a result, the numbers of some animals on the verge of extinction, such as black-necked cranes, takins and tigers, have increased in recent years.
Known as the "Roof of the World," Tibet has quite harsh natural conditions. The region is more than 4,000 metres above sea level on the average. The air there is thin, cold and oxygen deficient and its barometric pressure and oxygen content are less than two-thirds of those at lower altitude plains. The duration of time with a temperature of above ten degrees Centigrade is less than half that in Heilongjiang Province in northernmost China. Only 0.2-0.3 percent of it is arable. Local economic development is slowed down by the plateau climate and geographic conditions. To change this backward situation and promote the common prosperity of all ethnic groups, the central government and the people of the whole country have offered great support to Tibet in terms of labor, materials, finances and technology as well as in policies, demonstrating their special concern.
Over the last four decades, state financial subsidies to the region reached 15.7 billion yuan and investment in key capital construction projects stood at 4.27 billion yuan, for a total investment of close to 20 billion yuan. Apart from state financial subsidies and capital construction investment, the region has received a multitude of special subsidies granted by ministries and commissions under the State Council in accordance with Tibet's need to develop various undertakings. Such special subsidies amounted to 5.9 billion yuan in the period of 1979-86. State financial input in the region has increased by a substantial margin in the last few years and reached 1.7 billion yuan in 1991. At present, the state financial subsidies to the region average 1 billion yuan a year, the nation's top per-capita figure. State investment has brought initial changes to the backward situations in agriculture, livestock breeding, energy, communications, post and telecommunications and other basic industries and infrastructures as well as education and culture, laying a sound material foundation for rapid economic and cultural development in Tibet.
To meet the Tibetan people's needs for production and subsistence, the central government sends large quantities of materials there every year, despite the long distance and poor transport conditions. From 1959 to 1991, a total of 1.388 million tons of grain, 2.815 million tons of refined oil and 4.58 billion yuan worth of manufactured goods, weighing over 10 million tons in total, were hauled in from the hinterland.
To aid economic and cultural construction in Tibet, the central government and other provinces and municipalities have pooled efforts together to build the Sichuan-Tibet, Qinghai-Tibet and other trunk highways that cross mountains 5,000-6,000 metres above sea level, a finished oil transmission pipeline from Golmud to Lhasa, the Yangbajain Geothermal Power Station and other large and medium-sized infrastructure facilities. To speed up construction in the region, the central government in February 1984 organized manpower and materials from nine provinces and municipalities in the interior to aid 43 construction projects in Tibet, the task taking more than one year. These projects, involving energy, communications, building materials, trade, culture, sports, education, public health, tourism and municipal works, covered a construction area of 236,000 square metres, involved a total investment of 480 million yuan and consumed more than 200,000 tons of cement, rolled steel and other building materials.
Tibet is in short supply of scientific and technical personnel. To solve this problem, relevant government departments and other provinces and municipalities have been asked to aid their counterparts in the region. Large numbers of technicians including scientists, engineers, managerial personnel, teachers and medical workers have been encouraged to take their skills to Tibet. For key construction projects, experts, scholars, engineers and technicians have been organized to conduct investigation and study, planning, prospecting, designing and construction. From 1973 to 1991, medical teams composed of more than 3,000 medical workers from a dozen provinces and municipalities were sent to the region to train Tibetan medical workers and prevent and cure diseases for factory workers, farmers and herdsmen. Medical colleges and schools in the hinterland have started training classes to improve the skills of Tibetan medical workers. Thus far, about 70 percent of the Tibetan medical workers have received such training. From 1974 to 1988, a total of 2,969 teachers were sent to Tibet to teach. Many colleges and universities in many provinces and municipalities have trained teachers and managerial personnel for various kinds of schools in the region. Each year a certain number of teachers' college graduates, including some post-graduates, are assigned teaching jobs in Tibet. Since 1985, Tibetan middle schools and Tibetan classes have been established in 24 interior provinces and municipalities to offer education to Tibetan students, who also enjoy special care in study and life. In 1991 some 9,800 Tibetan students were studying in these schools or classes in the hinterland.
All those who go from the hinterland to Tibet experience many difficulties. They have to make a major effort to overcome mountain sickness and extremely different customs and habits in order to adjust to life in Tibet. By responding to the central government's call to aid the Tibetan people, they show they are willing to work in the region and do not hesitate to make personal sacrifices. They go there for a fixed period of time on rotation in accordance with the stipulation of the central government.
The central government has introduced a series of more preferential economic policies and more flexible measures compared to those enjoyed by the interior provinces and municipalities in order to reinvigorate Tibet's economy and speed up economic construction there. Since 1980 agricultural and pastoral areas in Tibet have introduced diversified economic reforms focussing on household production. The policy is for farmers to cultivate land independently and for herdsmen to own the domestic animals they raise and conduct their own management, a policy which will remain unchanged for quite a long period of time. Farm and livestock products are sold mainly through the market. Farmers and herdsmen are exempt from agricultural and livestock taxes; collective and private industrial and commercial enterprises which produce and sell national necessities are exempt from industrial and commercial taxes. Farmers and herdsmen, individually or collectively, need pay no taxes for selling or exchanging their farm produce, livestock products or handicrafts. In opening up, the region implements a more preferential policy than other areas. It can retain all foreign exchange it earns from overseas trade and sell general imported products in the hinterland. Recently, the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region decided to set up foreign economic and technological development zones in accordance with the state policy on opening wider to the outside world; increase the number of open border ports; allow the foreign business people to lease land; and expand border trade with neighboring countries and entrepot trade.
Tibet started to implement the Eighth Five-Year Plan and the Ten-Year Program in 1991. To further accelerate Tibet's economic and cultural construction and attain the target of a comfortable lifestyle for most Tibetans, the central government will continue to offer great support to Tibet. State-invested projects in Tibet have been established and written into a development program. The construction projects include the following:
-- A project started in 1991 with a total investment of 1 billion yuan for the comprehensive development of the drainage area of the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo, Lhasa and Nyang Qu rivers. The project is designed to turn the area into bases for producing commodity grain, non-staple food, light industrial goods, textiles, handicrafts and processed food as well as for popularizing scientific and technological research achievements.
-- A project with an investment of 800 million yuan to build the Yamzhog Yumco Pump-Storage Power Station, one of the state's key energy construction projects during the Eighth Five-Year Plan (1991-95). Upon completion in 1997, the station will help ease the power shortage in Lhasa and the surrounding area.
-- A project to rebuild the Qinghai-Tibet, Sichuan-Tibet, Nagqu-Qamdo and China-Nepal highways with an investment of over 1 billion yuan. The reconstruction of these four trunk highways designed to ensure smooth highway transportation began last year.
-- The expansion of the Gonggar Airport in Lhasa. The runway which was completed in September 1991 can be used by Boeing 747s and other jumbo passenger aircraft.
-- The construction of the Lhasa Post and Telecommunications Center, that entails the addition of 11,000-channel program-controlled telephone exchanges and 54 ground satellite stations in 47 counties, and other facilities.
The realities in Tibet fully show that the Tibetan people, who have shaken off the yoke of feudal serfdom, now enjoy extensive human rights which they have never been able to enjoy before. But their human rights are not yet complete because of Tibet's backward economy and culture and its harsh geographic conditions. Continuous and sustained efforts should be made to improve the human rights situation. The Chinese government and people are trying their best to accomplish this. However, the human rights the Tibetan people enjoy today are poles apart from those under feudal serfdom. The Dalai clique and international anti-China forces, who flaunt the banner of "champions of human rights," do not denounce the dark, savage and cruel feudal serfdom at all, under which the Tibetan people were deprived of all human rights by the serf-owners. But they continue to tell lies even after lies they told previously have been exploded, alleging that the Tibetan people, who have become masters of the country, have lost their human rights. Their purpose is to mislead the public and create confusion in an attempt to realize their dream of dis-membering China, seizing Tibet and finally subverting socialist China. Here lies the essence of the issue of so-called human rights in Tibet.
No plot to split China will ever succeed. The close relations between the Tibetan people and other ethnic groups in China have lasted for several thousand years. And Tibet has been unified with other provinces and autonomous regions to make up a unitary country for seven centuries. In such a long period of time, Tibet's relations with other provinces and autonomous regions have become closer and closer, and there has never been separation. This is by no means fortuitous. The fundamental reason is that unity or separation has a decisive bearing on the prospering or decline of the Tibetan, the Han and all the other ethnic groups of China. Unity spells common prosperity, and separation would mean peril to both parties. The long-lasting unification of Tibet with other parts of China is the inevitable outcome of a long history. So the Han people and other ethnic groups absolutely will not accept separation of Tibet from China, nor will the Tibetan people themselves.
Information Office of the State Council of The People's Republic of China
September 1992, Beijing, China