|New Progress in Human Rights in the Tibet Autonomous Region|
I. Ethnic Regional Autonomy System and the People's Political Rights
II. Economic Development and the People's Rights to Existence and Development
III. The People Enjoy the Rights to Education,Culture and Health Protection
IV. The Right to Freedom of Religious Belief
Tibet is a Tibetan autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. Since it was officially incorporated into the domain of China's Yuan Dynasty in the mid-13th century, Tibet has been under the jurisdiction of China's Central Government as an inalienable part of Chinese territory. Throughout history the diligent and honest Tibetan people -- a member of the big multi-ethnic family of China -- has made important contributions to the development of the splendid Chinese civilization as well as to the unity and unification of the motherland.
For long periods before 1959, however, Tibet had been a society of feudal serfdom characterized by the merging of politics and religion and the dictatorship of the clergy and nobility. The serfs and slaves, who accounted for over 95 percent of the total population in Tibet, had no personal freedom and were deprived of their basic human rights. The Democratic Reform carried out in Tibet in 1959 ended the history of a feudal serf system which merged religion with politics, and gave the more than one million serfs and slaves in Tibet, accounting for more than 95 percent of the total population, the right to be their own masters. Following the Democratic Reform, Tibet entered a new era of social development and progress in human rights.
In September 1992 the Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China issued a white paper titled Tibet -- Its Ownership and Human Rights Situation. Drawing on a rich store of facts, the white paper introduced and expounded on the historical relations between Tibet and the big family of the motherland in a comprehensive way, as well as the progress in human rights in modern Tibet.
In recent years, thanks to the care and support of the Central Government, the unstinted assistance from other parts of China and the efforts of the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, the Region's economic and social development has been remarkably speeded up, thus further promoting the development of the cause of human rights there. The development of the cause of human rights in the Tibet Autonomous Region is an important component of the new progress being made in human rights in China as a whole.
To understand and judge the human rights situation in Tibet, it is necessary to ascertain the relevant facts. Accordingly, we hereby present the facts about the new progress made in human rights in the Tibet Autonomous Region since 1992.
Tibet is an area where the Tibetans live in compact communities, with people of the Tibetan ethnic group making up 95 percent of the total population of 2.44 million in the autonomous region, and the people of the Han and other ethnic groups accounting for only five percent. According to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the state practices the ethnic regional autonomy system in Tibet, which has been established as the Tibet Autonomous Region, and safeguards, according to law, the political rights of the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet to participate in administration of state and local affairs on an equal basis, especially the Tibetan people's autonomous right to independently administer local and ethnic affairs. Practicing ethnic regional autonomy in areas where people of ethnic minorities live in compact communities is a major political system of China and a basic policy of the Chinese Government for solving problems relating to ethnic affairs.
In April 1956, the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region was set up in accordance with the Central Government's decision. The Tibet Autonomous Region was formally founded in 1965, with Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme as the first chairman of the Region. As the organs of self-government, the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress and the Regional People's Government exercise the power of autonomy according to law. In accordance with the Chinese Constitution and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy, all areas entitled to ethnic regional autonomy enjoy the extensive rights of autonomy, involving legislation, the use of local spoken and written languages, the administration of personnel, the economy, finance, education and culture, the management and development of natural resources, and other aspects.
The Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress and its Standing Committee -- the local organs of state power in Tibet -- fully exercise the power of autonomy bestowed by the Constitution and law, and have actively formulated laws and regulations appropriate to local ethnic and regional characteristics. Between 1965 and 1992 more than 60 local laws and regulations were worked out, such as the Rules of Procedure of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Regulations on the Study, Use and Development of the Tibetan Language in the Tibet Autonomous Region (for trial implementation). In recent years the Region has formulated 23 local laws and regulations, made 21 legal decisions, and cleared up or revised 23 laws and regulations involving politics, the economy, culture, education, environmental protection and other fields, including the Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on Environmental Protection, the Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Work of Town and Township People's Congresses and the Regulations on Enhancing the Examination and Supervision of the Implementation of the Laws and Regulations. In addition, rules for the implementation of 14 national laws and regulations conforming to the local features of Tibet have been drawn up. The legislative and administrative organs of the Tibet Autonomous Region have designated the Tibetan New Year, the Sholton and other traditional festivals of the Tibetan ethnic group as the Region's holidays, in addition to the official national holidays. In accordance with the special natural and geographical conditions of Tibet, the autonomous region has decreed a work week of no more than 35 hours, five hours less than the official national work week for workers and staff. According to statistics, the number of laws and regulations worked out since 1992 by the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region and its Standing Committee to safeguard the interests of the Tibetan people in light of the actual conditions in Tibet exceeds the total formulated during the 12 years preceding 1992.
The chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress and the chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region are both citizens of the Tibetan ethnic group. Both the Chinese Constitution and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy specify that the chairmen or vice-chairmen of the standing committees of the people's congresses of ethnic autonomous areas shall be citizens of the ethnic group or groups exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned. The chairman of an autonomous region, the governor of an autonomous prefecture and the head of an autonomous county shall be a citizen of the ethnic group exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned. Since the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region all the four chairmen of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region and five chairmen of the Region have been Tibetan citizens. According to statistics, members of the Tibetan and other ethnic minorities now account for 71.4 percent of the chairman and vice-chairmen of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region; for 80 percent of the members of the Standing Committee of the Autonomous Regional People's Congress; and for 77.8 percent of the chairman and vice-chairmen of the Tibet Autonomous Region. After the election of members to succeeding governments at the township (town), county, prefectural (city) and autonomous regional levels in 1993, members of the Tibetan and other ethnic minorities accounted for 93.2 percent of the component members of the organs of state power at these four levels, respectively for 99.8 percent and 98.6 percent of the township (town) and county heads elected, and respectively 96 percent and 89 percent of the presidents of the people's courts and the procurators of the people's procuratorates at the autonomous regional, prefectural (city) and county levels. Further progress has been made in the training and selection of cadres of Tibetan and other ethnic minorities in Tibet since 1992. According to 1996 statistics the number of cadres belonging to the Tibetan and other ethnic minorities in Tibet had increased by 18.22 percent over the 1992 figure, making up 73.88 percent of the total and showing an increase of 4.48 percentage points over the figure for 1992.
Guaranteeing the study and use of the Tibetan language is an important aspect of safeguarding the Tibetan people's right to autonomy and exercising their right to participate in the administration of state and local affairs. The Chinese Constitution specifies that all ethnic groups have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages. China's Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy stipulates that in performing their functions, the organs of self-government of every ethnic autonomous area, in accordance with the regulations on the exercise of autonomy in those areas, employ the spoken and written languages or languages in common use in the locality. Accordingly, the Regulations on the Study, Use and Development of the Tibetan Language (for trial implementation) adopted by the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress clearly specifies that both Tibetan and Chinese should be used in the Tibet Autonomous Region, with precedence given to the Tibetan language. The Tibetan language is the common language for the whole autonomous region. The resolutions, laws, regulations and decrees adopted by the people's congresses, and official documents and proclamations issued by governments at all levels in the Region are in both Tibetan and Chinese. In court cases involving Tibetans, the Tibetan language must be used in hearing cases, and legal documents must be written in the Tibetan language. Newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations also use both Tibetan and Chinese languages. All signs and marks of government institutions, streets, roads and public facilities are in both Tibetan and Chinese scripts. Tibetan academic, cultural and art workers have the right to write and publish their academic or artistic works in their own language.
The implementation of the ethnic regional autonomy system has further guaranteed the political rights of the Tibetan people, which is in marked contrast to the situation in old Tibet.
Before the Democratic Reform of 1959 Tibet had long been a society languishing under a system of feudal serfdom which intertwined politics with religion, a society which was even darker than the European society of the Middle Ages. The serfs and slaves, making up 95 percent of the total population of Tibet, were completely deprived of personal freedom and political rights. The serf owners considered serfs and slaves as their private property, so they could trade and transfer them, present them as gifts, make them mortgages for debts and exchange them. It was not until 1959 that the 13-Article Code and 16-Article Code, which had been practiced for several hundred years in old Tibet, were abolished, by which codes the Tibetan people were divided, in explicit terms, into three classes and nine ranks and put on an unequal footing in legal status. The codes specified that the lives of people of the highest rank of the upper class, such as a prince, were literally worth their weight in gold, whereas the lives of people of the lowest rank of the lower class, such as women, butchers, hunters and craftsmen, were worth no more than the price of a straw rope. Th serf owners safeguarded the feudal serfdom with savage punishments; they would frequently punish serfs and slaves by gouging out their eyes, cutting off their ears, arms or legs, drowning them or inflicting other terrible penalties.
Since the Democratic Reform abolished the feudal serf system, the Tibetan people, like the people of all other ethnic groups throughout the country, have become the masters of their state and society, and won the political rights enjoyed by all citizens as stipulated in the Chinese Constitution and law.
All citizens in Tibet who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote and stand for election, regardless of ethnic group, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status or length of residence. They elect their own deputies and exercise the power to administer state and local affairs through the people's congresses elected by them. According to statistics, in 1993 when the succeeding township, county, prefectural (city) and autonomous regional people's congresses were elected, Tibet had 1,311,085 voters, making up 98.6 percent of all citizens at or above 18 years of age, 91.6 percent of whom participated in the elections. In some places 100 percent of the voters took part in the elections. Meanwhile, the Chinese Constitution and Electoral Law clearly specify that the National People's Congress, the highest organ of state power, should include an appropriate number of ethnic minority deputies. The Electoral Law contains special regulations to promote the election of deputies from among ethnic minorities. For example, it stipulates that where the total population of an ethnic minority in an area where that ethnic minority lives in concentrated communities exceeds 30 percent of the total local population, the number of people represented by each deputy of that ethnic minority shall be equal to the number of people represented by each of the other deputies to the local people's congress; and that where the total population of an ethnic minority in such an area is less than 15 percent of the total local population, the number of people represented by each deputy of that ethnic minority may appropriately be less than the number of people represented by each of the other deputies to the local people's congress. The ethnic minorities, who make up 8 percent of the total population in China, now account for well over 14 percent of the total number of deputies to the National People's Congress. At present, Tibet has 20 deputies to the Ninth National People's Congress, 80 percent of whom are from the Tibetan or other ethnic minorities. Though the Moinba, Lhoba and other ethnic minorities in Tibet have small populations, each of them has its own deputies to the National People's Congress as well as to the people's congresses at all levels in Tibet. The Living Buddha Phabala Geleg Namgyal is vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the Eighth National People's Congress.
Personages of all strata and all circles in Tibet also participate in the administration and discussion of state affairs, and exercise their democratic rights through attending the political consultative conferences at all levels. Now a number of personages of ethnic minorities origin and religious figures from Tibet are members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) or its Standing Committee, with Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme serving as vice-chairman of the CPPCC National Committee. Since its founding in 1959, the CPPCC Tibetan Committee has recruited large numbers of people of the Tibetan and other ethnic minorities, as well as religious figures. Now several hundred ethnic-minority people and religious figures are members of the CPPCC Tibet Committee. Even some people who were nobles of the old Tibetan government, such as Lhalu Tsewang Dorje and Domed Konchok Palmo, are currently vice-chairmen of the Tibet Autonomous Region's Political Consultative Conference. The legal codes of old Tibet stipulated: "Women are not to be granted the right to discuss state affairs." This situation is now no longer to be found in new Tibet. In 1996 female deputies to the Tibet Autonomous Region People's Congress made up 20 percent of the total. Now Tibet has 573 women cadres at or above the county level, and some Tibetan female judges, procurators, police officers and lawyers for the first time in Tibetan history.
Most staff members of the judiciary of the Tibet Autonomous Region are Tibetans or members of local ethnic minorities. Strictly in accordance with the Constitution and laws, the judicial departments of the Tibet Autonomous Region protect the basic rights and freedoms, and other legal rights and interests of the citizens of all ethnic groups in Tibet. They also protect public property and the lawful private property of the citizens, punish those law-breakers who endanger society, and maintain social order according to law. Both the crime and imprisonment rates of the Tibet Autonomous Region are lower than the nation's average. The legal rights of criminals are protected by law, and those who belong to ethnic minorities or religious sects are not discriminated against, but due consideration is given to their lifestyles and customs. The government guarantees the provision of food, clothing, shelter and articles of daily use for prison inmates. Each prison in Tibet has separate dining facilities and diets for inmates of different ethnic groups and provides for them zanba (roasted highland barley flour), buttered tea, sweet tea, etc. every month. Each prison has a clinic, and the number of prison doctors is higher than the nation's average. Criminals enjoy rest days, holidays and traditional ethnic festivals, in accordance with the state's unified regulations. Prisoners may see visitors every month, may win a reduction of penalty or be released on parole, and may be given various awards according to law.
Speeding up Tibet's economic construction, continuously improving the life of the Tibetan people, and ensuring that they fully enjoy the rights to existence and development are the Central Government's primary goals for its work in Tibet. They are also the most important tasks of governments at all levels in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Outstanding achievements have been made in this regard through the unstinted efforts of the Central Government and the governments at all levels in the Region.
Since 1992 the Tibetan economy has increased rapidly. In 1997 the GDP of Tibet amounted to about 7.35 billion yuan-worth, an increase of 96.6 percent compared to 1991 at constant prices or an average annual increase of 11.9 percent. Since 1987 Tibet has reaped bumper harvests for 10 years in succession. The total grain output was 820,000 tons in 1997, the highest output in Tibetan history and an increase of 41.4 percent compared to the 580,000 tons in 1991. The output of meat was 119,000 tons in 1997, an increase of 25.5 percent compared to 1991. Now the people of the Tibet Autonomous Region are working hard to attain the goal of getting rid of poverty throughout the Region and achieving comfortable lives for most of the people before the year 2000.
Since 1992 the building of the parts of the infrastructure closely related to people's everyday life and production, such as communications, energy and telecommunications, and the development of construction, building materials, foodstuffs, traditional handicrafts, textile and other light industries have been quickened. The Gonggar Airport in Lhasa has been extended, and the Bamda Airport in Qamdo has been rebuilt. Now there are scheduled flights to other cities in China from airports in Tibet every day and some weekly international flights. A comprehensive network of communications and transportation consisting of air routes and highways has been basically completed in Tibet. The volume of goods transported via highways in the Region increased 15.6 times in 1996 compared to 1965 and the number of highway passengers has increased by 28.9 times in the same period. The average number of passengers transported by airplanes is 100,000 each year. So transportation conditions have been greatly improved, in striking contrast to the old days when the region was very hard to reach and goods had to be carried in on the backs of animals or people. Satellite telecommunications stations have been built in seven prefectures or cities in Tibet, and program-controlled telephone systems are in use in 51 counties. Satellite transmission and program-controlled telephones are being used in about 98 percent of the counties in Tibet, which is now connected with the international and domestic long-distance telephone automatic exchange networks. Municipal construction has been speeded up in major cities and towns, such as Lhasa, Xigaze, Nagqu, Qamdo, Zetang and Shiquanhe. Since the 1980s more than 300,000 sq m of old residential houses have been rebuilt in Lhasa, and 5,226 households have moved to new dwellings. All this has improved the living environment and quality of life of both urban and rural residents.
Economic development in Tibet began on an exceedingly primitive and backward foundation. Its natural environment is unfavorable for economic development because of its 4,000-odd-meter altitude, severe cold weather and thin air. In addition, under the rule of the feudal serfdom in old Tibet the economy in the region was extremely backward and the living standards of the people there were low. In view of all this, the Central Government has always attached special importance to the development of Tibet by providing generous assistance in manpower, materials, financial resources and technologies. In addition, preferential policies have been adopted in line with the Region's actual conditions. No levies have been imposed on the peasants and herdsmen in Tibet since 1980 and there is no compulsory state purchase of grain there. The income that Tibetan peasants and herdsmen earn is entirely their own. In recent years the Central Government has allocated upwards of 1.2 billion yuan each year to Tibet as a financial subsidy, and other favorable measures have been adopted, such as lightening its financial burdens, preferential investment, investment in skill training and an aid-the-poor program. From the early 1950s to 1997 the Central Government allocated more than 40 billion yuan for Tibet, and from 1959 to 1996 allotted 6.74 million tons of materials. Among the latter were 1.1 million tons of commercial materials, 1.3 million tons of grain and 1.48 million tons of oil.
The state has also given large-scale additional assistance to key and special projects in Tibet in different economic and social development periods. In 1984 some 43 projects were built for Tibet by nine provinces and municipalities mobilized and directed by the Central Government, and in 1994 the Central Government decided to build gratis another 62 projects for Tibet within three or four years, also with the cooperation of other provinces and municipalities of the country, involving agriculture and water conservancy, energy, communications and telecommunications, industry, and social welfare and municipal engineering. Now almost all the projects have been completed and put into use. The actual total investment was 3.66 billion yuan, much more than the planned investment of 2.38 billion yuan. The comprehensive project for the development of the middle valleys of the Yarlungzangbo, Lhasa and Nyangqu rivers, in which the Central Government invested a fund to the tune of one billion yuan, was put into practice in 1991, and since then both the grain yield and the net per-capita income of the peasants and herdsmen in the development area have increased by a wide margin. The Yamzhoyum Lake pumped-storage power station, a project with state investments running to 2.014 billion yuan, was completed and put into operation in 1997. In recent years another 151 projects have been built or are being built in Tibet by 14 other provinces and municipalities, with a total investment of 490 million yuan. The completion of these projects will push the economic development of Tibet and the living standards of both its urban and rural residents a still bigger step forward.
The development of the economy has tangibly improved the lives of all people in Tibet. In 1996 the average annual per capita income that urban residents used for living expenses was 5,030 yuan, 2.4 times that of 1991, showing an average annual increase of 19 percent; the average per capita net income of peasants and herdsmen was 975 yuan, an increase of 48.3 percent compared to 1991 and an average annual increase of 8.2 percent. In 1997, income of the above two types was 5,130 yuan and 1,040 yuan respectively. By the end of 1997 the bank savings deposits of both urban and rural people in Tibet were 3.045 billion yuan, while in 1991 they had been only 510 million yuan. In 1996 the average amount of grain owned by each Tibetan was 372 kg, an increase of 28 percent over 1991. Though the population in 1996 was 2.5 times that in the early 1950s, the amount of grain per capita in Tibet was three times that in the early 1950s. In 1996, the average per capita consumption of meat in Tibet was 48.6 kilograms, an increase of 17.2 percent compared to 1991. In 1996 the average per capita consumption of vegetables by urban dwellers in Tibet had increased by 26 percent and that of edible oil by 14.5 percent over the 1991 figures. Other increases in that year were 2.1 times for eggs and 4.2 times for sweets and cakes. In tandem with the development of the economy, the household property owned by both urban and rural people in Tibet has increased steadily. The peasant and herdsman households own large amounts of means of production, and the average fixed assets for production purpose are worth more than 8,000 yuan per household. There are 9 motor vehicles, 6 big or small tractors, 3 threshing machines and 12 horse-carts per 100 households. The numbers of electrical household appliances and other durable goods are increasing each year in urban families; in 1996 there were 88 color TV sets, 6 black and white TV sets, 42 washing machines, 50 refrigerators, 46 cameras, 9 motorcycles and 222 bicycles per 100 urban families -- all these figures being huge increases compared to 1991. According to statistics of the old local government of Tibet, about 90 percent of the Tibetan population had no residential houses of their own in 1950, but now, except for people living in a small number of pastoral areas, all families have their own permanent houses. From 1990 to 1995 the living space of rural and urban people increased, respectively, from 18.9 sq m to 20 sq m and from 11 sq m to 14 sq m. According to surveys of the middle valleys of the Yarlungzangbo, Lhasa and Nyangqu rivers, some of the peasant families have enough surplus grain to last them for up to three years. Moreover, in some townships 90 percent of the peasant families have built new houses.
Some people in remote areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region still live fairly impoverished lives. The governments at all levels in the Region, according to the instructions and requirements of the Central Government, are implementing a help-the-poor plan to actively assist the local people to raise the level of production so as to get rid of poverty and become well-off. In 1996 alone, the autonomous region earmarked 114 million yuan for the help-the-poor drive. In September 1997, when blizzards rarely seen in local histories hit some of the areas, particularly northern Tibet, causing severe hardship to the peasants and herdsmen in productive work and daily lives, the State Council held a special meeting to discuss how to aid the disaster victims there. By January 1998 the Central Government had allocated a total of 42 million yuan in relief funds and transported a large amount of materials to the disaster areas. In addition, the State Council sent officials to the disaster areas to express sympathy and solicitude for the people, inspect the disaster areas and help solve difficulties. The governments at all levels in the Tibet Autonomous Region devoted a large amount of manpower, materials and capital to the disaster relief work. All this has gone a long way toward relieving the difficulties brought by the blizzards to the peasants and herdsmen in productive work and daily lives.
To ensure a favorable living environment for the people of all ethnic groups and improve their quality of life, the Tibet Autonomous Region strictly implements the state's laws and regulations concerning environmental protection. Since 1992 the autonomous region has formulated and promulgated more than 20 local laws and regulations, and administrative rules on eco-environmental protection, including the Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on Environmental Protection. In 1990 the Region's first modern environmental monitoring station was set up in Lhasa, which was followed by the Xigaze Environmental Monitoring Station set up in 1993. Other monitoring stations are being constructed so as to gradually form a region-wide environmental monitoring network. Monitoring results show low discharge of the "three industrial wastes" (waste gas, waste water and industrial residue) in Tibet: The smoke and dust elimination rate of industrial waste gas has reached 88 percent, and more than 50 percent of industrial waste water has been effectively treated. The quality of the water in the Region's major rivers is up to the state's first-class standard for the environmental quality of surface water. Most lakes in Tibet are still in a pristine state, with the quality of water within the state's standards. In general, the quality of underground water is good. So far not a single environmental pollution accident has occurred in Tibet, and no acid rain has fallen in the Region, let alone any man-made radiation pollution. Moreover, the monitoring findings achieved by the environmental protection departments over the years have proved that the natural radiation level in Tibet is within the standards specified by the state's radiation protection regulations.
The fact that the Tibetan people fully enjoy the rights to existence and development presents a sharp contrast to the miserable conditions in old Tibet where poverty and backwardness prevailed and the people's right to existence was not guaranteed. The feudal serf system that mingled politics with religion in old Tibet seriously hindered the development of the social productive forces. Therefore, for a long time its economy was in a primitive and backward state. Wooden plows were used for agricultural production and yaks were used for threshing. In some places the slash-and-burn method of farming was common. In 1952 the average grain yield per mu (one ha equals 15 mu) was 80 kg and there were only 125 kg of grain per person. In the old days Tibet had almost no industry in the modern sense of the word, and in fact in 1950 it only had one bunthouse of a mint and one 125 kwh hydropower station that generated power only off and on. At that time there were only 120 workers in the whole of Tibet. Even so, more than 95 percent of the social wealth was concentrated in the hands of the three major categories of feudal lords -- government officials, nobles and senior monks, who accounted for less than five percent of the population of Tibet, and the common people, who accounted for 95 percent of the population were extremely poor. There was a saying in old Tibet: "Slaves can only take their shadows away with them and leave only their footprints behind." The broad masses of slaves and serfs did not have any personal freedom, and even their right to life was not guaranteed. Before the Democratic Reform in 1959 the population of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, was just over 20,000, of whom some 1,000 households were impoverished or begged their living in the streets. It often happened that homeless people died on the roadside because of hunger and cold. But this appalling situation will never appear again in Tibet.
Since the beginning of the 1990s educational, cultural and health work in Tibet has been further improved, and this has further promoted the people's right to education, culture and health protection.
The Chinese Government has adopted many preferential policies to promote education in Tibet. Boarding schools have been introduced in rural and pastoral areas, where Tibetan primary and middle school students enjoy free food, clothing and accommodation. Stipend and scholarship systems have been put in place step by step in primary and middle schools above the town level. The principle of "giving priority to people of local ethnic groups" has been adopted by all schools while recruiting students in Tibet, and a flexible enrollment method adopted in dealing with examinees of Tibetan and other ethnic minorities origin, whereby "the pass marks for admission are appropriately lowered and students are chosen on the basis of their test results."
Currently, a fairly complete modern education system is being operated in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and education is being spread to wider areas in the Region. According to 1997 statistics, 4,251 regular and village-run primary schools had been established in Tibet, with a total enrollment of 300,453 students. In 1997, 78.2 percent of school-age children were in school, a 32.6 percentage point increase over 1991. There are 90 secondary schools in Tibet, with 17,155 more students enrolled than in 1991. There are also four institutions of higher learning and 16 special secondary schools in Tibet. The illiteracy rate among the young and middle-aged has dropped by 41 percentage points as compared with the figure before the peaceful liberation of Tibet.
From 1991 to 1997 a total of 580,000 sq m of new schools were built in Tibet, including 27 secondary schools, 278 regular township primary schools and 1,359 village-run primary schools, and a total of over 300,000 sq m of old school buildings renovated. In recent years the government has been investing more and more in education in Tibet. In 1997 such investment accounted for 18 percent equally of the budgeted expenditure and budgeted capital construction investment. These facts are in strong contrast to the situation in Tibet before peaceful liberation, when only a small number of monk officials and children of the nobility had the privilege of studying and less than two percent of the school-age children went to school; education was denied to the masses of serfs and slaves.
Since the mid-1980s, to make it easier for secondary school students from Tibet to study in inland China the Central Government has appropriated special funds to set up Tibetan junior middle-school classes in some of the provinces and municipalities in the hinterland and one Tibetan middle school each in the cities of Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu. Transportation, food and board, clothing and medical care expenses of the Tibetan students in those schools are covered by the government. The Central Government has allocated a special capital construction fund totalling 73 million yuan and relevant provinces and municipalities have appropriated necessary funds amounting to well over 100 million yuan for running those Tibetan classes and schools in the hinterland. In addition, the Central Government has appropriated an annual six million yuan and relevant provinces and municipalities have set aside a special fund from their budgets to cover the study and living expenses of the Tibetan students in inland regions. From 1985 to 1997 a total of 18,000 Tibetan students had studied in all these Tibetan classes and schools, of whom more than 5,000 have graduated from special secondary schools, colleges and universities and returned to Tibet to take part in the development of the Region. At present, there are 13,000 Tibetan students studying in more than 100 schools in 26 inland provinces and municipalities.
The essence of traditional Tibetan culture is a component part of Chinese national culture and the government has always attached great importance to protecting and developing it and helping it flourish.
With its distinctive ethnic characteristics Tibetological research, which plays an important role in inheriting and developing the essence of traditional Tibetan culture, has received attention and support from the state. Currently, there are over 50 Tibetan studies institutes all over the country, with over 2,000 people engaged in such research and related auxiliary work. The state has set up the Chinese Center for Tibetan Studies in the nation's capital Beijing, and there are a dozen Tibetan studies institutes in Tibet itself, which have completed over 100 significant research projects. In recent years Tibetan studies institutes in China have held more than 60 seminars, single- or multi-disciplinary, on Tibetan history, language, religion, ethnology, philosophy, literature, art, education, calendar and traditional medicine. More than 300 significant projects have been completed and more than 400 books on Tibetan studies have been published or are about to be published. Books such as A General History of Tibet and Mirror of Tibetan History, written by scholars belonging to the Tibetan ethnic group, have received praise from home and abroad.
The Chinese Government attaches great importance to learning, using and developing the Tibetan language in the Tibet Autonomous Region and has taken concrete measures to guarantee the freedom of the Tibetan people to use and develop both the spoken and written Tibetan language, which is a main course of study at all schools in Tibet as well as in special Tibetan classes and schools in other parts of the country. Tibetan students are required to read and write the Tibetan language proficiently upon graduation from middle schools. Tibet has finished the editing and translation of 500 kinds of primary and middle school teaching materials for the compulsory education stage. The editing, translating into Tibetan and publishing of a catalogue of technical materials has started, as has the work on the collection and collation of technical materials in the Tibetan language. In order to promote the normalization, standardization and modernization of information processing in Tibetan, the Region has been working on drawing up international standards for Tibetan character coding using information technology since 1994, which has received strong support from related departments of the state. The research project was approved at the conference of international standards verification for multi-language coding held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1996. This has laid a good foundation for Tibetan-language access to modern information processing and network exchange. In 1995 a committee for the standardization of Tibetan terminology was set up to standardize the Tibetan language and normalize social terms.
Great importance has been continuously attached to traditional Tibetan medicine and pharmacology. There are 14 Tibetan medicine institutions in the Region, and Tibetan medicine is available in over 60 hospitals at the county level. At present, Tibetan medicine establishments at all levels throughout Tibet give over 500,000 out-patient consultations annually. A total of 100,000 kg in over 350 varieties of finished Tibetan pharmaceuticals is produced each year. Some one dozen valuable Tibetan herbs have won national gold or silver medals or prizes at international conferences on traditional medicine.
The work to systematically investigate, collect, record, collate, study, compile and publish the traditional cultural heritage of Tibet on a large scale is continuing apace. With over 800,000 words and some 300 pictures, the Chinese Drama: Tibetan Volume was published in December, 1993. The 1.37-million-word Collections of Chinese Folk Songs: Tibetan Volume was published in 1995. A 10-volume collection of Tibetan folk and religious arts is to be published one volume at a time. The popular "Life of King Gesar," the oral epic of the Tibetan people handed down for generations by ballad singers, has been included in the Region's key research projects, with a special institute founded to take charge of collecting more than 5,000 cassettes and several hundred video tapes dealing with the epic. In addition, over 40 million words have been collated, and more than 1,000 research papers and over 30 books on the "Life of King Gesar" have been published. This long-scattered oral literature is becoming a systematic, monumental literary work for the first time. Many Tibetan scholars and people in Tibetan religious circles have acclaimed it as "realizing the ardent wish of the Tibetan people of all generations." The Tibetan Ancient Books Publishing House was set up in the Region with state funds to take charge of collecting, editing and publishing Tibetan ancient books. A large number of Tibetan ancient books, inscribed wooden slips and inscriptions on bronzes and stone tablets -- including the only existing copy of the Dewu's History of Buddhism (about the history of the Tibetan people), Selected Tibetan Laws and Regulations of All Periods, Selected Books and Records on Tibetan Handicrafts, Selected Works on Medicine, and Selected Tibetan Historical Relics, as well as others, have been put under state protection.
Beginning in the early 1990s, the general survey of cultural relics in the Tibet Autonomous Region is almost finished, with cultural relics found in 1,768 places. Large numbers of rare cultural relics have been put under full protection. Since the 1960s the State Council has put 18 key historical sites in Tibet under state protection and determined 67 key historical sites under regional protection. The famous Potala Palace was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1994. The Tibet Autonomous Region Archives is one of the best establishments for keeping local archives in China. The Tibetan Museum, funded by the state to the tune of more than 90 million yuan and with a total floor space of 22,500 sq m, was opened in October 1997.
The people of the Tibet Autonomous Region have full rights to create and enjoy culture. There are 35 multi-purpose people's art and cultural centers and more than 380 rural cultural centers and clubs. A film projection and releasing network covers both urban and rural areas, including 650 local units, giving free film shows to people in agricultural and pastoral areas. In 1996 a total of 25 films in over 500 copies were dubbed in Tibetan. Since the beginning of the 1990s a total of more than 630 films in upwards of 8,500 copies have been dubbed in Tibetan. Meanwhile, Tibet has four book and audio-visual publishing houses, among them the Tibetan People's Publishing House has published 76.94 million copies of books of 6,589 titles. There are 23 Tibetan-language newspapers and magazines in public circulation. By 1996 Tibet had two radio stations, two TV stations, 35 radio broadcasting, relaying and transmitting stations, 240 television transponder stations and over 700 ground satellite receiving stations. The Tibet Autonomous Region Library, set up at a cost of nearly 100 million yuan, was opened in June 1996. It has 590,000 books, including more than 100,000 well-collated and well-preserved Tibetan ancient books.
The Tibetan people enjoy a cultural life which is becoming more and more prosperous and full of Tibetan characteristics. Now Tibet boasts a contingent of more than 10,000 literary and art workers, with Tibetans as the mainstay, 10 professional art and dance ensembles, 15 small professional performance teams, and over 160 amateur art ensembles and Tibetan opera troupes. People in rural areas can often enjoy free performances given by these professional troupes. In addition, there are another 11 special folk art education and study institutes and literature and art organizations. In 1996 professional Tibetan literature and art works and performances won one international prize and 10 national prizes. During major traditional Tibetan festivals and celebrations, such as the Tibetan New Year, the Sholton Festival, the Great Butter Festival and the Wangkor Festival, varied and colorful folk song and dance performances can be seen all over Tibet. Since the early 1990s more than 30 Tibetan song and dance troupes, art ensembles and academic delegations have visited, given performances, engaged in academic exchanges, and held exhibitions on Tibetan historical relics, books, arts, costume and handicrafts in more than 30 countries and regions, including the United States, Germany, France, England, Italy and Austria.
The Central Government and Tibetan governments at all levels are greatly concerned about the health of the Tibetan people. After many years of effort, a basic medical and public health network now covers the whole of the Tibet Autonomous Region. By the end of 1997 Tibet had 1,324 medical and health establishments, 127 more than in 1991; 6,246 hospital beds, 1,169 beds more than in 1991, averaging some 2.5 beds per 1,000 people; 10,929 medical and health personnel, 1,189 more than in 1991; 1.84 doctors and 0.7 nurse per 1,000 people; and 4,402 rural medical and health personnel, a 24.46 percent increase. Old Tibet, under the feudal serfdom, had only three officially operated, small traditional Tibetan medical establishments, with only crude medical equipment, and a few private clinics, employing fewer than 100 medical practitioners. Even including folk doctors of traditional Tibetan medicine, the number totalled only about 400.
In Tibet a preferential medical policy is being carried out. Medical treatment is free in farming and pastoral areas, and is financed jointly by personal medical insurance and the state in cities and towns. From 1992 to 1997 the Central Government and governments at different levels in Tibet disbursed 964.61 million yuan in expenditures for public medical services.
Much attention has also been devoted to the medical and health care of women and children in Tibet. By the end of 1996 a total of 34 maternity and child care centers and eight baby-friendly hospitals had been set up. In addition, 108 hospitals at and above the county level now have departments of gynecology and obstetrics, and 110 key townships have maternity and child care departments which have monitored the development of more than 250,000 children and given general surveys and treatments of common and frequently-occurring diseases among them. Since 1986 about 85 percent of the children in Tibet have received BCG vaccine inoculations or drugs and inoculations against poliomyelitis, pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus and measles. Now 51.25 percent of children in the Region below the age of seven benefit from the local health care system specially for children. Besides, modern delivery methods are available for 50.8 percent of child-bearing women in Tibet, and the rate reaches 100 percent in Lhasa. In the Region's counties where children's health projects have been carried out, the infant mortality rate has decreased from 91.8 per thousand in 1989 to 55.21 per thousand now.
The sanitation and health conditions of today's Tibet and those of the old Tibet cannot be mentioned in the same breath. Smallpox was eradicated early in the 1960s, and some other dangerous infectious and endemic diseases have also been effectively controlled or wiped out. In 1996 the overall incidence of and the mortality resulting from 14 infectious diseases, such as typhoid fever, hepatitis, epidemic encephalitis and influenza, dropped by 45.52 and 67.16 percent, respectively, compared with the 1991 figures. By 1995 poliomyelitis had been totally eliminated. The government of the Tibet Autonomous Region is determined to keep in step with the other areas of China and stamp out diseases caused by iodine deficiency by the year 2000. In the old Tibet deadly infectious diseases such as smallpox and the plague were endemic. It is recorded that during the 150 years before Tibet was peacefully liberated there were four pandemic outbreaks of smallpox, one of which, in 1925, killed 7,000 people in the Lhasa area alone. Outbreaks of typhoid fever in 1934 and 1937 carried off a total of some 5,000 people in Lhasa.
The steady improvement of health care and living standards has raised the average life expectancy of Tibetans from 36 years in the old Tibet to the present 65 years. At the same time, the population of Tibet has increased rapidly and the protracted stagnation of population growth in the old days has changed completely. According to a thoroughgoing census carried out in Tibet during the period 1734-1736 by the Central Government of the Qing Dynasty, the population at that time was 941,200. About two hundred years later, in 1953, the local government of Tibet declared its population to be one million. That is to say, the population of Tibet was almost at a standstill for some two hundred years, only slightly rising by 58,000 people. But in the 40 years from 1953 to 1993, after Tibet was peacefully liberated, the population grew from one million to well over 2.3 million, of which the population of Tibetans increased by 1.16 million, or a more than two-fold increase in 40 years. By the end of 1996 the population of Tibet had reached 2.44 million, 95 percent of whom were Tibetans. This lays bare the lie that "The population of Tibet is decreasing," refutes the bluster about "Tibetans suffering from genocide" emanating from the Dalai Lama and some Western sources, and illuminates, from one aspect, the human rights situations in the new and old Tibet.
The Chinese Government respects and protects its citizens' right to freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law. The Chinese Constitution stipulates that freedom of religious belief is one of the fundamental rights of citizens. Specific provisions on the protection of citizens' right to freedom of religious belief are also given in the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy, the Criminal Law, the General Rules of the Civil Law, the Education Law, the Labor Law and the Electoral Law Governing the People's Congresses. These laws are strictly observed in Tibet. At present, there are 1,787 sites for Tibetan Buddhist activities in the Region, and there are 46,380 Buddhist monks and nuns living in monasteries. The Tibetan Autonomous Region and the seven prefectures or cities under its jurisdiction all have their own Buddhist associations, and the autonomous regional Buddhist association has its own journal and establishment for printing Tibetan-language scriptures.
Since the peaceful liberation of Tibet the Chinese Government has accorded consistent respect and protection to the Tibetan people's right to freedom of religious belief. In 1951 the Central Government and the local government of Tibet, headed by the Dalai Lama, signed the 17-article Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, which explicitly stipulated that "In Tibet a policy ensuring the people freedom of religious belief will be carried out, the religious beliefs, customs and habits of the Tibetan people will be respected, and the Lamaist monasteries will be properly protected. The Central Government will allow no change in the revenues of monasteries." In 1959, the Democratic Reform started in Tibet. The feudal privileges of the three major categories of feudal lords, including senior monks, as well as the system of exploitation, were abolished, and religion was separated from government. At the same time, the Central Government reaffirmed its stand for "respecting the freedom of religious belief and the customs and habits of the Tibetan people," and that the monasteries should be managed independently and in a democratic way by people of religious persuasion. In addition, the Central Government and the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have ranked some famous religious sites, such as the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, and the Tashilhunpo, Drepung, Sakya and Sera monasteries, among the key historical sites under state or regional protection. Since the early 1980s the state has allocated special funds as well as gold and silver every year for the maintenance, restoration and protection of monasteries in Tibet, to the sum of over 300 million yuan-worth.
The state and the autonomous region have financed the maintenance and restoration of a number of famous monasteries, including the Jokhang, Palkor, Tselayungdrung, Mindrol, Samye (built in the eighth century), Tashilhunpo, Drepung, Sera and Ganden (the latter four being the four main monasteries of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism), the Jampa Ling in Qamdo, the Redreng, the Sakya Monastery of the Sakya Sect, the mTshur-phu and Karma-gdan-sa monasteries of the Karma Kagyu Sect, the Drigung Thil Monastery of the Drigung Sect, the Meru and Rala Yungdrung Ling monasteries of the Bon religion, and the Shalu Monastery of the Shalu Sect. The state allocated a special fund of more than 55 million yuan for the five-odd-year renovation of the Potala Palace involving a total floor space of 33,900 sq m. Another special fund of 6.7 million yuan, together with 111 kg of gold and over 2,000 kg of silver and a large amount of gems, has been provided to finance the restoration of the funerary stupas and sacrificial halls of the fifth to the ninth Panchen Lamas. In addition, the state has allocated 66.2 million yuan and 650 kg of gold for the construction of the funerary stupa and sacrificial hall of the 10th Panchen Lama. In 1994 an additional appropriation of 20 million yuan was made to further renovate the Ganden Monastery.
Much importance has always been attached in Tibet to collecting, editing, publishing and studying ancient religious books and records. Religious books edited and published in the 1990s include the Tibetan-language Chinese Tripitaka -- Tanjur (collated edition), A Tibetan-Chinese General Catalogue of the Tibetan Tripitaka, A Commentary on Tshad-ma sde-bdun, Five Treatises by the Family of Mercy, Annotations on Pramanavarttika Karika -- the Solemn Snowland and the Collected Works of Mani. More than 1,490 copies of the Tanjur of the Tripitaka, and a large number of pamphlets on Tibetan Buddhist practices, biographies of famous monks and treatises on Tibetan Buddhism have been printed to meet the needs of the various monsteries and the Buddhist monks, nuns and lay believers. Treatises on Buddhism written and published by religious research institutions, eminent monks and scholars include Collation and Studies of the Pattra Sutra, Compilation of the Sanskrit Pattra Sutra Extant in Lhasa, Studies of the Origin and Development of Religions and Religious Sects in Tibet, The Reincarnation System of Living Buddhas, History of Buddhism by Guta, Records of the Monasteries of the Tibetan Bon Religion, Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries in China and The Fresco Art of Tibet's Buddhist Monasteries.
A total of 3,270 monks in Tibet have studied the Buddhist classics in classes run by monasteries, and more than 50 Living Buddhas, dGe-bshes (Buddhist doctors of divinity) and members of the democratic management bodies of Tibetan temples and monasteries have, in the past few years, taken advanced refresher courses at the China Senior Buddhist Institute of Tibetan Language in Beijing, half of whom have graduated.
The state holds in great esteem the system of reincarnation of Living Buddhas, which is characteristic of Tibetan Buddhism and an important succession method of the leadership of Tibetan Buddhism, and has profound respect for the religious practices and historical conventions of Tibet's main religion. In 1992 the Religious Affairs Bureau of the State Council approved the succession of the 17th Karmapa Living Buddha, in accordance with Tibet's religious practices. In 1995, a great event in the Buddhist world came to pass when the rite of drawing lots from a golden urn was carried out, and the boy who in Buddhist belief was the reincarnation of the deceased 10th Panchen Lama was identified, confirmed, given the title, enthroned and ordained as the 11th Panchen Lama in accordance with the religious practices and historical conventions and with the approval of the State Council.
Government departments at all levels treat all religions and religious sects, as well as all people, whether religious believers or not, in Tibet, equally and without any discrimination. They respect and protect all religious activities in accordance with the law. Religious and non-religious people, and the different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, in harmonious coexistence, also have mutual respect for each other. The internal affairs of temples and monasteries are independently handled by the management bodies formed through democratic elections. Buddhist monks and nuns, on their own initiative, study and debate the scriptures, attend lectures given by eminent monks, perform Abhiseka (consecration by pouring water on the head) and ordainment, disseminate Esoteric doctrines, perform Buddhist ceremonies, chant scriptures in the presence of believers, release the souls of the dead and pray for blessings by touching the heads. Religious people have the freedom to make pilgrimages to temples and monasteries, and holy mountains and lakes, including circumambulation around holy mountains and spinning prayer wheels. They are also free to offer sacrifices, give food or alms to Buddhist monks and nuns, burn incense and chant scriptures. Prayer banners, cairns of stones with scripture texts painted or carved on them and religious people devoutly prostrating themselves on the ground, spinning prayer wheels or on pilgrimages can be seen everywhere in Tibet; and prayer niches and shrines to Buddha can be found in the houses of almost all religious people. It is estimated that more than one million religious believers go to Jokhang Temple in Lhasa to pay homage and burn incense to Buddha each year.
A host of facts show clearly that human rights in Tibet are making unceasing progress. The Central Government and the local governments at all levels in the Tibet Autonomous Region have made great efforts to safeguard and promote the progress of human rights in Tibet. The situation as regards human rights in old Tibet bears no comparison with the situation in Tibet today. The fact that human rights in Tibet have improved is beyond all dispute. All people, Chinese and foreign, who have been to Tibet and are acquainted with Tibet's history will draw such a fair conclusion. The Dalai Lama vilifies the present human rights situation in Tibet. But, ironically, under his rule in old Tibet human rights were wantonly trampled on in wide areas -- a crime stemming from the dark, savage and cruel system of merging politics with religion and the feudal serfdom. Making no mention whatsoever of the situation where trampling the people's basic human rights was commonplace in old Tibet, the exiled Dalai Lama has tried by every means to cover it up and vilify and attack the development and progress in new Tibet. He also fabricates sensational lies to befuddle world opinion. One of the fundamental commandments of Buddhism forbids the spreading of falsehoods. The Dalai Lama's wanton fabrication of lies and his violation and trampling of this commandment serve only to expose him in all his true colors: He is waving the banner of religion to conduct activities aimed at splitting the motherland.
People of all ethnic groups in Tibet are constructing the new Tibet with one heart and one mind. But since Tibet's economic and social development, which started at a very low level, is hampered by unfavorable natural conditions, such as its exceptional elevation, frigid weather and lack of oxygen, Tibet remains economically and socially underdeveloped. As a result, the human rights enjoyed by the Tibetan people have yet to be further improved. But the Central Government and Tibet's local governments at all levels will continue to make painstaking efforts to promote Tibet's economic and social development, consistently improve the people's lives and further promote the progress of human rights in Tibet.
Information Office of the State Council Of the People's Republic of China
February 1998, Beijing