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China Issues White Paper on Tibet's Modernization

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/11/08; November 8, 2001.]

(Xinhua) (Xinhua is the official propaganda press agency of the People's Republic of China)

Beijing, November 8 (XINHUA) -- The Information Office of the State Council issued here Thursday a white paper entitled "Tibet's March Toward Modernization", which reviews the modernization drive in Tibet over the past 50 years.

The white paper is expected to help the international community enhance the comprehensive understanding of the history and reality of Tibet.

The 16,000-word white paper is composed of three parts: the Rapid Social Development in Tibet, Tibet's Modernization Achievements, the Historical Inevitability of Tibet's Modernization.

Employing lots of facts and the latest statistics, the white paper shows that Tibet has kept marching forward along the road to modernization and made significant achievements that have attracted worldwide attention, under the leadership of the Central Government and with the aid from the rest of the country and the unremitting efforts of the people of all ethnic groups in the region.

The white paper says modernization has been the fundamental issue in the social development of Tibet in modern times. The feudal serfdom under theocracy, which had lasted for several hundred years in Tibet, stifled the development of the social productive forces of Tibet, seriously hindered social progress, and relegated Tibet to the state of extreme poverty, backwardness, isolation and decline, to the point of verging on total collapse.

The white paper says that even in mid-20th century, Tibet was still extremely isolated and backward, almost without a trace of modern industry, commerce, science and technology, education, culture and health care. Primitive farming methods were still in practice. The grain yield was only four to 10 times the seeds sown.

The rigid hierarchy and savage political oppression, the fetters of religion brought by theocracy, and the imperialists' invasion had led to enormous deaths from hunger and cold, poverty and diseases among the serfs, which made over 95 percent of the whole population in Tibet 50 years ago. Crisis lurked on every side in Tibet.

On May 23, 1951 the "Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet", known as the "17-Article Agreement", was signed by the Central People's Government and the local government of Tibet, marking the realization of the peaceful liberation of Tibet and opening the way for Tibet to march toward modernization.

The white paper says in conforming to the interests of the Tibetan people, the Central People's Government not only worked actively to bring about Tibet's peaceful liberation, but also adopted key policies and measures for Tibet's Democratic Reform, regional autonomy, large-scale modernization, reform and opening- up. All this has contributed to changing the lot of Tibet and propelling Tibetan society in seven-league boots.

The modernization drive in Tibet has entered a new stage of rapid development with the strategic decision made by the Central People's Government to accord special attention to Tibet and get aid for Tibet from all the other parts of the country.

The economy in Tibet has progressed significantly over the past 50 years. Tibet is fast on its way toward a modern market economy after having thoroughly abandoned the former closed, natural economy.

The region's GDP reached 11.746 billion yuan (1.42 billion U.S. dollars) in 2000, twice as much as in 1995 and over 30 times as much as in the pre-peaceful liberation period.

Modern industry, having grown from nothing, has gradually become an important pillar of the fast economic development in Tibet. The modern industrial system with Tibetan characteristics has cultivated some nationally famous brand names.

In 2000, the region's total grain output reached 962,200 tons, and the total amount of livestock numbered 22.66 million head. Self-sufficiency in grains and edible oils had been basically realized. The distribution of meat and milk per capita had surpassed that of the national average.

People from all ethnic groups in the region have basically shaken off poverty and had enough to eat and wear. Some are even living a better-off life.

The white paper says that the reform and opening-up have shortened the distance between Tibet and the rest of the country as well as other parts of the world. In 2000, Tibet scored 130 million U.S. dollars of imports and exports trade volume.

The unique natural views and cultural points of interest in Tibet have attracted numerous tourists from both at home and abroad. In 2000, Tibet received some 600,000 tourists and earned a direct income of 780 million yuan (94 million U.S. dollars).

The Central Government and the local government of Tibet have been keen on the coordination between environment and economic development to better protect the fragile ecological environment in Tibet.

They planned to invest 22.7 billion yuan (2.7 billion U.S. dollars) and initiate a number of key projects for ecological protection by the mid-21st century to further protect and improve its ecological environment.

The white paper says Tibet has made rapid progress in education, science and technology, and medical and health care. The enrollment rate of school-age children increased to 85.8 percent in 2000 from less than two percent in the past.

By 2000, Tibet has set up 25 scientific research institutes, engaging in studies on history, economics, linguistics and religion, as well as Tibetan medicine and pharmacology.

The number of medical and health organizations in the region has reached 1,237. The cooperative medical service has covered 80 percent of the Tibetan rural areas. The average life expectancy of Tibetan people has risen from 35.5 years in the 1950s to the present 67 years. Tibet's population had increased to 2.5983 million by 2000, or an increase of more than 160 percent over the figure for the early 1950s.

The white paper says the State has invested a huge amount of fund, gold and silver in protecting and maintaining the key historical heritage in Tibet. Some fine folk art works have been collected and published for the sake of protection and development.

The Tibetan people's freedom of religious belief, traditional customs and habits, and their freedom to study, use and develop their own language have been respected and protected.

The white paper says great progress has been made in standardization of information technology in the Tibetan language. The Tibetan code is the first ethnic minority written language in China to have reached the international standards.

Radio, TV, telephone and the Internet have become the main methods for the Tibetan people to learn or communicate with the rest of the country and the world.

The white paper says people's political status has been constantly raised, and their participation in political affairs is becoming more and more extensive.

Currently, of all the officials in Tibet, 79.4 percent are Tibetans and people from other ethnic minorities. Of the deputies to the people's congress at the regional, county and township levels, those from the Tibetan ethnic group and other ethnic minorities make up 82.4 percent, 92.62 percent and 99 percent, respectively.

The white paper notes that Tibet's march toward modernization conforms to the world historical trend and the law of development of human society, and embodies the internal demands of Tibet's social development and the fundamental interests and wishes of the Tibetan people.

Tibet's modernization makes an inseparable part of China's modernization drive, and the inevitable demand from the people of all ethnic groups for realizing common prosperity and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The white paper says as Tibet's modernization drive is unfolding in the unique land of Tibet, it must proceed from Tibet' s actual conditions and take the road with Tibet's local characteristics.

It notes in the end that the modernization drive in Tibet has been pushing forward consistently during the protracted struggle against the Dalai Lama clique and international hostile forces.

[Description of Source: Beijing Xinhua in English -- China's official news service for English-language audiences (New China News Agency)]

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