SCIO briefing on economic and social development of Tibet autonomous region

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Wu Yingjie, secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC)

Qizhala, deputy secretary of the CPC Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee and chairman of the People's Government of Tibet Autonomous Region


Chen Wenjun, head of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO


May 22, 2021

Chen Wenjun:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Tibet's peaceful liberation, we have invited Mr. Wu Yingjie, secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and Mr. Qizhala, deputy secretary of the CPC Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee and chairman of the Tibet autonomous region to today's press conference. They will brief you about the economic and social development of the autonomous region and answer your questions.

Next, I will give the floor to Mr. Wu.

Wu Yingjie:

Thank you, Mr. Chen. Friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. It's a great pleasure to meet you. Thank you for your long-term interest in and support for Tibet. Also, thank you for attending this press conference on the weekend.

The CPC Central Committee has always attached great importance to the development of Tibet and shown great care for the people of all ethnic groups in the region. In the past 70 years, the CPC peacefully liberated Tibet, carried out democratic reform, established the socialist system, pressed ahead with reform and opening-up, and implemented the Party's policies on ethnic and religious affairs. The CPC Central Committee has held seven central symposiums on Tibet work, formulating and adopting a series of major principles, policies and measures. The central government has set aside a total of 1.63 trillion yuan, and partner provinces and municipalities have provided 69.3 billion yuan to Tibet in recent years to support the region's development. Among this, more than 590 billion yuan was channeled into the construction of major projects including the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, Gongkar Airport in Lhasa, and the Zam Hydropower Station. These efforts have propelled Tibet's economic and social development, created miracles of progress, and profoundly transformed the region. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has set the direction and made overall plans for the development of Tibet. He delivered related speeches and gave important instructions on various occasions, presided over two central symposiums on Tibet work, proposed guidelines for governing Tibet in the new era, made dedicated action plans and drew up an overall strategic blueprint. With General Secretary Xi's support, Tibet has resolved many long-standing hard problems, achieved many notable successes that were unimaginable in the past, and made all-round progress in all endeavors.

The past 70 years has witnessed solid progress in enhancing socialist democracy. The people of Tibet broke free from the fetters of invading imperialism for good, abolished Tibet's feudal theocratic serfdom, and liberated millions of serfs, bringing historic changes to Tibetan society. In the new era, we have been actively developing socialist democracy, promoting comprehensive law-based governance of Tibet, and consolidating and developing the patriotic united front. Among deputies to the National People's Congress and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from Tibet, more than 75% and 90%, respectively, are from Tibetan and other ethnic minority groups. We have formulated 44 local regulations in recent five years. People of all ethnic groups in Tibet enjoy extensive democratic rights, participate in the management of state and social affairs in accordance with the law, and love and support General Secretary Xi Jinping and the CPC Central Committee from the bottom of their heart.

The past 70 years has witnessed an increasingly stable social environment. We have firmly adhered to the central authorities' policies on the fight against the 14th Dalai Lama and his supporters, intensified the anti-separatism battle, and continued to expose the "reactionary nature" of the 14th Dalai group, vigorously safeguarding national security and social stability. In the new era, we have adopted a holistic approach to national security and increased our awareness of potential dangers. With focus on safeguarding national unity and promoting ethnic solidarity, we have taken preventive measures, cracked down on all kinds of separatist, infiltration and sabotage activities, and comprehensively enhanced our ability and the quality of law-based governance. The people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have become more active in maintaining stability. The social environment has maintained long-term stability on every front, with people's satisfaction regarding security above 99%.

The past 70 years has witnessed new approaches being adopted for work related to ethnic and religious affairs. We have fully implemented the Party's policies on ethnic and religious affairs, heightened public awareness of ethnic unity and progress, and overseen religious affairs in accordance with the law. Socialist ethnic relations featuring equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony have been continuously enhanced. Freedom of religious belief and normal religious activities have been protected in accordance with the law. In the new era, we have taken "forging a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation" as our main task. We have formulated regulations and plans on building model areas for ethnic unity and progress, carried out a publicity and education campaign on the history of the relationship between Tibet and the rest of the motherland, and vigorously promoted communication and exchanges between different ethnic groups. The "five identities" (meaning that the people of all ethnic groups recognize the great motherland, the Chinese nation, Chinese culture, the CPC, and socialism with Chinese characteristics) have been strengthened among people of all ethnic groups and the notion that all ethnic groups in China, including the Han and minority groups, are interdependent has been fully adopted. We have been developing religions in the Chinese context and putting more emphasis on guidance. No tolerance is shown in eliminating the negative influence of the 14th Dalai Lama's use of religion. We have been guiding believers to take a rational attitude towards religions and diminish their negative influence. Policies and regulations on the management of the reincarnation of living Buddhas have become deeply rooted in people's hearts. Governance in the field of religion has gained understanding and support from believers. More and more believers are changing from "pursuing rebirth" to "living this life well." Religions are increasingly adapting themselves to the socialist society.

The past 70 years has witnessed rapid and sound economic and social development. Tibet's GDP surged from 129 million yuan in 1951 to 190.27 billion yuan in 2020, a 322.5-fold increase in comparable terms. In the new era, we have been focusing on improving people's lives and strengthening unity in socioeconomic development. Based on the new development stage, we have been following the new development philosophy, integrating into the new development paradigm, and properly handling the "13 relationships." The regional economy is transiting from high-speed growth to high-quality development. Efforts to construct major projects such as the Sichuan-Tibet Railway are picking up pace. All the counties, townships and villages have been connected to the road network, with the length totaling 118,800 km. Tibet now has 140 domestic and international air routes in operation, reaching 66 cities. The Qinghai-Tibet, Sichuan-Tibet and Ngari prefecture-central Tibet power grid interconnection projects have been completed, with the main power grid covering all counties and major townships, and the total installed power capacity reaching 4.23 million kilowatts. A total of 99% of administrative villages have access to 4G network and optical cable broadband. The construction of all well-off border villages has been completed. We are vigorously developing businesses that leverage local strengths. Our annual grain yield has exceeded 1 million metric tons. In the past, livestock was available for slaughter during a certain season, but now is available year-round. The tourism industry is booming.

The past 70 years have witnessed an overall improvement in living standards of the people. We have always stood in the position of the people and made great efforts to improve their lives. The disposable income per capita of rural residents reached 14,598 yuan last year, an increase of more than 416 times than in 1959 when it was 35 yuan. In the new era, we have insisted on people-centered development, focusing our efforts on people's livelihoods. In the past, the question was if the people were living well, and now the question is if the people are living a better life. All ethnic groups have felt the growing sense of gain, happiness and security. All the 628,000 impoverished people and all the 74 poverty-stricken counties and districts have been lifted out of poverty. We have deepened the implementation of the 15-year publicly-funded compulsory education. Last year, the completion rate for compulsory education has reached 95.03%, and new entrants to the region's workforce have an average of 13.1 years of education. The employment rate of higher-education graduates reached 99%. We have built a social security system that covers both urban and rural residents. The coverage rate of old age insurance surpassed 95%. Groups of medical professionals made a lot of effort to aid Tibet. There are health centers in every township and clinics in every village. Endemic diseases, such as echinococcosis, Kashin-Beck disease, congenital heart disease, and cataracts, have been eradicated or brought under effective prevention and control. Major results have been gained in the prevention and control of the Covid-19 pandemic. The average life expectancy has risen to 71.1 years. Public cultural undertakings have seen continued development, villages/communities have organized art groups to offer performances and towns/townships have built comprehensive cultural centers. The coverage rates of radio and television have both surpassed 99%.

Over the past 70 years, we have seen remarkable results in eco-environmental protection. When planning economic and social development, we have always planned for the protection and improvement of the ecology and environment at the same time. We proactively advanced projects regarding the protection of natural forests, reclaiming forests from farmlands, and reclaiming grasslands from grazing lands. The undertaking of environment protection continued to make progress and the ecology and environment kept on improving. In the new era, we cemented the belief that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, as are the scenic sights of ice and snow. We formulated the Regulations on Developing Ecological Highlands in the Tibet Autonomous Region and we expedited the implementation of plans to protect and improve the environmental safety barriers in Tibet. We coordinated the systematic treatment of mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands and sand lands. We pushed for the construction of various nature reserves and gave no access to enterprises and projects with high pollution, high energy consumption and high water consumption. We stopped approving new prospecting rights and mining rights. Great efforts were made to plant new trees. In terms of eco-environment improvement, we used to focus on protection, but now our practices have become more proactive. The environment has been improved. The sky is bluer, mountains are greener, and waters are clearer. A total of 1,079 villages and 105,000 households have ended their history of being deforested. The forestation rate reached 12.31%. The water quality of key rivers and lakes reached Class III or above, and the rate of good air quality days in cities at prefecture level and above reached 99.4%. Tibet has become one of the places with the best ecological environments in the world.

Over the past 70 years, the Party has continued to reinforce itself. We continued to advance new great projects to strengthen the Party. The number of primary-level Party organizations increased from 57 in 1952 to 21,900. The number of Party members grew from 877 to more than 410,000, with ethnic minorities taking up 81.36% of the total. Meanwhile, the number of cadres rose from 1,791 to 204,700. In the new era, we implemented the general requirements and the organizing principles of reinforcing the Party. We have firmly established the socialist ideals and beliefs with Chinese characteristics and the ideas of life-long learning, and have continue to research further reforms and innovations. We thoroughly comprehended and implemented Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. The great thought has been engraved in the hearts of all ethnic groups. We strictly implemented the requirements for a good cadre in the new era and requirements for cadres working in regions inhabited by ethnic groups to be particularly sober-minded when dealing with major issues of principle, to safeguard ethnic solidarity with particularly firm actions, and to cherish cordial love for all ethnic groups. We comprehensively enhanced the leadership and cadres at all levels. We vigorously promoted the time-tested "Old Tibetan spirit," the "two roads" spirit that has been shaped in the construction and maintenance of the Sichuan-Tibet Road and Qinghai-Tibet Road, and the spirit of Kong Fansen, a model of the leading cadres who died on duty when working in Tibet. Party organizations and Party members and cadres at all levels have become a powerful political force that has led all ethnic groups to manage risks, conquered difficulties and challenges, and served the people with all their hearts. We have done more regarding the CPC history learning and education, and have done more than 100,000 practical things for the public. We made great efforts to consolidate the primary-level Party organizations which were weak and lax, prioritizing the improvement of organizations and emphasizing their political functions. The Party branch committees and the villagers' committees are now completely comprised of Party members. In agricultural and pastoral areas, the primary-level Party organizations have been acting as anti-separatism strongholds, striving to maintain ethnic unity, and leading the people to achieve prosperity. These primary-level Party organizations follow the Party's guidance and know how to maintain solidarity whiling boosting growth. They have gained the capability to bring prosperity while maintaining stability, and can function effectively and sensibly when facing critical events. The Party's governing status in Tibet has been further cemented. We have deepened the efforts to strengthen the working style of the Party, build a clean and honest administration, and fight against corruption. We have created a sound and healthy political ecosystem. 

Over the past 70 years, we have gotten through difficulties and gained fruitful results. Since the peaceful liberation of Tibet, we have attained many successes and glorious achievements, which fully display the brilliance and greatness of the CPC, and shows the unparalleled advantage of the socialism with Chinese characteristics, the strong vitality of the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and the huge strength of the Party's guidelines for governing Tibet when practiced. The cadres and masses of all ethnic groups in Tibet have felt for themselves the care and love of the CPC Central Committee, the warmth of the motherland as a big family, and the profound feelings of friendship among the Chinese people. Previous practices have fully demonstrated that without the CPC, there would not be the People's Republic of China, let alone the new socialist Tibet. Tibet's prosperous present and even brighter future requires unswerving insistence on the leadership of the CPC, the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and the system of regional ethnic autonomy.

The glory of the Party shines across the border region. People who live there look up to the Party. We must unite more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core; insist on the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as the guidance; and fully implement the Party's guidelines for governing Tibet in the new era. We must better maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core, and stay in alignment with them. We must cement the confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; and uphold General Secretary Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole, and uphold the Party Central Committee's authority and its centralized, unified leadership. We must stay unified and work hard to press ahead. We must resolutely push forward with the four major tasks: comprehensive rural revitalization; seizing the initiative on food security; enhancing the top design and advancing the rural revitalization strategy with more powerful measures and greater strength; and cementing the overall leadership of the Party towards efforts concerning agriculture, rural areas, and farmers. We must make all efforts to ensure national security and long-term peace and stability, the continued improvement of people's living standards, a sound eco-environment, and solidified border defense and border security. We will devote more efforts to building a modern socialist country and realizing the Chinese Dream for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, in accordance with the arrangements of the seventh Central Symposium on Tibet Work.

This is all for now. Mr. Qizhala and I will answer your questions. 

Chen Wenjun:

Thank you, Mr. Wu. The floor is now open for questions. Please identify your news outlets before asking questions.

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