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Serfdom a distant past despite Dalai's ambition
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I was lucky to make my first tour of the Tibet autonomous region last year and witness its scenic landscape with my own eyes. My deepest impression was that snow-clad Tibet is not a mysterious and remote land as the outside world holds. I sensed a simple, serene and happy life among ordinary residents in the autonomous region as well as their strong aspirations for a brighter future.

Tibet has been part of China's territory since ancient times. In the early Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the Han Chinese and Tibetan people began to set up intimate political, economic and cultural contacts.

The increasing number of intermarriages forged among royal families between Han and Tibetan groups laid a solid foundation for the establishment of a unified multi-ethnic nation.

In the mid-13th century, Tibet formally became a local administrative region under the jurisdiction of the Chinese central government of the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1370), and has since been under the rule of China's central authorities, although the country has undergone several dynastic transitions.

The vocabulary of "Tibet independence" never appeared in Tibet's local government documents prior to the 20th century.

Available facts show that Britain served as the original architect of Tibet's independence conspiracy. After the Opium War, British imperialism began to shift its focus to China's Tibet given its growing demand for a larger sphere of influence in Central Asia.

Tibet was thus regarded as a pivotal region in helping meet ambitions for a greater sphere of influence.

In the wake of its two armed invasions of Tibet in 1888 and 1904, both of which failed, Britain resorted to cultivating a pro-British regime and then mapped out steps to split the region from China.

The deliberately plotted Simla Conference in India in October 1913-July 1914, which aimed to pursue "Tibet independence", fully unveiled the then British government's conspiracy to completely control Tibet and even to annex part of neighboring Sichuan and other provinces.

Its attempt and activities toward this purpose have never ceased since.

The 14th Dalai Lama once threw weight behind the "one China" stance. After the signing of the 17-Article Agreement between the central government and the local authority of Tibet upon its peaceful liberation on May 23, 1951, the Dalai Lama expressed his staunch support for the document.

In 1954, he took part in the session of the first National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing and was elected vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, the highest position undertaken by the head of local government in the country's top legislature.

History shows no country afforded Tibet diplomatic recognition as an "independent state".

In a statement on October 29 last year, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband explicitly recognized Tibet as part of China. He also said his country's Tibet policy in the early 20th century mainly derived from geopolitical considerations at that time.

It is known that the old Tibet had suffered for a thousand years of feudal serfdom, in which local administrative officials, aristocrats and upper-class monastery lamas, about 5 percent of the population, enjoyed unchallenged privileges while 95 percent of serfs and slaves enjoyed no freedom, land and other means of production.

Under its politico-religious system, serfs and slaves lived an oppressed life in which they could be leased, sold, and mortgaged as their owners' personal property.

Previously suppressed serfs were awarded their freedom and independence following the ancient system's abolition in 1959.

The remarkable developments Tibet has achieved over the past half century are self-evident to anyone without any political biases.

Statistics show that the region's gross domestic product (GDP) reached an annual average 12 percent growth rate for seven consecutive years after 2000, and net per capita income for farmers and herdsmen maintained 10 percent growth for five consecutive years.

Tibet's so-called government-in-exile promulgated its first "constitution" in 1963, stipulating the region should become an "independent state" with politico-religious rule.

For many years, activities have been conducted toward this purpose.

The Dalai Lama clique has long claimed that the movement of non-Tibetan people into Tibet has hampered Tibetan culture.

This is a ridiculous accusation, given that Chinese people have the right to freely move and inhabit their country's territory.

It is known that the inheritance of a culture and its further development are not based on self-exile from other cultures.

Instead, an increasing interchange among multiple cultures will create a favorable environment for the development of a native culture.

The Chinese government has long made its stance crystal clear that the door for talks is open to the Dalai Lama provided he returns to recognizing Tibet as part of China and renounces violence.

Since 2002, the central government has held seven meetings with private representatives of the Dalai Lama clique. However the independence-preoccupied clique has never shown its sincerity on this issue.

The Dalai Lama group has never abandoned its "Tibet independence" ambition and separatist activities.

In its "Peace proposals" put forward in a US Congressional Human Rights Commission in September 1987, the Dalai Lama still claimed Tibet is an "independent state" and said a "greater Tibet", including Tibetan-inhabited areas of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, should be set up. Also, all non-Tibetans should be excluded from the delineated area.

However, such a "greater Tibet" has never existed in China's history. The Dalai Lama's ambition is essentially to deny China's sovereignty over Tibet.

The author is a researcher with the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau

(China Daily March 30, 2009)

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